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Crisis levels of food insecurity due to the residual effects of Ebola on the local economy

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Sierra Leone
  • July 2015
Crisis levels of food insecurity due to the residual effects of Ebola on the local economy

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected outlook through December 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Due to below-average food availability and incomes, household purchasing power is atypically weak. This will contribute to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes throughout the country between now and the end of the lean season in September. Bo, Kambia, Port Loko, Moyamba, Kailahun and Kenema districts will see the highest levels of food insecurity with poor households in these areas facing small to moderate food consumption gaps.

    • Harvests in October will increase food availability for poor households, in addition to providing opportunities for seasonal income through agricultural labor. Consequently, household food security outcomes in most areas will improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) between October and December. However, poor households in certain areas currently facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3), such as Moyamba, Kenema and Kailahun districts, are not expected to fully recover from the residual economic impacts of the Ebola outbreak by then and will remain in Stress (IPC Phase 2).

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES
    National
    • Ebola outbreak
    • Below average incomes from many sources
    • Atypically weak cross-border trade flows due to continued Ebola-related fears
    • Market disruptions including early shop closures, a ban on Sunday sales, and the official closure of weekly markets
    • Cases of Ebola 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 July 15 situation report, there has been a total of 25 new confirmed Ebola cases over the past 21 days within the districts of Kambia, Port Loko, and the Western Area-Urban. To prevent further contamination, the Government is maintaining reduced trading hours, no sales on Sundays, and periodic markets closures in all districts. During the scenario period (July to December 2015), the number of new Ebola cases is expected to decline, which will favor a slow economic recovery and improvements in household income levels.

    Many organizations, such as WFP, MOHS, National Commission for Social Action and West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program, are continuing to provide food to Ebola treatment centers and quarantined communities, as well as food for work, cash for work, and seed protection assistance to vulnerable households in selected districts. These interventions are contributing to enhanced agricultural productivity and improved food access to 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, still remain below average due to reduced market activities and low household purchasing power. Disruptions to markets and livelihoods will likely continue to contribute to below-average purchasing power and limited household food access throughout the outlook period, although economic activities will likely slowly resume as the number of Ebola cases declines.

    As of July 10th, satellite-derived imagery shows moderately to significantly above-average cumulative rainfall totals 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 ongoing agricultural activities, such as land preparations (upland rice), planting activities (rice, cassava, tobacco, pepper, sweet potato, yams and vegetables), weeding (groundnut, maize, and millet) and harvesting (cassava and cashews). Seasonal forecasts from major meteorological agencies are mixed, although the majority for the remainder of the season are indicating an increased probability of either average to above-average rains.

    Despite favorable rainfall conditions to date, key informant reports indicate that, in some cases, ongoing agricultural activities continue to occur at slightly below-normal levels because of restrictions on agricultural group work due to the enforcement of EVD bylaws. According to FEWS NET’s most recent SMS-based trader survey conducted in June 2015, 22 percent of interviewed traders reported that current rice cultivation activities in their local communities were occurring at below-normal levels. Despite most traders reporting seasonally normal levels agricultural activities, 50 percent of respondents declared that some delays have being observed compare to a typical year.

    The results of WFP’s March/April Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) found that 13 percent of the respondent households had a poor food consumption score and another 32 percent had a borderline food consumption score. At a regional level, over 40 percent of respondents in Bo, Kailahun, Kenema, Koinadugu, Kono, Moyamba, and Port Loko had either a poor or borderline food consumption score. In addition, the reduced coping strategies index (rCSI) collected during the assessment reflected an increase in the rCSI values compared to June-July 2010 levels across most areas.

    According to WFP mVAM survey conducted in June, the rCSI amongst this survey’s respondents were stable between May and June 2015, although a longitudinal regression of panel household data found an improving rCSI in general overtime amongst surveyed households. The June mVAM survey also found that food prices remained relatively stable while labor rates and wage-to-rice terms of trade were increasing over the past several months.

    An early exhaustion of food stocks and below-average incomes from most typical incomes sources due to an unfavorable economic environment have contributed to an atypical weak household purchasing power and access to food through market purchase. As a result, many poor households are currently reduce their essential nonfood expenditure and will remain in Stress (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity until September 2015. Moreover, households in areas where disruptions to agricultural production and market activities were most severe earlier in the consumption year, such as in Port Loko, Kailahun, Kenema, Bo, Kambia and Moyamba districts, are reducing the  quantity and quality of food intake and are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September 2015.

    However, with the harvest in October, food availability and access will improve for poor households, causing households to improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity between October and December. However, households in certain areas currently facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3), such as Moyamba, Kenema and Kailahun, are expected to still be recovering from the residual economic impacts of the Ebola outbreak during this time period and will remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity.

    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 July to September 2015

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Most likely estimated food security outcomes for July 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) – June 30 to July 10, 2015

    Figure 4

    Figure 3. Cumulative rainfall estimate (RFE) anomaly (percent of normal) – June 30 to July 10, 2015

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 5

    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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