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Minimal food insecurity will likely continue through next June

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Liberia
  • March 2013
Minimal food insecurity will likely continue through next June

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Last season's good harvests, coupled with normal livelihood strategies, are enabling households to meet essential food and non-food needs. Households are expected to be food secure (IPC Phase 1) through at least June 2013.

    • Despite low levels of voluntary repatriation, the majority of Ivorian refugees living within Liberia will likely stay through the next agricultural season due to uncertainties about their security and access to food, housing and income in their home country. These refugees will continue to improve their living conditions in Liberia by engaging in income generating activities and crop production. Those living within refugee camps will also partially rely on food assistance. 

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    National

    • Approximately 63,000 Ivorian refugees are currently living within Liberia. Of this refugee population, about 37,000 people are living within refugee camps and are partially dependent on food assistance.
    • The majority of these refugees will likely remain in Liberia to take advantage of the next cropping season which begins in April. Refugees in camps will continue to remain partially dependent on food assistance.

    Projected Outlook through June 2013

    Cassava planting activities, as well as land preparation activities, are ongoing. The land preparations are for the next rice and vegetable seasons, which will begin with the planting of crops in April/May.  The above average 2012/13 harvest of rice (up 2.6 percent compared to last year and 2.9 percent compared to the four-year average) and other major crops have contributed to normal food stock and crop income levels. In the southeast, food stocks from this season's harvests are expected to deplete in April/May, similar to a normal year. After food stocks are depleted, rural households will purchase imported rice on the market and will increase their consumption of cassava, a crop that is harvested year-round.  

    While cheaper, local varieties of rice can be found at most rural markets, markets are still generally dominated by imported rice. Exceptions include the major rice producing areas of Lofa and parts of Bong countries, where markets are currently dominated by locally-milled rice. As most households are currently consuming their own production, market demand has been reduced causing imported rice prices to decline in January compare to December 2012 levels. These price decreases have ranged from 3 percent in Bo-Waterside to 16 percent in Tubmanburg. Only Voinjama and Zwedru experienced monthly price increases, ranging around five to six percent. Compared to last year's levels, imported rice prices in January are currently five to 23 percent lower, except for Pleebo where there was an eight percent annual increase. Given that the government of Liberia recently extended an executive order suspending import tariffs on rice, imported rice prices are expected to remain at normal and stable levels during the rest of this consumption year. In addition, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has reported that current and pending commercial stocks of imported rice will be sufficient to meet local needs through next July. Gasoline prices have declined four percent compared to December 2012 levels but remain six to 14 percent above levels from last year. Despite this moderate increase, gasoline prices have so far not impacted prices for staple foods.

    Household incomes are currently average to above average. For example, a significant income-generating activity at this time of the year is the harvesting of palm oil, and high local and foreign demand (particularly from Guinea) is keeping prices for this commodity about 21 to 73 percent higher than last year's levels. This is providing good incomes for palm oil producing households. Prices for charcoal are also up about 10 to 16 percent compared to last year. Wages for dry season activities, including clearing, brushing, rubber tapping, etc., are reported to be similar to last year.

    According to the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRC), the Ivorian refugee population was estimated at 62,805 at the beginning of March. This compared to a refugee population of 66,871 at the end of January. Most of these refugees are living in either eastern or southeastern Liberia (Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Maryland, and River Gee) or in Montserrado near Monrovia. Voluntary repatriation of these refugees back to Cote d'Ivoire continues but at low levels as the majority of the remaining refugees are concerned about their security and access to food, housing and income in their home country. As a result, most refugees will likely remain in Liberia and are improving their living conditions through income-generating activities such as crop production, agricultural labor, petty trade, the selling of forestry products, mining, and transportation services. The approximately 37,000 refugees living in camps will also remain partially dependant on food assistance. Market functioning and agricultural production in areas hosting refugees are relatively normal, and pressure on host communities is likely to be less in 2012/13 than in 2011/12.

    At this time during the dry season, Liberian households are selling charcoal, palm nuts/oil, bush meat, and labor to generate cash income. Last season's good harvests, coupled with normal livelihood strategies, will enable households to meet essential food and non-food needs. Households are expected to be food secure (IPC Phase 1) through at least June 2013.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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