MoA and MoH launch rapid national food security survey
Ministers of Agriculture and Health, in collaboration with the World Food Program (WFP), and other sector partners have launched a two-week rapid food security and nutrition assessment survey aimed at urban and rural communities in Liberia’s fifteen counties.
The initiative is part of efforts to assess the impacts of the global crisis on agricultural production, rural livelihoods, food security and the nutritional status of households and communities.
The socio-economic shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine have further hampered the already precarious food security situation in Liberia in recent years.
According to the 2022 report on the state of food security and nutrition in the world (SOFI), the number of people affected by hunger in the world rose to 828 million in 2021, an increase of around 46 million. since 2020 and 150 million since the epidemic. of the COVID-19 pandemic, with sub-Saharan Africa bearing the heaviest burden.
Additionally, the current crisis between Ukraine and Russia has impacted Liberia at both macro and household levels.
According to the risk and impact assessment of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis on food security in the ECOWAS region – June 2022 carried out jointly by FAO, WFP and ECOWAS; Total cereal production (maize, rice, millet, sorghum, fonio and wheat) is down 1.8% compared to last year for all West African countries, indicates a press release from the PAM.
The report says that in Liberia, a 10% drop in local rice production in 2023 compared to 2022 is expected.
“We have faced several ongoing shocks and these shocks are known to be the types of shocks that increase vulnerability and reduce resilience. But to what extent has vulnerability increased or resilience eroded? These are things we don’t really know,” Agriculture Minister Jeanine M. Cooper said.
“Due to the crisis in Ukraine and the harsh dry season we have had to deal with, where water levels have fallen below what we can remember, we realized that we had anecdotal evidence that we had a crisis on our hands, but we don’t have the solid, evidence-based, technical reliability. So I’m very happy to launch this assessment so that we have data on what’s going on in terms of food security, malnutrition and vulnerability that our people face and so that we can design our responses, programs, plans and structure them to help people overcome these shocks and increase their resilience so that these shocks, even if they continue, do not turn into a disaster,” added Minister Cooper.
The Rapid Food Security and Nutrition Assessment, funded by the Joint UN Fund for the SDGs, will be undertaken by key partners, including ministries of agriculture and health, UN agencies ( WFP, FAO, UNICEF and WHO) and NGOs. Interviewer training began on July 15 and field data collection is scheduled to take place from July 19 to August 4, 2022.
“This assessment comes at the right time,” said Health Minister Dr Wilhelmina Jallah.
“Working as a team, we can all ensure that the assessment is done so that despite what is happening in the world, we can prevent malnutrition and ensure that pregnant women survive to have healthy babies. who will become productive citizens in the country.. So that the citizens of Liberia can have a brighter future,” said Dr. Aliou Diongue, WFP Representative and Country Director in Liberia.
“As Liberians continue to grapple with soaring prices that weigh on household purchasing power and increase vulnerability due to the fragile situation with COVID-19, the global energy crisis and high food prices ; there is no better time to collect critical data so that the government and development partners can understand the food security and nutrition situation across the country and have solid evidence for programming and taking decision,” added Diongue.
He continued, “WFP Liberia’s Research, Evaluation and Monitoring (RAM) Unit is ready to conduct this investigation using a combination of existing assessment technologies to identify the underlying causes of the food insecurity and nutrition in the country.
“With this information, we can work together and take a holistic approach to mitigate the impact of this crisis on vulnerable people in Liberia,” he added.
As of 2018, Liberia has yet to complete or publish a comprehensive food security and nutrition survey report.
However, this year Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide, in collaboration with the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health, launched the 2021 Global Hunger Index report which indicates that the nutritional status of Liberia is “serious”.
The country now ranks 110th out of 135 countries assessed with a score of 33.3 out of 100 on the issue of nutrition. Malnutrition and stunting remain serious problems, especially among children. This indicates that more needs to be done to improve the nation’s food and nutrition status, according to the report.
The report is a comprehensive tool designed to measure and track the level of hunger in the world.
It is assessed on four component indicators, including undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and infant mortality rate, which are reported by countries.
Some issues highlighted in the report, and also recommended by stakeholders, included the need to build resilience in the food system by addressing conflict and climate change, improving financing opportunities for agriculture, encouraging multi-sectoral relationships for improving food security and attracting more youth engagement for agriculture.