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Support to Populations in Areas Affected by the Ebola Outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone

The document has been modifed as BR No. 1 (see below)

In August WFP developed an initial regional response to the Ebola crisis, focusing on the provision of food assistance to accompany the health response for persons directly affected by the outbreak. During this critical support phase, WFP has begun to scale up by reinforcing human resources, warehouse and transport capacity; developing safe distribution guidelines and delivering personal protection equipment; and establishing humanitarian air corridors and reinforcing humanitarian depots. Over the same period, new information about the evolution of the virus has emerged, and medical efforts on the ground are adapting.

The outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa began in Guinea in December 2013 but was not detected until March 2014. The number of cases and areas affected has rapidly surged since July 2014 in the primary affected countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. 

The ongoing outbreak has become the largest ever reported. On 8 August, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the situation an International Public Health Emergency. Against this backdrop, the Governments of the affected countries adopted a Joint Declaration outlining measures to eradicate the virus in the sub-region – including quarantine of contact cases and special measures to isolate border areas and high-risk zones where the highest incidence of Ebola is reported and where cross-border movement and trade is a primary factor contributing to propagation of the virus. The health crisis is having immediate humanitarian implications. The disease and containment efforts have disrupted trade and the rain-fed agricultural season, two primary livelihood sources in the affected areas. Traditional cross-border and inter-country supply routes have been perturbed as entire geographic areas are cordoned off and other countries in the region close borders and access points (sea, land, air). The crisis is evolving in a context of chronic fragility with high poverty, high market dependency, poor crop yields, and low health indicators; the situation is made further complex by the continued fragility following decades of conflict and civil strife.

To ensure the basic needs of populations during the crisis period, WHO and the Governments of the three primary affected countries have requested WFP to provide food assistance for an initial three month period to 1 million persons in priority “hot zones” near where the national borders intersect. Due to the severity of the crisis, additional areas beyond the border zones. The outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa began in Guinea in December 2013 but was not detected until March 2014. The number of cases and areas affected has rapidly surged since July 2014 in the primary affected countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

The ongoing outbreak has become the largest ever reported. On 8 August, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the situation an International Public Health Emergency.

Against this backdrop, the Governments of the affected countries adopted a Joint Declaration outlining measures to eradicate the virus in the sub-region – including quarantine of contact cases and special measures to isolate border areas and high-risk zones where the highest incidence of Ebola is reported and where cross-border movement and trade is a primary factor contributing to propagation of the virus.

The health crisis is having immediate humanitarian implications. The disease and containment efforts have disrupted trade and the rain-fed agricultural season, two primary livelihood sources in the affected areas. Traditional cross-border and inter-country supply routes have been perturbed as entire geographic areas are cordoned off and other countries in the region close borders and access points (sea, land, air). The crisis is evolving in a context of chronic fragility with high poverty, high market dependency, poor crop yields, and low health will be targeted and assisted as required in coordination with humanitarian and health partners and National Task-forces. 

WFP will also continue to support Ebola treatment centres across the three countries. Through this Regional Emergency Operation, WFP aims to assist as many as 1.3 million people, including: 

a) confirmed/suspected cases in hospitals receiving medical care; 

b) confirmed/suspected contact cases in quarantine/observation; and 

c) communities in “hot zones” where availability and access to food is anticipated to have deteriorated. WFP will work with NGO and health partners to provide an enhanced general food ration which addresses caloric and micronutrient requirements; particular attention is given to the nutrition needs of young children and women of reproductive age as availability and access to preventative health and nutrition treatment services is impacted by the crisis. Given the cross-border nature of the crisis, the Regional Emergency Operation plans for a coherent and coordinated response and more equitable distribution of resources across the three countries; in doing so, WFP can best ensure its life-saving objective and mitigate the risk of exacerbating social tensions between communities. The Operation presents a significant scale-up from the response originally outlined in the country-specific Immediate Response Emergency Operations first developed at the onset of the crisis, and is in line with
the request from Governments and WHO. WFP has also been requested to support logistics coordination and capacity for the response in the three countries. 

In order to rapidly scale up and address the complex operating environment, on 13 August 2014 the Ebola crisis was elevated to a WFP Corporate Level III Emergency. A Special Operation for Humanitarian Air Services has already been launched to ensure movement of personnel.

The situation remains highly fluid. Accordingly, the operation plans for flexibility in targeting to allow teams to respond as required over the coming three months. The most likely scenario is that a medium-term humanitarian response will be required in the most affected communities where livelihoods have been completely disrupted and where agriculture activities are anticipated to suffer. Over the coming months, additional clarity on the evolution of the situation and the impact of the crisis will allow WFP to re-evaluate and adjust as necessary.

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WFP Offices
Country at a glance 2014
Planned Beneficiaries0
Beneficiary needs (mt)0
Beneficiary needs ($US)30,305,825
Donors - 2014 ($US)
Donors - Directed contributions
Multilateral contributionsUS$ -0
USA8,729,877
Switzerland277,162
Private Donors46,200
Threats to food security
  • Low infrastructures
  • Disrupted agricultural systems
  • High unemployment rate
  • Poor sanitation and water quality