Deterioration of livelihoods in Ebola-affected countries

Deterioration of livelihoods in Ebola-affected countries


The preliminary results of recent impact assessments on food security of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – the three countries most affected by the Ebola virus disease outbreak – were recently made available. The key finding is that Ebola is the main shock that has affected the agricultural sector in 2014 in these three countries.

The closure of borders due to the Ebola outbreak has also negatively impacted the income of rural and urban population in affected countries as well as the bordering areas of the neighbouring countries.

The first outcomes of these assessments, done by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) together with governments and other partners, revealed:

  • disruption of the functioning of markets
  • a decrease of agricultural production and demand
  • a deterioration of livelihoods
  • a decline in the purchasing power of households
  • a risk of degradation of the nutrition situation due to access difficulties to food in sufficient quantity and quality and to the basic social services

“Farmers are losing income, and that is reducing their access to food”, said Vincent Martin, FAO’s Response Coordinator for Ebola, “In Sierra Leone for example, 70 percent of the people we interviewed said eating only one meal per day; instead of two to three meals as was the norm before the Ebola outbreak.” 

The final results, to be released early December, will provide an analysis on the agricultural production, prices, markets, trades and stocks situation. “This information will help us to adapt our strategy to help farmers most in need. We need to help them rebuild their livelihoods, and to resume agricultural production as soon as possible”, concluded Mr Martin.

These preliminary results were jointly presented by the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), FAO, WFP and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) during a special session dedicated to the impact of the Ebola virus disease on food and nutrition security in West Africa, at the meeting of the Food Crises Prevention and Management Network (PREGEC) in Dakar, Senegal, in November 2014.

Representatives from all countries in West Africa and the Sahel attended the meeting, as well as from regional organizations; non-governmental organizations such as Action Against Hunger, Oxfam and Save the Children; resource partners, such as the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), the European Union and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); and farmers and herders organizations.

The preliminary results of the 2014-2015 cropping season in West Africa and the Sahel were also presented.