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Minimal food insecurity continues through September

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Sierra Leone
  • May 2013
Minimal food insecurity continues through September

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through October 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Average to above average food stocks at households levels continue to allow good access to basic food needs and will likely delay the start of the lean season until July instead of June, which typically marks the onset of the lean season. 

    • Poor, market-dependent households will continue to engage in normal seasonal livelihood strategies and will be able to access their minimum food needs through September.




    No significant anomalies are currently observed or projected during the outlook period.

    Projected Outlook through October 2013

    Land preparation is ongoing across the country and planting is starting for upland rice and cassava. Sowing of millet, sorghum, maize, tobacco and sweet potato that began in April is near completion. The cumulative country-wide rainfall derived from satellites since April ranges from average to 10-30 percent below normal. However, soil moisture is relatively good enough to support crops that have been planted early.

    Medium-term rainfall forecasts are conflicting for Sierra Leone (ECMWF, IRI); therefore average rainfall volumes and distribution are assumed. It is important to note, however, that annual rainfall in Sierra Leone, even if below average, is usually more than sufficient to support crop growth.

    Harvests of lowland cassava planted in November-December are expected in June-July and are likely to be average in quality and quantity, allowing access to basic food by poor households through own production or purchase as cassava is the main staple food during the June-July lean season.  Households will also consume their own millet, sorghum and fresh maize when prices for the preferred staple, local rice, are highest in July-August.

    Household food stocks are seasonably lower but remain average to above average due to consecutive good harvests, resulting in lower than normal demand  for this time of year, which is also stabilizing prices at below average levels.    Poor households whose rice stocks are depleted have access to the imported varieties through well-supplied markets and are accessing their food needs through purchase, made possible by normal seasonal income levels. This access will likely remain good during the peak of the lean season in July-August even as household rice stocks are depleted. Some market dependent poor households may rely on lowland cassava harvests that take place in June-July, in addition to the consumption of early green harvests, of maize, sorghum and millet as well as local sweet potato.

    The palm oil harvest and marketing season is complete in many parts of the country, but will continue through June in the southern and eastern districts of Bo, Gandorhun, Kenema, and Kailahun. Palm oil sales are an important income source for poor households in these areas.  Like in April, palm oil prices are reportedly 20-30 higher than last year in the northern areas close to Guinea due to increasing demand and current seasonally low supply.  High demand and price levels for palm oil are providing above average incomes to households who are marketing this product.  Above average 2012/13 harvests, household stocks, and incomes will continue to allow access to minimum food needs for the majority of poor rural households through October. The lean season, during which time households will substitute tubers for rice, is likely to start in July, one month later than normal and stocks will be reinforced by the harvest of maize, millet and sorghum as well as sweet potato in month. Stable prices of rice, normal labor opportunities, and average incomes from the sales of forest and farm products, petty-trade, local labor, and mining activities will allow market purchase of rice throughout the lean season. Typical livelihood strategies are likely to remain in place until October, when the harvests begin. Food insecurity will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through September. 

    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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