WFP Steps Up Assistance to Meet Urgent Food Needs of Families and Communities Affected By Ebola

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 be providing 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 Liberia, WFP is responding to governmental requests with an emergency operation intended to supply 24,000 people affected by Ebola with full rations for 90 days. Food delivery has begun to the Country Health Teams for distribution to Liberian families under quarantine for suspected or probable Ebola exposure in Lofa, Bong and Nimba counties. Additional food has been handed over to the National Ebola Task Force to distribute to an initial 6,450 affected persons in the nine counties hit by the Ebola outbreak to date.

Beneficiaries include hospitalized victims and their family members, and people under isolation for contact with infected people, among others.

WFP’s food assistance to hospitalized victims in isolation centres ensures that the victims 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 comprising cereals, vegetable oil and pulses.

The Liberian government, with the help of the UN Mission in Liberia, has set up quarantine checkpoints to ban cross-country movement, and is deploying military personnel to affected areas to prevent travel into regions with the disease, and to provide security for health workers.  As of August 7, two counties have been isolated: Vonjama, where a WFP field office is located, and Bomi.

Some WFP activities have been affected: Food for Assets (FFA) in Bomi and Gbarpolu has been disrupted, as Bomi has been quarantined. Food assistance to Ivorian refugees in Nimba is ongoing, and.  FFA activities are ongoing in Grand Kru. School feeding is suspended indefinitely

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.