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A livelihood zone is a ‘geographical area where people generally have the same options for obtaining food and income and engaging in trade to meet their life and livelihood needs’. The process of livelihood zoning involves the boundary delimitation of a region or country into different zones which share common livelihood characteristics. The map and description which identify relevant variables by geographical location are used as a starting point for early waring analysis. The livelihood zoning is the first step of the Household Economy Analysis (HEA) framework which is the methodology that FEWS NET uses as the foundation for its livelihoods activities. To inform its integrated food security analysis, FEWS NET continuously expands and updates its livelihoods knowledge base.
In 2010, FEWS NET and partners from the Government Ministries, CILSS and WFP undertook the update of the first mapping of food economy zones completed in Sierra Leone in 2001 by WFP. The 2010 update identified ten livelihood zones. Six years have passed since then and rural livelihoods in Sierra Leone may have changed due to several factors such as the changes on international market commodity prices (iron ore, cocoa and coffee) and the impacts of Ebola on crop production, markets functioning, food prices and casual labor work.
In October 2016, FEWS NET and partners updated the 2010 livelihood zoning in order to have a better understanding of current rural livelihoods.
Livelihood Zone Description accompanies a zone map, briefly describing the main characteristics of the livelihood patterns in that zone. The maps and descriptions, which identify relevant variables by geography, are useful in informing the development of monitoring systems.