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Ebola-related fears result in market anomalies and below-average household incomes

  • Special Report
  • West Africa
  • November 3, 2014
Ebola-related fears result in market anomalies and below-average household incomes

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  • Key Messages
  • Preface

  • Preface

    Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are FEWS NET remote monitoring countries. 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. The analysis presented in this report is based on various field information provided by local partners, such as trader organizations, WFP, and OCHA. FEWS NET also participates in an informal working group to exchange information and discuss analysis related to the potential food security impacts of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

    Key Messages
    • The number of Ebola cases reported or suspected in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea continues to increase and is currently estimated at 13,540 cases. Reports from the three countries indicate that official and unofficial restrictions on population movements due to the disease outbreak have led to market and price anomalies for both staple and cash crops. Household incomes from certain sources are also below average.

    • The main rice harvest is ongoing and is expected to be average to slightly below-average. Rural farming households will meet the majority of their staple food needs through their own production in the short-term (two to six months) and will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.

    • For market-dependent households in areas worst affected by the Ebola outbreak, below-average incomes and market disruptions have caused them to begin relying on unseasonal coping strategies to meet basic food needs and consequently, they are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2). In addition, households with family members infected by Ebola who are not currently receiving humanitarian assistance are likely facing small to moderate food consumption gaps, equivalent to Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    • The infection rate and future infection dispersion of the Ebola outbreak are unclear; as such projected impacts of the disease on markets, livelihoods, and food security outcomes are uncertain. However, if a drastic, exponential increase in the number of Ebola cases resulted in major disruptions to markets and livelihoods compared to current levels, food security outcomes would likely worsen. Under this scenario, households with family members who are ill or have died from Ebola, along with poor market dependent households, would likely face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity by March 2015.

    • A Household Economy Approach (HEA) outcome analysis was conducted by FEWS NET for a rural, Ebola-affected livelihood zone in Bomi Country, Liberia and suggested that under the scenario described above, food security outcomes would be less severe for agricultural households due to a reliance on their own crop production and wild foods. However, acute food insecurity of at Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels would still be likely for very poor and poor households at times during the 2015 consumption year.

    Occasionally, FEWS NET will publish a Special Report that serves to provide an in-depth analysis of food security issues of particular concern that are not covered in FEWS NET’s regular monthly reporting. These reports may focus on a specific factor driving food security outcomes anywhere in the world during a specified period of time. For example, in 2019, FEWS NET produced a Special Report on widespread flooding in East Africa and its associated impacts on regional food security.

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