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Crisis food insecurity persists despite the lifting of the official ban on weekly markets

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Sierra Leone
  • August 2015
Crisis food insecurity persists despite the lifting of the official ban on weekly markets

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through December 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes are expected to persist through September 2015 due to a prolonged lean season caused by below-average food availability and atypically weak household purchasing power. The highest levels of food insecurity will be observed in Bo, Kambia, Port Loko, Moyamba, Kailahun, and Kenema districts where poor households are currently experiencing food consumption gaps.

    • In early August, the government lifted its ban on weekly markets. Improving market functioning and the upcoming harvest in October will help food and income sources normalize, contributing to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in most areas. However, poor households in Moyamba, Kenema and Kailahun districts are projected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to a slower recovery from this year’s Ebola-related shocks.

    ZONECURRENT ANOMALIESPROJECTED ANOMALIES
    National
    • Ebola outbreak
    • Below average incomes from many sources
    • Atypically weak cross-border trade flows due to continued Ebola-related fears
    • Slight market disruptions due a continued ban on Sunday sales
    • The number of Ebola cases will continue to decline compared to previous weeks throughout the outlook period
    • The economy will slowly recover, contributing to an improvement in household incomes and market activities although levels will still remain below average

     


    Projected Outlook through December 2015

    According to the World Health Organization’s August 19 situation report, there have been three confirmed Ebola cases over the past 21 days within the districts of Tonkolili and the Western Area-Urban. However, given 10 days without any new cases during the first week of August, the Government lifted its ban on periodic markets, although Sunday sales remain restricted. This will favor a slow economic recovery and improvements in household income levels throughout the scenario period (August to December 2015).

    Humanitarian assistance from various organizations (WFP, MOHS, National Commission for Social Action and West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program) in terms of food to Ebola treatment centers, food for work, cash for work, and seed protection assistance to vulnerable households are contributing to enhanced agricultural productivity and improving food access for beneficiaries.

    Typical livelihood activities, such as agricultural labor, charcoal sales, hunting and trapping, petty trade, handicrafts, export of palm oil to neighboring countries, and casual labor work on rubber plantations, remain below average due to reduced market activities caused by Ebola-related fears and reduced household purchasing power. Weekly and daily markets are currently opened but more than 72 percent of respondents to FEWS NET’s most recent SMS-based survey reported that they are not functioning well. These issues are expected to continue and contribute to limited household food access, although economic activities will slowly improve during the outlook period.

    Seasonal forecasts from major meteorological agencies are showing mixed trends, although the majority (NOAA, ECMWF, UK MET) are indicating an increased probability of average to above-average rains for the remainder of the season.  As of August 10th, satellite-derived imagery shows moderately to significantly above-average cumulative rainfall across much of the country with some slight deficits in western zones (Figure 3) with no major impacts on seasonal progress. These rainfall conditions are favorable for good crop production prospects this year.

    Despite the lifting of restrictions on agricultural group work, key informant reports indicate that ongoing agricultural activities continue at slightly below-normal levels due to EVD fears. This is in line with the results of FEWS NET’s most recent SMS-based trader survey conducted during the last week of July 2015 which found that 51 percent of interviewed traders reported reduced agricultural wage opportunities in their local communities. However, despite reduced agricultural labor work, only 26 percent of interviewed traders reported that current rice cultivation activities in their local communities were occurring at below-normal levels.

    Even with ongoing humanitarian assistance, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity will be maintained throughout the remainder of the lean season (August-September) with the worst outcomes in Port Loko, Kailahun, Kenema, Bo, Kambia and Moyamba districts where poor households are experiencing some small to moderate food consumption deficits due to the effects of atypically poor purchasing power. However, with the lifting of trade restrictions which will allow certain income generating activities to slowly normalize and with the consumption of new harvests beginning in September, the Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes will improve between October and December to Minimal (IPC Phase 1). However, households in worst-affected areas, such as Moyamba, Kenema and Kailahun, will find it difficult to afford some essential non-food expenditures due to the residual effects of the Ebola outbreak on local livelihoods and will thus remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    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 (percent of normal) – August 1 to 10, 2015/Average 2010 - 2014

    Figure 4

    Figure 3. Cumulative rainfall estimate (RFE) anomaly (percent of normal) – August 1 to 10, 2015/Average 2010 - 2014

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 4. Status of cross-border trade at key points, according to key informant reports

    Figure 5

    Figure 4. Status of cross-border trade at key points, according to key informant reports

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 6

    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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