Sierra Leone

Ebola in Sierra Leone: The impacts of the ‘Ebola Virus Disease’ on the livelihoods of rural communities, agricultural production and food security

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Introduction In August 2014 Deutsche Welthungerhilfe (DWHH) in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS), the FAO (Sierra Leone) and key partners in the food security and livelihoods sector conducted a rapid assessment of the impacts of the EVD on the livelihoods of rural communities, agricultural production and food security in the hardest hit regions of Sierra Leone. The survey focused on the epicenters of the epidemic, the two eastern districts of Kailahun and Kenema: Within seven days trained enumerators interviewed 110 rural households, 79 vendors at the major markets of the area, 64 traditional leaders and three private sector enterprises operating in the respective districts.

Key Findings

  1. The people's main sources of livelihood have changed due to the outbreak of the EVD. 97% of the surveyed households indicate that their income has dropped between May and August 2014.

  2. The EVD is a driver of migration. Half of the people who have left their communities within the past four months, did so because of the epidemic.

  3. In the epicenters of the Ebola outbreak the food production is decreasing: 80% of the surveyed households expect lower returns than last year. By-laws have discouraged many farmers from harvesting their fields. 71% of the interviewed households struggle to find laborers for their farms.

  4. The EVD limits the availability and increases the costs of food. Certain foods have become scarce. The price of rice has - in average - risen by 30% since May 2014.

  5. The Ebola epidemic has effects on community members' access to financial services: For 77% of the interviewed market vendors the access to credits has decreased since May 2014. In 5% of the surveyed communities banks and microfinance institutions have even halted operations.

  6. Market prospects have deteriorated in the wake of the continuing spread of the EVD. Two thirds of the interviewed traders remark that the volume of traded commodities has dropped significantly.

  7. Awareness among rural communities of the dangers of the EVD has increased considerably: 83% of the interviewed households claim to know details about the disease and its transmission.