WFP Steps Up Assistance to Meet Urgent Food Needs of Families and Communities Affected By Ebola
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Published on 18 August 2014

West Africa Ebola Outbreak, People Affected by Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). (Copyright:WFP/OMEP)

The United Nations World Food Programme is scaling up its operations to provide food to around 1 million people living in restricted access areas in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

The United Nations World Food Programme is scaling up its operations to provide food to around 1 million people living in restricted access areas in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

In response to the continued spread of the Ebola virus, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is scaling up its operations through a regional emergency response that will provide food assistance to around 1 million people living in restricted access areas in the three affected countries that WFP serves.  WFP has been and will continue to provide food to people in medical quarantines, people under treatment and their relatives, and to the most vulnerable people in the villages affected by the outbreak.

In Sierra Leone, the initial emergency response funds targeted 27,000 people in the Kailahun district, and four Ebola treatment centres in Kenema, Daru, Kailahun and Koindu. However, the Ebola outbreak has affected a greater number of the population than expected in these districts. 

Since the beginning of its regional emergency response, WFP has provided 500 metric tons of food to over 32,000 individuals, including Ebola patients in treatment centres, affected households, and quarantined areas in 12 out of 13 districts in Sierra Leone. Approximately 35,000 beneficiaries from 7,000 households are expected to benefit from the food distributions.

Beneficiaries include households hosting children of Ebola patients, elderly people, children under five years of age, pregnant women and lactating mothers, abandoned children, Ebola patients, patients discharged from health centres, and their families.

 WFP’s food assistance to hospitalized victims in isolation centres ensures that they receive the necessary nutrients for their bodies to fight the virus. WFP’s food assistance also ensures that while under quarantine, people have enough to eat and do not have to leave their homes to purchase food.  WFP assistance thus helps to stabilize affected communities by limiting unnecessary movement and enabling people to cope with lost livelihoods. 

Food distribution methods are different for hospitalized patients and other affected people. Hospitalized beneficiaries receive cooked meals which are prepared by a partner on location.  Other beneficiaries are given individual take-home rations of cereals, vegetable oil, pulses, and salt that will cover up to 90 days.

To prevent the spread of the Ebola virus, WFP has suspended traditional programs, such as Food for Assets (FFA) activities, which require large gatherings of people, in the Kailahun district.  Additionally, food purchases from smallholder farmers through Agriculture Business Centers in Kailahun under the Purchase for Progress program have also been suspended.  Schools in Sierra Leone remain closed with no possible reopening in September due to Ebola.

WFP staff members in affected countries are not directly in contact with Ebola patients.  However, they have received and are following WHO guidance to prevent contamination.