Quarantined Villagers Lose Access to Food During Epidemic

November 9, 2015
Respect shows off her newly grown peppers planted with seeds provided through USAID. Photo: Mette Karlsen/USAID

Cash, Vouchers Help Liberians During Ebola-Triggered Food Crisis

[Note: this article appears in Bread's 2015 November-December newsletter]

Across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the 2014-2015 Ebola crisis affected hundreds of thousands of families. Husbands lost wives, children lost parents, and communities lost entire families to the deadly disease. While Ebola brought an unprecedented health epidemic, it also gave rise to a less visible crisis — a food crisis.

“We were stigmatized as ‘the Ebola people,’” said Respect*, a 28-year-old living in Montserrado County, Liberia. “I was unable to sell anything I grew in the market.”

Respect described how Ebola hit her community during the early summer of 2014, and how it was one of the first to be affected by what would soon take thousands of lives throughout the region. In Respect’s village, after a pregnant woman died from what was thought to be complications from an abortion, and after her family performed a traditional burial ceremony, it was discovered that she had in fact died from Ebola. The virus spread rapidly through Respect’s community, taking 18 lives.

Over the course of the Ebola crisis, Respect’s village was quarantined more than 10 times. Moreover, Respect, along with the rest of her community, was stigmatized and unable to sell anything in the market. As time went on, borders closed, food prices rose, markets were further disrupted, and food became less accessible to the most vulnerable households. Some families were forced to eat seeds normally used for planting or sell their tools to buy food.

Getting relief

Thanks to a USAID Office of Food for Peace project implemented by Mercy Corps, thousands of Ebola-affected communities received much-needed assistance. Families received cash transfers to purchase food, and agricultural input vouchers to replace seeds and tools to restart planting.

Respect used the cash to buy basic food items and the vouchers to plant peppers in her home garden. Grateful for USAID’s assistance, Respect said she is excited to start her own business and sell her peppers to provide for herself and her household.

The one-year, $9 million project, which began in January 2015, aims to help more than 150,000 people in Liberia recover from the economic impacts of the Ebola outbreak. Across the region, USAID and its partners are boosting household purchasing power to help vulnerable families buy food and other essential items they need to get back on their feet.

After months of uncertainty and despair due to Ebola, families are restarting their livelihoods, children are back in school, and communities are rebuilding to be stronger than before.

*Last name withheld to protect privacy. This article first appeared on the USAID website.

Photo: Respect shows off her newly grown peppers planted with seeds provided through USAID. Mette Karlsen/USAID.

Tools
from our Resource Library

For Education

For Faith

  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    A brief examination of the biblical approach to health as a hunger issue.

    Includes an introduction to the issue, a Scriptural reflection, practical actions you can take, and a prayer.

  • Sermon by David Beckmann at Duke University Chapel

    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.

    Bruce Puckett urged...

  • Bread Newsletter January 2016

    In this issue: Another Great Year for Bread; Catholics Begin Observance of Holy Year of Mercy; Serving on ‘God’s Wave Length’ for 39 Years; and more.
     

For Advocacy

  • Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

    A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.

    For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.

    Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.

    ...

  • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017

    Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.

    Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The...

  • Health Care Is a Hunger Issue

    Learn more about the principles that Bread for the World supports regarding health reform.

Field

Changing Climate, Changing Farmers

February 7, 2017

Insight

From the Blog