Between November 2014 and January 2016, FEWS NET worked with Mobile Accord (GeoPoll) to conduct seventeen 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 subsequent rounds 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 January 18th, 2016 (seventeenth round of data collection). The sample includes 612 small to large-scale traders across 14 counties in Liberia (Figure 1).
Thirty-two percent of respondents were cassava traders and 26 percent were local rice traders, followed by imported rice (23 percent) and palm oil traders (20 percent).
During the week of January 18th, 23 percent of survey respondents reported that the most important market in their area operated at reduced levels (Figures 2 and 3). However, only seven traders reported market closures.
Thirty-two percent of traders indicated that market supplies of main commodities were lower than the previous month (Figure 4).
High transport costs was the most frequently cited reason for reduced market supplies compared to the previous month (Figure 5).
Forty-two percent of respondents indicated that the current primary agricultural activity is land preparation (Figure 9). Fifty-three percent of respondents reported that agricultural activities were normal and on time (Figure 10).
Thirty-three percent of respondents reported less agricultural wage opportunities compared to normal at this time (Figure 8). Thirty-four percent of traders reported that their cash crop sales were lower than the previous month (Figure 7).