WFP, along with other UN agencies, provided support to Ministry of Agriculture and Liberia Institute of Statistics & Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) to undertake the bi-annual Comprehensive Food Security and Nutrition Survey 2012. The survey, which is the biggest in the series of the last four assessments, was designed to capture statistically valid information at county level. The overall objective of the CFSNS, which covered Monrovia and 130 districts in all 15 counties, is to provide information on the food security and nutritional status in Liberia and the factors influencing them.
The survey indicated that 1 out of 5 Liberians is food insecure and an additional 1 out of 3 Liberians is vulnerable to food insecurity because of their precarious livelihood and food consumption. At national level, this represent 750,000 people being food insecure with an additional 1.2 million people exposed to immediate food insecurity in cases of external or internal shock.
The survey established that food insecurity and poverty are highly correlated, as a third of the poorest households are food insecure and a further 37 percent are highly vulnerable to food insecurity. The situation is most severe in Bomi, River Cess and Grand Kru where 55 percent, 45 percent and 46 percent of households are food insecure respectively.
The effects of food insecurity are reflected in the health of children, with chronic malnutrition at 36 percent nationally but with critical levels of chronic malnutrition in six areas - peaking at 49 percent in Grand Gedeh, 46 percent in Grand Bassa and 45 percent in Nimba.
Agriculture, while being the main source of income and GDP, remains largely under developed. The survey indicated that 43 percent of the households engaged in farming lack tools and few households have access to improved seed varieties. Yet cash crop production has grown dramatically from 28 percent in 2006 to 55 percent in 2012.
One-fifth of households also cited a lack of labor as a constraint to increasing food production due to high urban migration from rural areas. Less than 20 percent of the land in Liberia is privately owned; many people occupy either state or private lands with little or no statutory or formal legal arrangements.
Other issues like poor road networks leading to poor market integration and high prices in remote areas, low education levels, rapid increase in urban and peri-urban population, poor sanitation and lack of improved drinking water and ill health of children and mothers along with inadequate feeding practices all contribute to food insecurity and high levels of chronic malnutrition.
WFP’s Country Director, Adama Diop-Faye, emphasized in her remarks that Liberia has come a long way in the past decade particularly in peace building and rehabilitating economic infrastructure. However, with the recent survey findings, she appealed to the donor community to continue its financial support to development activities like social safety nets, livelihood asset rehabilitation and preventive nutrition. The current Country Programme (2013-2017), which aims to address and strengthen safety net programmes, remains chronically underfunded at 11 percent.
Mrs Diop-Faye concluded by assuring the public of WFP’s continued commitment to support the Government of Liberia by gradually scaling up its existing interventions and working together to find sustainable solutions to reduce food and nutrition insecurity in the country.
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Adama Diop-Faye, WFP Liberia Representative and Country Director, UN Drive, Sekou Touré Avenue, Mamba Point, Monrovia, Liberia Telepohone: +231 776 500 218