Security monitoring

Emergency Food Security Monitoring System: Measuring the impact of Covid-19 on food security and vulnerability in Sierra Leone – June 2020 – Sierra Leone


Household food security exists when all members always have physical and economic access to enough safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. In contrast, food insecurity is a situation of uncertainty or limited availability and access to adequate, safe and socially acceptable nutritional diets, often underscored by poverty, population growth and environmental and climatic issues that affect the food production and distribution.

In Sierra Leone, domestic production by smallholder farmers, most of whom practice sub-subsistence farming, is insufficient to feed the country’s 8 million people. As a result, Sierra Leone imports around 80% of the food consumed. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, it was expected that 425,000 tonnes of cereals would likely be imported in the 2019/2020 marketing yearii, with these requirements likely to have further increased given the negative impact of COVID-19 and the closure of land borders on food. supply chains.

Given this situation, in Sierra Leone, most households, including those engaged in agriculture, depend on market purchases to meet their food needs. In recent years food prices have continued to rise and fluctuate as the value of the local currency (Leones) declines. COVID-19 fears have negatively impacted agriculture and livelihood activities, worsening an already difficult economic situation. Price monitoring from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and WFP shows how rice and cassava commodity prices increased by 8% and 17% respectively in the first quarter of 2020iii. The impacts of COVID-19 followed the climatic shocks of 2019, particularly heavy and erratic rainfall which reduced agricultural production due to seed failure and crop damage, reducing availability and access to water. food and causing upward pressure on food prices.

On March 24, 2020, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio declared a state of national public health emergency for a period of 12 months. On March 27, 2020, Sierra Leone closed its land borders with neighboring Guinea and Liberia, reducing regional trade and the influx of agricultural products. On March 31, 2020, Sierra Leone registered its index case of COVID-19. On April 10, 2020, the government instituted an inter-district ban which hampered the flow of agricultural trade. Measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 have had negative indirect impacts.

Economic and agricultural activities have been reduced by a series of 3-day closures and reduced opening hours. As of August 19, Sierra Leone has confirmed 1,959 cases of COVID-19.

It is in this context that MAF, with the support of the World Food Program (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Food Security Working Group (FSWG), decided to implement the FSMS E-Assessment to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on food security and vulnerability. It is hoped that the E-FSMS will also provide key empirical data that policy makers can use to design, plan and target emergency and recovery initiatives to safeguard food security for the most vulnerable during this unprecedented time.