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Atypically prolonged lean season contributes to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Liberia
  • August 2015
Atypically prolonged lean season contributes to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through December 2015
  • Key Messages
    • The majority of the poor households throughout the country will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity between now and the end of the lean season in September due to an atypically prolonged lean season and weak household purchasing power.

    • Given the regularity of rice imports and prospects of average to above-average 2015 harvests, food availability and income-generating opportunities through agricultural labor will likely improve, leading to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food security outcomes during the October to December harvest period.

    ZONECURRENT ANOMALIESPROJECTED ANOMALIES
    National
    • Below-average incomes from many typical sources, including agricultural labor, hunting and trapping, export of palm oil to neighboring countries, and casual labor work on rubber plantations.
    • Atypical decline in cross-border trade flows due to residual fears related to the Ebola epidemic.
    • Household incomes will slowly improve but will continue to be below average, limiting purchasing power and food access for many poor households.

    Projected Outlook through December 2015

    According to the World Health Organization as of August 19, 2015, there were no new cases of EVD in Liberia. However, all of the precautionary measures (ex. temperature checks, washing hands, etc.) put in place late last year to stop the spread of EVD are still been adhered to within the country.

    Humanitarian interventions by various actors (government, international organizations, NGOs, religious groups/organizations) including cash transfers and food assistance to direct and indirect victims of EVD, are improving food access for beneficiary households across the country.

    Seasonal forecasts from major meteorological agencies (NOAA, ECMWF, IRI, and UK MET) are showing mixed trends regarding cumulative rainfall totals for the remainder of the season. However, satellite-derived imagery shows that cumulative rainfall totals in August were average to above average across much of the country with some slight deficits in the south-east (Figure 3). These deficits have had no major impacts on crop production and the general rainfall conditions are favorable for good crop production prospects this year.

    According to FEWS NET’s most recent SMS-based trader survey conducted at the end of July 2015, 79 percent of interviewed traders reported that current rice cultivation activities in their local communities were occurring at normal levels. These ongoing activities are providing wage labor opportunities for poor households although according 37 percent of respondents, current agricultural wage opportunities are less than in a typical year.

    Weekly and daily markets are currently opened although more than 85 percent of respondents to FEWS NET’s most recent SMS-based survey reported that markets are not functioning well. According to key informant reports,   atypically weak household purchasing power has resulted in reduced demand at local markets compare to the average this year. Furthermore, cross-border flows with neighboring countries remain in general below average because of Ebola-related fears (Figure 4). WFP’s June 2015 mVAM report indicates that food prices have remained relatively stable compared to past months.

    Key informant reports indicate that other typical livelihood activities, such as cassava harvests, charcoal sales, petty trade and handicrafts, are providing households with seasonal incomes. However, incomes from hunting and trapping, export of palm oil to neighboring countries, and casual labor work on rubber plantations in Cote d’Ivoire still remain at below-average levels due to residual market disruptions, cross-border movement restrictions, and low household purchasing power. While the economic situation within Liberia will likely to improve as Ebola-related fears wane, total household incomes are still expected to remain below average through the end of the lean period (September 2015), limiting food access through market purchase for poor households.

    Due to an atypically prolonged lean season resulting from the effects of EDV on the local economy and household purchasing power, most poor households throughout the country are currently reducing their essential non-food expenditures and will remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity through September 2015. However, with the prospects of good harvests in October along with normalization on some livelihoods activities, such as petty trade, handicrafts, and crop sales, the majority of households will be able to meet their minimum food and non-food needs later in the year. Therefore, between October and December 2015, more than 80 percent of households in all counties will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Most likely estimated food security outcomes for August to September 2015

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Most likely estimated food security outcomes for August to September 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2.   Most likely estimated food security outcomes for October to December 2015

    Figure 3

    Figure 2. Most likely estimated food security outcomes for October to December 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3. Cumulative rainfall estimate (RFE) anomaly (mm) – August 1-10, 2015 compared to 2010 -2014 average

    Figure 4

    Figure 3. Cumulative rainfall estimate (RFE) anomaly (mm) – August 1-10, 2015 compared to 2010 -2014 average

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 4. Status of cross-border trade at key crossing points, based on key informant information

    Figure 5

    Figure 4. Status of cross-border trade at key crossing points, based on key informant information

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1

    Source:

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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