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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid