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Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity persists due to continued economic disruptions

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Sierra Leone
  • May 2015
Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity persists due to continued economic disruptions

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through September 2015
  • Key Messages
    • The results of FEWS NET’s May SMS-based trader surveys indicate that current rice cultivation activities in some local communities are taking place at below-average levels. Similarly, the majority of respondents reported that ongoing agricultural labor opportunities were less than in a normal year. For affected households, below-average labor opportunities are likely resulting in poor household purchasing power and reduced food access.

    • In areas where disruptions to agricultural production, markets, and income-generating activities were most severe during the peak of the Ebola outbreak, such as the districts of Kailahun, Kenema, Kono, Tonkolili, Bombali and Port Loko, poor households are reducing the quantity and quality of their food intake and will likely face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity through September 2015.

    • For other parts of the country, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity will continue through the end of the lean season in September. Households in these areas will still be able to minimally meet their food needs but will be unable to afford essential non-food expenditures without engaging in negative coping strategies.

    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
    • Markets disruptions including shops closing at 6pm, a ban on Sunday sales, and weekly markets officially closed
    • Cases of Ebola will continue to decline compared to previous weeks throughout the outlook period
    • The economy will slowly recover as the number of new Ebola cases declines. This will contribute to an improvement in household incomes although levels will still remain below average.

    Projected Outlook through September 2015

    According to the World Health Organization’s May 27 situation report, there have been a total of 13 new confirmed Ebola cases over the past 21 days within the districts of Kambia, Port Loko, and the Western Area-Urban. During the scenario period (May to September 2015), the number of new Ebola cases will likely  continue to decline, which will favor a slow economic recovery and improvements in household income levels.

    Satellite imagery indicates that cumulative rainfall totals for the month of May has been above average across the country (Figure 3). These rainfall conditions are favorable for ongoing agricultural activities, such as land preparations for upland rice, planting activities for groundnut, maize, millet and sweet potato, and harvesting activities for cassava and cashews.

    However, according to key informant reports, ongoing agricultural activities are, in some cases, occurring at slightly below-normal levels because of below-average levels of group work on farms due to the enforcement of EVD bylaws. This is also in line with the preliminary results of FEWS NET’s most recent SMS-based trader surveys conducted  at the beginning of May which found that 28 percent of interviewed traders reported that current rice cultivation activities in their local communities were taking place at below-average levels. Similarly, 53 percent of respondents reported that current agricultural labor opportunities were less than in a normal year. The highest proportion of traders reporting below-average opportunities were observed in Bombali, Kono, and Western Area Rural.

    Seasonal forecasts from major meteorological agencies (NOAA/CPC, IRI, ECMWF, UK MET, PRESAO) are showing mixed projections for the upcoming rainy season (April to October), with certain forecasts indicating an increased probability of above-average rainfall while others showing an increased probability of below-average rains. However, even if below-average rainfall were to occur, it would not necessarily result in poor crop performance given the large amounts of rainfall that occurs over Sierra Leone in a normal year. With this in mind, planting activities are expected to continue into June, providing labor opportunities for poor households at average to below-average levels despite wages being similar to previous years.

    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. While the economy will likely slowly improve throughout the outlook period as the number of Ebola cases declines, continued disruptions to markets and livelihoods will likely contribute to below-average purchasing power and limited household food access into the coming months.

    Rice imports from international markets continue at relatively normal levels, maintaining food availability on markets. However, some local market disruptions continue including daily market closures at 6pm, no sales on Sundays, the official closure of weekly markets, and limited cross border trade flows even though borders are officially open. According to the results of FEWS NET’s SMS-based trader surveys conducted in early May, 46 percent of surveyed traders reported that the main market where they worked (either daily or weekly) was closed or operating at reduced levels. These reports have not significantly changed from December 2014, when 46 to 53 percent of traders reported that their community weekly or daily markets, respectively, were not functioning normally.

    Prices of imported rice were relatively stable between March and April 2015, as well as compared to last year’s levels. Meanwhile, prices for local rice increased across all markets compared to March 2015 and saw varied price trends compared to last year’s levels. For example, local rice prices in Freetown, Kono, and Moyamba increased by 40 percent, 33 percent, and 33 percent respectively compared to 2014 levels. Meanwhile, in Kambia, Kenema, and Port Loko, local rice prices fell by roughly 15 percent during the same time period.

    In most areas, food stocks depleted one to two months earlier than normal due to below-average crop production causing an early and atypical severe lean season. In addition, household incomes have been below average due to an unfavorable economic environment, which has contributed to reduced household purchasing power and food access for poor households. As a result, many poor households are currently prioritizing their own consumption and reducing their nonfood expenditures. For these households, Stress (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity is expected through at least September 2015. In addition, in areas where disruptions to agricultural production and market activities were most severe earlier in the consumption year, such as in Kailahun, Kenema, Kono, Tonkolili, Bombali and Port Loko districts, poor households are reducing the quantity and quality of their food intake and are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through at least September 2015.

    Figures Figure 1. Most likely estimated food security outcomes for May to June 2015

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Most likely estimated food security outcomes for May to June 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2.   Most likely estimated food security outcomes for July to September 2015

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. Most likely estimated food security outcomes for July to September 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3. Cumulative rainfall estimate (RFE) anomaly (mm) – May 2015

    Figure 3

    Figure 3. Cumulative rainfall estimate (RFE) anomaly (mm) – May 2015

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 4. Status of rice cultivation activities, as reported by traders at the beginning of May 2015

    Figure 4

    Figure 4. Status of rice cultivation activities, as reported by traders at the beginning of May 2015

    Source: FEWS NET SMS-based surveys

    Figure 5. Current agricultural labor opportunities compared to normal, as reported by traders at the beginning of May 2015

    Figure 5

    Figure 5. Current agricultural labor opportunities compared to normal, as reported by traders at the beginning of May 2015

    Source: FEWS NET SMS-based surveys

    Table 1. Status of daily and weekly markets, as reported by traders at the beginning of May 2015

    Figure 6

    Table 1. Status of daily and weekly markets, as reported by traders at the beginning of May 2015

    Source: FEWS NET SMS-based surveys

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 7

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 7

    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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