News / Africa

    Ebola Threatens Food Security

    A  man, left,  renting out his wheelbarrow moves food goods for people in the West Point area that have been hardest hit by the Ebola virus spreading in Monrovia, Liberia, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014.  A Liberian doctor who was among three Africans to receive an experimental Ebola drug has died, the country's information minister said Monday. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
    A man, left, renting out his wheelbarrow moves food goods for people in the West Point area that have been hardest hit by the Ebola virus spreading in Monrovia, Liberia, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. A Liberian doctor who was among three Africans to receive an experimental Ebola drug has died, the country's information minister said Monday. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Joe DeCapua

    The Ebola epidemic is raising serious concerns about food security in Liberia -- the country hardest hit by the outbreak in West Africa.  The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization will conduct rapid assessments of the situation.

    Listen to De Capua report on Ebola and food security
    Listen to De Capua report on Ebola and food securityi
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    Food security in Liberia is being threatened on a number of fronts mostly due to fear of infection.  For example, food imported by ships and planes may not arrive as often. And Liberian farmers, who often work in groups to boost production, are not doing so.

    Joseph Boiwu, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s Assistant Country Representative for Program in Liberia, “This is a serious situation that we all need to be very concerned about. Even prices are increasing. If ships are not coming into this country – we depend mostly on imports – what about food? Those are serious concerns that we need to take on board and think about Liberia.”

    Ebola has spread in the farming regions.

    “As we speak, you will notice the total number of cases in this country has reached up to 1,378. And Lofa County is one of the breadbasket counties of this country. And the cases they have are up to 542. So, all the counties, including Nimba, are affected,” he said.

    The World Health Organization regularly issues updated figures on the Ebola outbreak. So, the numbers mentioned by Boiwu at the time of the interview may rise.

    Efforts are underway to persuade Liberian farmers to return to working in groups. But the FAO’s Boiwu said that’s easier said than done.

    “One of the methods that they have given that will help people to stay away from Ebola is to avoid being in groups. So farmers, they are not in groups again. We have been trying to organized farmer-based organizations, where you have farmers working in groups. And individual farming is very small. They can’t produce sufficient [food] as individuals, so we encourage them to work in groups. But group farming now is just not possible due to this Ebola. So they are all afraid.”

    What’s more, movement has been restricted in some Liberian counties.

    The FAO has been monitoring food prices in Monrovia. For example, the price of the staple cassava is reported to have increased by 150-percent. Pepper is up 133-percent. The U.N. agency’s rapid assessments will determine what the food price hikes are outside of the capital.

    The agency said that there’s “urgent need for short-cycled vegetable production…as well as urgent support for fishermen…to enable them to increase their catch.”

    Health officials believe the Ebola virus was transmitted from animals – bats and monkeys, for example – to humans. The FAO will conduct a risk assessment of animal/human contact and develop safeguards. The assessment is expected to lead to an early warning surveillance system that could quickly detect the presence of infected wildlife – and trigger effective public health measures.

    Boiwu said, “Most of the people like hunters, like farmers, they depend on meat – their source of protein. So we’ll also conduct an analysis of their value chain situation of bushmeat. When we have this information we think it’s going to help with Ebola from our perspective.”

    Rapid assessments of food security are also scheduled to get underway in Guinea and Sierra Leone. 

    The FAO’s sister agency, the World Food Program, reported it’s “scaling-up” its operations, not only in Liberia, but neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea. The WFP says the goal is to reach one-million people in Ebola affected areas with food deliveries.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.