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Mercy Corps: Impact of Ebola epidemic deepens as Liberian households report eating fewer meals

In-depth market assessment of Liberian communities details growing economic crisis


A new report by the global humanitarian agency Mercy Corps details how some Ebola containment protocols are straining food security, market supply chains and household incomes in Liberia. In a recent assessment, 90 percent of households reported coping with decreased income and rising prices by reducing the amount of food eaten at each meal, and substituting preferred food with lower quality or less expensive food. Eighty-five percent of households also reported eating fewer meals each day.

“Prices are spiking, household purchasing power is dropping and transportation restrictions are limiting the availability of goods in local markets,” says Javier Alvarez, Mercy Corps’ Liberia country director. “Mercy Corps will help by supporting farmers so they keep working, providing cash transfers and emergency food assistance to vulnerable households, and aiding the movement of goods around the country.”

Mercy Corps’ report puts forward key recommendations to bolster the Liberian economy, which the agency will begin to implement. These include:

• Provide farmers with cash transfers and agricultural tools to mitigate the effects of increased prices and reduced support from existing or paused humanitarian programs.
• Work with local government to improve transportation issues that are limiting the availability of food and other products in local markets.
• Deliver emergency food assistance through cash transfers or in-kind distributions.

Mercy Corps conducted its assessment in Lofa and Nimba counties and parts of Monrovia from October 3 to 13, 2014. The research team conducted 122 household surveys, 122 vendor surveys, 20 focus group discussions and 65 key informant interviews. Mercy Corps has worked in Liberia since 2002 supporting its economic recovery and social transition following years of civil war. In response to the Ebola crisis, the agency has also mounted a public-health education campaign that will reach two million people in six months to change behaviors and reduce transmission of the deadly virus. 


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