As the Ebola disease spreads wider around West Africa, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO) has sounded alarm that food price of some commodities is skyrocketing.
In a press statement in Washington, DC by the organisation’s Regional Representative for Africa, BukarTijani identified Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea as countries currently facing food shortages.
He noted that the Ebola eruption had impelled governments of the most affected countries to curtail the movement of persons, which in turn, affects conveyance of food items, and this might cause another menace in the areas.
“In Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, zones quarantined to combat the spread of the virus have seriously curtailed the movement of food. This has led to panic buying, food shortages and significant food price hikes on some commodities.
“Now these latest price spikes are effectively putting food completely out of their reach. This situation may have social repercussions that could lead to subsequent impact on the disease containment.
“Access to food has become a pressing concern for many people in the three affected countries and their neighbours. However, the closure of border crossings and the isolation of border areas where the three countries intersect are sharply increasing food prices.
“For example, in Liberia, the price of cassava crops went up 150 per cent within the first few weeks of August.
“With the main harvest now at risk and trade and movements of goods severely restricted, food insecurity is poised to intensify in the weeks and months to come. The situation will have long-lasting impacts on farmers’ livelihoods and rural economies,” he stated.
The situation is especially acute in Monrovia, which has witnessed the worst impact, with some reports reaching Daily Newswatch suggesting more than a thousand persons have so far lost their lives to the strange disease.
As if to add salt to injury, the West Point zone of Monrovia, which has been quarantined for weeks, was hit earlier this week by a storm that destroyed scores of residential buildings, rendering many residents homeless.
Liberia’s staple diet is rice. The country imports as much as 90 percent of its rice to meet its consumption demand. Insider reports from Monrovia suggest that the next shipment of rice may arrive the Freeport of Monrovia by the first week in October, if urgent steps are not taken by international aid agencies and foreign partners.
World Health Organisation(WHO) latest official number of Ebola virus disease cases in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone stands at 3,069, with over 1,552 deaths, making this the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded.
In the same vein, the UN World Food Programme (UNWFP) said it has launched an emergency aid operation targeting some 65,000 tonnes of food to 1.3 million people in health centres and quarantine areas to meet short-term food relief needs.
UNWFP Regional Director for West Africa, Denise Brown, in a statement said that the agency was also multiplying efforts to bring food assistance to people in need and to provide logistical support to sister agencies working to contain the virus.
The agency is deploying a total of 50 additional staff across the three most affected countries and is urging it needs $70 million to carry out its aid operations through November.
Friday September 05, 2014