Between November 2014 and March 2015 FEWS NET worked with Mobile Accord (GeoPoll) to conduct seven rounds of SMS-based trader surveys in Liberia and Sierra Leone on the status of market activities and operating costs. Liberia and Sierra Leone are FEWS NET remote monitoring countries. In remote monitoring countries, analysts typically work from a regional office, relying on a network of partners for information. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than FEWS NET presence countries. The SMS-based survey results serve to corroborate key informant and partner reports on market activities and serve as inputs to FEWS NET’s integrated food security analysis on the impacts of the Ebola outbreak. The first round of data collection identified a sample of traders to monitor fundamental market characteristics (Table 1). During the second through sixth rounds, the survey focused on market activities, while the seventh round inquired about both market and agricultural activities. Data was collected on a bi-weekly basis for rounds 2-6 and on a monthly basis thereafter.
This report provides a summary of findings from a FEWS NET trader survey using a SMS-based platform through GeoPoll during the week of March 2, 2015 (seventh round of data collection). The sample includes 500 small to large-scale traders across 15 counties in Liberia (Figure 1).
Thirty percent of respondents were imported rice traders and 30 percent were local rice traders, followed by palm oil (20 percent) and cassava traders (20 percent).
During the week of March 2nd, over 28 percent of survey respondents reported that the most important market in their area operated at reduced levels (Figures 2 and 3). However, only ten traders reported market closures.
Thirty percent of traders indicated that market supplies of main commodities were lower than normal at this time (Figure 4).
High transport costs was the most frequently cited reason for reduced market supplies over the previous 10 days (Figure 5).
Over 52 percent of respondents indicated that the current primary agricultural activity is land preparation (Figure 9). Forty-four percent of respondents reported that agricultural activities were normal and on time (Figure 10).
More than 37 percent of respondents reported less wage opportunities compared to normal at this time (Figure 8). Over 35 percent of traders reported that they were not able to sell their cash crops as usual at this time of year (Figure 7).