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 455 small to large-scale traders across 14 districts in Sierra Leone (Figure 1).
Thirty-five percent of respondents were local rice traders and 26 percent were imported rice traders, followed by palm oil (21 percent), and cassava (18 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), and less than one percent of traders reported market closures.
Twenty-six 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 since the previous month (Figure 5).
Sixty-two percent of respondents indicated that the current primary agricultural activity is harvesting (Figure 10). Fifty percent of respondents reported normal and on-time agricultural activities (Figure 9).
Forty percent of respondents reported reduced agricultural wage opportunities compared to normal at this time (Figure 8). Twenty-three percent of traders reported that their cash crop sales were lower than the previous month (Figure 7).