Assessment of Chronic Food Insecurity in Liberia, June 2017

Background

In early December 2016, FEWS NET, the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), and the Integrated Phase Classification Global Support Unit (IPC GSU) convened stakeholders from a variety of Liberian ministries, international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and United Nation (UN) agencies to pilot a chronic food insecurity analysis using IPC tools. The objective of this exercise was to both understand the dynamics of chronic food insecurity in Liberia and to inform future chronic analysis within the larger region. Using a range of data on the quantity and quality of food consumption, levels of malnutrition, and a variety of contributing factors, participants classified the severity of chronic food insecurity for each of the country’s 15 counties, estimated the size of the chronically food insecure populations, and highlighted the key limiting and underlying factors. Figure 1 presents the final conclusions of this analysis.

Summary of Classification Conclusions

The IPC-Chronic Classification consists of four levels of chronic food insecurity (CFI) severity, specifically: Minimal CFI (Level 1), Mild CFI (Level 2), Moderate CFI (Level 3), and Severe CFI (Level 4). Analysis considers three food security domains: food consumption (quality), food consumption (quantity) and chronic malnutrition. Based on an analysis of these domains, with data disaggregated for Liberia’s 15 counties, the entire country was classified as Moderate CFI (Level 3). Overall, 32 percent of Liberia’s 4.2 million people were classified as Moderate or Severe CFI. The estimated prevalence of Moderate and Severe CFI was highest in the South Eastern regions (Grand Gedeh, Rivercess, Sinoe, Grand Kru, Maryland, and River Gee) where it ranged between 40 and 45 percent, compared to 30 to 35 percent in other rural parts of the country. The prevalence of moderate and severe CFI was lowest in greater Monrovia. Liberian households, which face moderate and severe chronic food insecurity experience seasonal food deficits for two to four months per year and have poor dietary diversity. Cassava, rice, and vegetables are widely grown and serve as primary livelihoods, but low yields and the extremely poor state of the country’s road network constrain farmer incomes, market access, and contribute to high food prices in rural areas. Many households are likely to have moderately stunted children and very limited resilience to shocks, such as the Ebola epidemic that occurred in 2014–2015.