UN World Food Programme

WFP's Response To Ebola Emergency

Jenneh Kamera, a resident of the Liberian capital Monrovia, takes her family’s food rations home. Normally she sells chicken and frozen foods at the city market. But when her district became a quarantined zone, transport restrictions meant she could no longer get supplies for her market stall.

(Copyright: WFP/Frances Kennedy)

WFP is scaling up its response to the Ebola virus to provide assistance to around 1 million people affected by the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, delivering food alongside the health response. WFP is also assisting the wider humanitarian community with logistics, helping other organisations to get aid workers and critical supplies into the affected areas. Donate here

WFP has launched a regional emergency operation which will provide food assistance to around 1.3 million people in the three most affected countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Food is being distributed to people under medical quarantine, people under treatment, and their relatives. We are working alongside national governments, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners. 

WFP Scales Up Its Response To Ebola Outbreak In West Africa

WFP is scaling up its response to Ebola virus outbreak, providing food assistance to more than 1 million people in West Africa. “The operation has been quite intense and we intend to scale it up as the need arises,” Etienne Christopher Saint-Jean, the WFP national logistics officer in Liberia, explained. “We intend to be very proactive instead of reactive to the situation.”

The objective is to prevent a health crisis from becoming a food crisis. In the three countries, the food chain is threatened at many levels, starting with production. Farmers are leaving behind their crops and livestock as they seek areas they perceive as safer from exposure to the virus. Travel restrictions and displacements are likely to affect food prices.

The bans on eating traditional protein sources, such as bush meat, may also have implications for the food security and nutrition of people in these communities. Some of the animals that people normally hunt for food, such as bats and apes, are known to be potential carriers of the Ebola virus.

On the top of that, hundreds of households have already lost one or more of their members. The majority of Ebola victims fall within the 15-45 year bracket and are therefore frequently the main income providers. The reduction of household income coupled with the already observed food price rise will further deteriorate the food security situation.

The Spread Of Ebola

The current Ebola epidemic in West Africa began with an outbreak in Guinea in December 2013. It has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. It is the most severe outbreak since the discovery of the virus in 1976. Click to enlarge map.

Map of the spread of Ebola

 

Food Assistance

Here's what WFP is doing in the three most affected countries: 

Guinea: WFP began food distributions because of Ebola four months ago and has reached around 40,000 people (in Biffa, Fria, Télémélé, N’Zerekore, Macenta and Guekedo districts). Preparations are being made to gradually increase distributions to 350,000 people over a period of three months.

Sierra Leone: WFP is reaching Ebola patients in health centres and affected households in the epicentres of Kenema and Kailahun as well as houses that are under quarantine in 12 out of 13 districts in Sierra Leone. Up to 400,000 people in Sierra Leone are targeted under the regional response for the next 3 months.

Liberia: Between  July 1 and Sept. 4, WFP delivered food to some 67,000 people at Ebola case management centres and in quarantined communities. The distributions have covered 10 of Liberia’s 15 counties, including the West Point slum community in the capital Monrovia and the Ebola epicentre of Foya District in Liberia’s northern Lofa County. The plan is to reach 449,000 people over a three-month period.

Logistics

Because of its expertise in logistics, WFP has been given the job of coordinating logistics for the entire humanitarian community involved in the Ebola response. This happens through the Logistics Cluster  -- the group of humanitarian organisations that work together to ensure services like transport and storage work well during big emergencies. The Cluster has already provided support to UN agencies, NGOs and government authorities. 

WFP also manages the UN Humanitarian Response Depots (UNHRD), which store emergency supplies that can be transported within 48 hours. UNHRD has recently sent more than US$220, 000 worth of protective gear like gloves, masks and emergency health kits for the World Health Organisation (WHO), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and WFP from its depots in Ghana and Dubai.

In addition, it manages the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), which transports humanitarian workers and light cargo to emergencies around the world. UNHAS is currently operating in West Africa and has flown more than 100 passengers from organisations like WHO, UNICEF, MSF and WFP into and out of the Ebola-affected areas since Aug. 16.