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Minimal food insecurity through September, even in refugee areas

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Liberia
  • May 2013
Minimal food insecurity through September, even in refugee areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Country-wide, poor households are able to meet essential food and non-food needs through normal livelihood strategies. From April to September 2013, households are expected to face IPC Phase 1: Minimal food insecurity. 

    • Though the lean season is underway in the south east, poor households are able to meet their basic food needs, either through residual stocks from 2012 harvests or through market purchases. Normal income levels and declining prices for imported rice are facilitating market food access. 

    • The majority of Ivorian refugees are unlikely to return home before the end of the year due to persistent civil insecurity and concerns about rebuilding their livelihoods. While most are active in income-generating activities and/or crop production, those living within camps will remain partially dependant on food assistance. 

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    Southeast

    • The number of Ivorian refugees has remained relatively stable (61,000-67,000) since April 2012 and highly concentrated in the southeast, including an estimated 37,000 refugees living in camps and partially relying on food assistance.
    • The majority of refugees are expected to remain in Liberia as concerns about civil insecurity and livelihood recovery issues persist. Refugees in camps will continue to rely partially on food assistance.

    Projected Outlook through June 2013

    In general, land preparation activities are near completion, and moderate rainfall levels in April in the south has allowed for a timely start of rice and vegetable planting. In addition, general planting activities began in May in the southeast as rainfall levels improved across the country (Figure 2). The seasonal forecasts (NOAA, IRI, ECMWF) indicate normal rainfall conditions for most of the season with a slight increased probability of below-average rainfall between July and October. An average harvest is anticipated for next August/September.

    As of May, household food stocks in most areas of the country are at low but still above-average levels due to a good 2012/13 harvest that took place in October-December.  However in the southeastern counties where the lean season is ongoing, poor household stocks are generally completely depleted, normal for this time of the year.

    Decreasing rice prices on the international market are driving continuous reductions in the cost of imported parboiled varieties in April (4-10 percent below March levels and 15-22 percent below 2012 levels), allowing reasonably good household access.  In addition, cassava, harvested year-round or purchased in the market, is available for consumption, but is less preferred. As a substitute for rice during the lean season, cassava prices are about 15 percent higher than last year in Pleebo and Voinjama (where supply is low due to lean season stocks and production deficits, respectively) and will likely follow normal seasonal trends, increasing through the peak of the lean season (June/July in the southeast and August in the rest of the country) due to stronger consumer demand.  Cowpea planted in April will be harvested in July, improving food stocks during lean season or providing income to purchase imported rice. 

    Palm oil harvesting is an important income-generating activity at this time of the year and will continue through next June in the center, north, and eastern areas of the country. Prices are, on average, about 8 percent below March levels due to improving supplies on the market but the activity is still  providing above-average incomes as high local and foreign demand (particularly from Guinea) is keeping prices about 5-15 percent higher than 2012 levels.  Normal incomes from casual labor and charcoal sales (5-10 percent above last year) are enabling households to purchase their most preferred food, rice. In general, labor to rice terms of trade improved in April due to diminishing prices of imported rice and stable wages rates. Other usual livelihood activities for this period include hunting, petty trade and labor in the rubber production and supply chain.

    According to the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) and UNHCR, the Ivorian refugee population was estimated at 60,385 in early May. As mentioned in previous FEWS NET reports, the refugee population is stable as persistent civil insecurity in western Cote d'Ivoire, and uncertainties regarding land and livelihood recovery, discourage voluntary repatriation. The majorities of the remaining refugees, mainly living among local communities, are taking advantage of the current cropping season to farm and improve their access to food and gather incomes. Land access by refuges living in camps remains a critical issue compared to those living in communities, as reported by the WFP Joint Assessment mission at the border of Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia. However, the proximity of the camp to major towns and markets allows them to improve their living conditions through various income generating activities, although an estimated 37,000 refugees living in camps will likely remain partially dependant on food assistance from WFP. Market functioning in areas hosting refugees remain relatively normal with refugees participating in market activities as both buyers and sellers.

    Normal market supply of imported rice coupled with normal cash income levels for poor households, and good 2012 harvests, will enable poor households to meet essential food and non-food needs through the coming months. As a result, poor households throughout the country are expected to face Minimal food insecurity (IPC phase 1) through September.  

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Rainfall estimate anomaly, May 1 - 10, 2013 (mm)

    Figure 2

    Rainfall estimate anomaly, May 1 - 10, 2013 (mm)

    Source: USGS/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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