Current issues and what the World Food Programme is doing
The World Food Programme (WFP)’s Ebola response helps people affected by the virus outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, by delivering food and organising logistics alongside the health response. More information can be found on the Ebola emergency page.
What are the current issues in Liberia
Liberia is classified as both a least-developed country and a low-income food-deficit country,ranked 174 out of 187 in the 2013 UNDP Human Development Index. Political upheaval has dominated Liberia’s recent history, and poverty and food insecurity are high across the country and particularly acute in Liberia’s rural areas.
Despite these challenges, the government continues to demonstrate a commitment to national recovery efforts.
Liberia is classified as both a least-developed country and a low-income food-deficit country. With a population of approximately 3.7 million, the nation ranked 174 out of 187 in the 2013 UNDP Human Development Index. Political upheaval has dominated Liberia’s recent history, beginning with a coup d’état in 1980 that ousted the civilian government and ushered in a military regime. Widespread discontent with this regime, however, sparked a rebellion a decade later, leading to prolonged conflict that finally ended in 2003. The first post-war president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, came to power in 2006 and was re-elected in November 2011.
Poverty and food insecurity are high across the country and particularly acute in Liberia’s rural areas. The government-led 2012 Comprehensive Food Security and Nutrition Survey (CFSNS) found that every fifth household in Liberia is food insecure, with the highest rates found in Bomi (55 percent), Grand Kru (46 percent) and River Cess (45 percent) counties. Food insecurity and poverty are strongly correlated, as poor rural households with informal livelihoods tend to be the most food insecure. The report also indicated that the chronic malnutrition rate remains high nationally (36 percent), and infant and young child feeding practices are poor.
Despite these challenges, the government continues to demonstrate a commitment to national recovery efforts. The first Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS I), which articulated the government’s vision for sustainable growth and development, is currently in the implementation phase. PRS II, now under development, will cover 2012 - 2015 and builds on the achievements of PRS I.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Liberia
WFP works closely with the Government for the establishment of a sustainable national school meals programme and government managed food security and nutrition monitoring programmes. To this end in 2011 WFP handed over responsibility of the monitoring and reporting responsibilities to the Ministry of Education for a National School Feeding Policy at central, county and district levels. WFP currently provides daily school meals to over 320,000 primary school children in 10 counties and monthly take – home rations for 9,000 girls in grades 4 -6 where there is the highest gender gap in primary education. Since 2010 WFP has been distributing locally procured rice through WFP’s P4P programme as part of the take – home ration programme.
WFP together with the government of Liberia initiated the school garden programme to not only establish school gardens that will provide school children with direct access to nutritious foods, such as vegetables, but also deliver an essential learning package to students in life skills training, environmental conservation and awareness, improved practices in agriculture and nutrition.
Purchase for Progress
WFP’s P4P initiative began in Liberia in 2009 and currently works with 17 farmers groups, including 8 women’s groups leading to the improved farming income of 2,500 farmers. Since 2009 WFP has purchased 824 metric tons of milled rice which is distributed in country as part of the school take-home rations for girls. The connections to markets and contacts that the P4P programme provides farming groups enables the participating groups to accumulate capital and invest in improved agricultural inputs and technology such as power tillers, rice mills and transport vehicles.
Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation
The PRRO started in September 2009 puts a sharp focus on productive safety net measures in responding to chronic food insecurity and preparing for lean seasons and to mitigate the impact of high food prices on vulnerable rural households. Programmes include Livelihood Asset Promotion, Nutrition Interventions and Community Grain Reserves.
Livelihood Asset Promotion: Through the provision of food assistance coupled with provision of improved seeds and training (from FAO) LAP focuses on engaging food deficient households in building land and water management structures. Since 2010, 34 farmer’s cooperatives, youth and women’s groups have been supported to rehabilitate 1,100 hectares of fertile swamplands and associated small –scale irrigation structures for increased rice production. Targeted farmers increased their yields by more than 100%.
Nutrition intervention / HIV/AIDS: WFP provides food assistance to protect the nutritional and health status of mothers and children at risk of malnutrition, TB patients and people living with HIV. The nutrition programme intervention includes the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition in children under 5 and supporting children under 2 and pregnant and lactating women to prevent stunting at nutrition centres set up by the Ministry of Health and NGO partners. WFP also provides care and treatment to rehabilitate HIV/AIDS patients through nutritional support for moderately malnourished HIV patients and their families with support to minimize illness associated costs, enhance food security and support the patient’s response to therapy. In 2011, 31,500 beneficiaries received nutritional support through targeted health clinics.
Emergency food assistance to Ivorian refugees
Since November 2010, 128,000 Ivorian refugees were hosted in camps and communities in Liberia. Some have returned but 69,000 remain in Liberia. The burden of the refugees on vulnerable communities and the dramatic price increases for the main staples (rice and cassava) saw WFP launch the emergency operation (EMOP) which is expected to extend till June of 2013. The EMOP provides monthly general food distributions to refuges, food support to 60,000 people in targeted host communities through the Food For Assets programme and nutritional support to 2,000 pregnant and lactating women and 3,000 children under 5 through the supplementary food programme.
Featured Liberia publications
A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.
Looking for more publications on Liberia? Visit the Liberia publications archive.