Food Security Outlook Update

Residual impacts of Ebola maintain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity in some areas

December 2015
2015-Q4-1-2-SL-en

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • The World Health Organization declared Sierra Leone free of Ebola on November 7th. This situation is providing favorable conditions for a slow economic recovery and improving household incomes compared to last year’s levels. 

  • Production estimates from the joint CILSS/FEWS NET/FAO/WFP/Government pre-harvest assessment conducted in September 2015 indicate that 2015/2016 rice and cassava production increased by 28 percent and 23 percent, respectively, compared to the five-year average. Consequently, food supply levels will likely be sufficient to meet local consumption needs, maintain stable prices, and ensure adequate food access for households in most areas.

  • Food security has improved compared to previous months due to ongoing harvests and income-generating opportunities from off-season cropping (ex. labor work and crop sales). These factors, along with the gradual recovery of certain seasonal livelihood activities, will enable most households to meet their essential food and non-food needs. Consequently, most households are expected to remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through at least March 2016.

  • However, more than 20 percent of households in Kenema, Kailahun, Kambia, Pujenhun, Port Loko, Tonkolili, and Kono will continue to face reduced purchasing power due to a slower recovery from Ebola-related shocks (ex. market disruptions and reduced incomes). This is preventing affected households from being able to meet their essential non-food expenditures and as a result, they will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through March 2016. In these areas, poor households who lost a family member to Ebola will likely face the worst outcomes. 

Projected Outlook through March 2016

According to FEWS NET’s SMS-based trader survey conducted in early November 2015, more than 70 percent of interviewed traders reported that rice harvesting activities were ongoing in their local communities. These harvests of rice, sweet potatoes, cassava, maize, groundnuts, legumes, and vegetables in major production areas are helping to improve household food availability, diversify diets, and maintain seasonally incomes from crop sales and labor work.

The joint CILSS/FAO/FEWS NET/WFP/Government pre-harvest assessment conducted in October estimated that 2015/16 rice production would be 1,519,227 metric tons, representing a 10 percent increase compared to last year’s levels and a 35 percent increase compared to the five-year average. For cassava, production is about 4,455,521 metric tons, which is 10 percent more than last year’s levels and 25 percent above the 5-year average. According to the joint assessment, the same trends are also likely for sweet potato and groundnut production. These achievements can be explained by favorable rainfall conditions across the country and producer support by the Government and its partners in terms of agricultural inputs. Given current production levels, households stocks are expected, on average, to cover five to six months, similar to a typical year.

Many other income-generating activities, such as petty trade and charcoal production/sales, are occurring at relatively normal levels and are providing households with average incomes to maintain their food access. However, hunting and bush meat sales are still restricted due to official laws, resulting in below-average incomes for households engaged in these activities.

According to the joint CILSS/FEWS NET/WFP/FAO crop assessment mission, supplies of food products on local markets are generally sufficient to meet market demand. However, a ban on Sunday sales still limits trading activities especially at weekly markets, such as Bamoi international market whose official market day is Sunday. Cross-border flows also remain below average due to the residual Ebola-related fears as many foreign traders from Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Senegal are absent on reference markets unlike in normal years. This is causing below average income for households engage in those activities. According to WFP mVAM prices collected in October, food prices have generally remained stable compared to the past months, which is helping to facilitate household food access.

Due to a slower recovery from Ebola-related shocks (market disruptions and below-average incomes) and the resulting reduced household purchasing power, the majority of households in Kenema, Kailahun, Kambia, Pujenhun, Port Loko, Tonkolili, and Kono are currently unable to meet essential non-food needs and will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through at least March 2016. In these areas, poor households who lost a family member to Ebola will likely face some of the worst food security outcomes. Elsewhere, food security outcomes have improved compared to previous months as a result of increased food availability with the new harvests, relatively stable food prices, and normal incomes. More than 80 percent of households in such areas are able to satisfy their food and non-food expenditures and thus these areas will be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through at least March 2016.

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
Learn more About Us.

Link to United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Link to the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) FEWS NET Data PortalLink to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Link to National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Earth ObservatoryLink to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service, Climage Prediction CenterLink to the Climate Hazards Center - UC Santa BarbaraLink to KimetricaLink to Chemonics