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Minimal food insecurity through June

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Sierra Leone
  • January 2013
Minimal food insecurity through June

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through March 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Staple food prices, primarily rice, are at normal levels due to average supply in local and imported rice and good household stocks. Poor households will continue to access to basic food needs through own stocks  and market purchase.

    • A brief, country-wide gasoline shortage in early January has been corrected.  Gas supply and demand has returned to normal levels and is not likely to impact food over the coming months. 

    • The cholera outbreak is under control due to diverse programs and initiatives, and given environmental conditions during the ongoing dry season. The cholera epidemic has not significantly impacted food security.

    • Poor households will earn normal income from non-cropping activities (ex. petty trade, forestry product sales, casual labor) through June. Good harvests and normal income levels will result in Minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) through at least May 2013. 





    The 2012/13 major crop harvests have been above-average, leading to good household stocks in rural areas.


    The country's worst cholera outbreak in 15 years that began in 2012, is under control. As of early October, 20,736 cases and 280 deaths have been reported. No new cases were reported in January 2013.

    A majority of households in rural areas will continue to rely on their own stocks, leading to less purchase from the markets and stable prices for basic commodities.


    The WHO will continue to strengthen the coordination and support the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and other health providers to implement activities related to  a cholera preparedness and response operation plan, including communication for behavior changing. No major upswing in caseloads is expected.

    Projected Outlook through March 2013

    Beginning in October 2012, the worst cholera epidemic in Sierra Leone in at least 15 years is now largely  under control.  The epidemic affected 12 of 13 districts (mostly  Western Area, Port Loko, and Kambia), infecting 20,736 individuals as of October 16 and caused 280 deaths. However, new infections were not reported for January.  Reduced infections and deaths are largely attributable to containment and management efforts resulting from a multi-sectoral approach adopted by the Government and its partners, and to seasonal decreases in  precipitation. Overall, since October, food security  has not been significantly affected by cholera.

    Low land cassava planting that began in November continues in January and is nearing the final stages. The harvest is expected in June, coinciding with the beginning of the lean season.  Ongoing yam and fresh maize harvests are improving locally food availability. The harvest of upland rice is almost completed at a national level. As of January, household food stocks remain at average and favorable level thanks to the consecutive recent good harvest. Both newly harvested rice and imported varieties are well-supplied on local markets; however, the availability of local rice at the household level is reducing demand for imported rice, leading to average prices drops of around 10 percent between September and November. The price of local milled rice (parboil) that increased by 5 percent on average between September and October is reported to be stable in January, given that supply on the market has been replenished by recent harvests. Poor households who relied on food loans during the June-August lean season to meet food needs will repay traders with their newly harvested rice. However, due to a relatively less difficult 2012 lean season than normal and the current harvest levels, these payments will have less of an impact on household food stocks compared to a normal year.

    In early January, a national-level gasoline shortage created price spikes in fuel, as the typical prices of gasoline of 4,500LE/liter in Freetown multiplied by 2.5 by some traders, impacting transportation cost that doubled, subsequently increasing palm oil prices in Freetown by 60 percent compared to December levels. Prices of other commodities imported from inland areas also increased but did not seriously impact urban food security due to minimal duration of shortages. As of mid-January prices have returned to normal levels but palm oil in Freetown remains elevated at 16000LE/liter compared to 10000LE in December. It is likely that price of farm products like vegetables will fall to normal levels but less so for palm oil, for demand is strong both locally, and in neighboring Guinea. Even if prices decrease, it is unlikely that they will drop to December levels, resulting in above average incomes to traders but average incomes to farmers involved in the supply chain.

    The provisional food balance sheet indicates an excess of about 45,000 MT of local rice in the country. Despite this excess, Sierra Leone will import as usual rice from Pakistan, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and the United States. Field information suggests that a significant portion of paddy rice flows to Guinea will be processed and sold there despite the restriction of exports towards that country. (January 2013)

    The harvests of other major crops are above-average by 34-40 percent this season, which will also contribute to normal income levels from crop sales, and a reduced dependency on market purchases for staple foods before lean season starting in June/July. Household food stocks normally last approximately five to six months and this year, stocks are expected to last possibly one month longer. (October 2012)

    In addition to income from staple food sales, many poor households are earning normal income levels from other income-generating activities, such as petty-trade, forest and farm product sales (vegetables and cash crops, such as tobacco and palm oil), local labor, and mining activities. These livelihood strategies will remain in place at normal levels throughout the 2012/13 consumption year. Due to the favorable harvest, continuation of normal income levels and livelihood strategies, minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) is likely through the next lean season in June. (November 2012)

    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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