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Ebola outbreak in West Africa

Ebola outbreak in West Africa

The current Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in West Africa is the world’s largest Ebola outbreak recorded to date. The epidemic has significantly impacted food security, economies and livelihoods in affected and at-risk countries in West Africa. In December 2014, an estimated half a million people were severely food insecure due to the impact of Ebola in the three worst hit western African countries: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

Ebola-affected families are facing below-average harvests and incomes as a result of quarantines and social stigma. Access to food is difficult and below-average incomes and market disruptions have reduced their purchasing power.

Unless access to food is drastically improved and measures to safeguard crop and livestock production are put in place, over 1 million people could face food insecurity due to the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone by March 2015. In 2015, support is needed to boost agricultural production in Ebola-affected and at-risk areas and improve the nutritional status of the most vulnerable populations.

Half a million people are already facing food insecurity. The situation could deteriorate in rural areas as the lean season approaches and people’s food stocks have dwindled. Immediate action must also be taken to avoid a food security crisis. FAO’s strategy focuses on supporting life-saving activities while also safeguarding food security, nutrition and livelihoods.

FAO’s strategy is based on four pillars:

  1. Save lives by stopping the spread of the disease as part of a UN coordinated response through social mobilization, training and awareness raising activities via FAO networks of extension services and animal health workers.
  2. Boost incomes and agricultural production to safeguard livelihoods through rapid impact assessments and support to crop and livestock production, cash transfers, post-harvest activities and trade/marketing.
  3. Build resilience of communities to disease threats by improving early warning systems and emergency response.
  4. Strengthen coordination to improve response by reinforcing food security/nutrition clusters and surge mechanisms.

FAO is appealing for a total of USD 42.5 million for its Regional Response Programme (October 2014 – September 2015) to assist nearly 1 145 000 people most affected by the outbreak.

At-risk countries will also benefit through FAO’s integrated, long-term, regional approach to supporting food security and nutrition while reducing EVD risks at the interface between humans, animals and ecosystems.

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