In addition to causing severe health impacts throughout the country, the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic undermined food security in Sierra Leone. Many households experienced new or increased food insecurity as the outbreak disrupted income-generating opportunities, decreased purchasing power and restricted movements and market activities.
Chronic poverty also contributes to hunger in Sierra Leone. The UN World Food Program and the World Bank report that over half of the population lives under the national poverty line. According to the 2017 Global Hunger Index,
Sierra Leone faces an alarming level of hunger, with approximately 38 percent of children younger than 5 years of age suffering from stunting, a manifestation of chronic malnutrition.
As of January, recent harvests and normal labor activities are enabling poor households across the country to meet their food needs and face Minimal (IPC 1) levels of food insecurity, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).*
During the Ebola response, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) partnered with non-governmental organizations ACDI/VOCA, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children and World Vision to provide much needed food assistance to households impacted by the Ebola epidemic. This support, provided through a mix of targeted cash transfers, agricultural input vouchers and other complementary activities, boosted food access and household purchasing power while simultaneously strengthening local markets. In addition, FFP supported FEWS NET to increase food security monitoring and reporting in countries affected by the outbreak, enabling decision-makers to better address Ebola-related food insecurity. As recovery from Ebola progresses, FFP is gradually phasing out its emergency programming in Sierra Leone while continuing to monitor the country’s food security situation. FFP is also supporting program evaluation initiatives through the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) to share best practices and lessons learned from the Ebola response to inform future emergency cash-transfer programming in West Africa and beyond.
In response to Freetown’s August 2017 flooding and mudslide disaster, which killed approximately 500 people and displaced more than 1,000 households, FFP coordinated with CARE to address immediate emergency needs. With FFP support, CARE rapidly distributed food and relief items, including hygiene kits and kitchen equipment, to flood-affected families.