Cadre Harmonisé for identification of areas and populations in food insecurity in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone

Cadre Harmonisé for identification of areas and populations in food insecurity in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone
Mar 2015

Overview

In March 2014, the first Ebola virus disease (EVD) case was confirmed in Guinea and quickly spread to the neighbouring countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. In September, the EVD outbreak was declared a global emergency by the UN assembly and national governments in the region, resulting in the implementation of measures to contain the outbreak including border and market closures, road blocks and quarantines. The measures and behaviours related to the outbreak directly disrupted many economic activities leading to major economic losses in almost all sectors.

The peak of the Ebola outbreak coincided with the 2014 lean season period (June to August) and affected the agricultural growing season through labour shortages caused by movement restrictions in production zones during the typical planting and crop maintenance periods. This contributed to crop production losses in localized areas. However, with increased awareness on Ebola over time, agricultural activities (especially harvest activities) resumed in most areas and allowed households to replenish some of their food stocks for the coming 2015 lean season.

While the Ebola incidence rates have fallen in all countries, transmission remains widespread in Western Guinea and Western Sierra Leone. The lifting of quarantines in Liberia and Sierra Leone and recent reopening of main crossing points on borders between the three countries and the neighbouring countries such as Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire are expected to trigger recovery for markets, trade and the overall economy of these countries and the region. On the other hand, the lean season that will typically start in May/June is expected to be harder than usual due to the economic losses suffered by households in all areas over the past months, and lower food stocks from the recent harvest for households in areas most affected by the disease.

The main outcomes of the food security situation are as follows:

Food Consumption

Currently, household food consumption is Under Stress (Phase 2) in many communities in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Poor and very poor households in Liberia (Nimba, Lofa, Bong, Margibi and Montserrado counties), and Sierra Leone (Kailahun, Kenema, Kono, Tonkolili, Bombali and Port Loko districts) classified in Crisis (Phase 3) in the projected situation will face food access difficulties due to insufficient purchasing power as the lean season approaches. The impact of EVD on food consumption is expected to be the highest for households directly affected by the disease and its related containment measures as well as food households with below-average food stocks and those whose livelihoods were already fragile, increasing their vulnerability to shocks.

Livelihoods

The Ebola outbreak has had a negative impact on household livelihoods throughout the region. For example, some agricultural households abandoned their fields or were unable to participate in typical group work activities due to movement restrictions, resulting in reduced crop yields and below-average production in zones worst affected by Ebola. In addition, incomes from petty trade and crop sales (cash and staple) have been atypically low due to the closure of most markets and poor market functioning. Most bush meat vendors are also still out of business due to sale bans as part of Ebola prevention measures. In addition, unemployment rates from other sectors rose due to the general economic slowdown and closure of many industries. Finally, recent market assessments conducted by WFP/FAO/FEWS NET/Governments indicate that credit availability has been significantly restricted since the Ebola outbreak, hindering recovery for most households, such as farmers unable to hire labor for the upcoming agricultural activities and petty traders who lost their capital.

Nutritional status

Surveillance and treatment of malnutrition have been almost entirely put on hold and will be difficult to resume as available basic health services are still limited but also because communities have lost confidence in them. The lack of screening and treatment may contribute to a mid or long term increase in Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates. Moreover, indicators for stunting and inadequate micro-nutrients intake are unacceptably high according to the WHO standards.

Mortality

As of February 26, 2015, it has been reported that a total of 23,694 people have been infected with Ebola and a total of 9,589 people have died. However food security analysis only factors in mortality resulting from food security issues, and not unrelated health issues, therefore the classification was not based on EVD incidence. It should nonetheless be noted that infant mortality rates were already very high in many areas, likely indicating underlying health concerns even in non-crisis years.