Ebola in Liberia: Impact on food security and livelihoods
This publication (PDF) by Action Against Hunger examines the effects of Ebola on livelihoods and food security in Liberia and provides recommendations for future crises. Findings show that the Ebola crisis has also become a livelihood and food security crisis, affecting wide sections of the Liberian population. The three most affected livelihood groups are 1) petty trading 2) wage labor, and 3) agriculture. Ebola aversion measures (quarantine, road blocks, and curfew) have had the most significant impact on livelihoods and food security. A general economic slowdown, along with Ebola-related fears and other changes in behaviour have had a significant impact on the income earning potential. The purchasing power of consumers has declined and market activity has stagnated. Vendors have been particularly affected by a lack of customers, increased cost of transportation, and the disruption in marketing due to the market closure ordered by the Government of Liberia. Little has been provided to assist communities to recover economically. They need micro-loans in order to revive their livelihood activities. External assistance provided to communities has focused on Ebola-related hygiene items. WASH community programmes were lacking in the country. There was a shift towards consuming less expensive, less nutritious food and limiting on dietary diversity. The publication comes with a number of recommendations: 1) Inject cash into communities to recover food consumption, market activity and incomes. 2) Improve access to micro loans. 3) Integrate livelihood-based responses to improve WASH outcomes. 4) Ensure sufficient level of community involvement. 5) Interventions should target communities with cases, but also with high vulnerability before the crisis. 6) Support with agriculture extension and inputs to mitigate possibility of food shortage. 7) Increase options for alternatives to the consumption of bush meat, as source of protein and livelihood. 8) Ensure that emergency interventions do not undermine medium- and long-term development goals. 9) Ensure that all interventions are coordinated with the government.