Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the West African coast that is home to roughly 4.5 million people. Due to a recent civil war and outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, the country has become vulnerable to poverty and hunger. Here are 10 facts about hunger in Liberia:
- Poverty in Liberia is high, and approximately 83.3 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day.
- High levels of poverty often lead to hunger. Around 16 percent of households in Liberia are food-insecure and two percent are severely food-insecure.
- Food makes up a large portion of Liberian families’ expenses, with one-fourth of Liberian families spending more than 65 percent of their income on food. Some people are forced to resort to emergency coping strategies, such as begging, in order to feed their family.
- Liberia is classified as a low-income, least developed and food-deficit country. It ranks as number 177 out of 188 countries in the 2015 Human Development Index.
- Liberia is in the process of recovering from a 14-year civil war that destroyed social services and infrastructure critical to combating poverty and hunger in Liberia.
- An Ebola virus outbreak in March 2014 also had a detrimental impact on Liberia’s economy. Economic growth fell from an estimated 5.9 percent to between 0.7 and 0.9 percent in 2014.
- Refugees living in Liberia are even more vulnerable to hunger. The country has hosted approximately 39,000 refugees since December 2015, primarily people from Cote d’Ivoire. Those who live in camps are especially at risk for hunger.
- Livestock farming in Liberia is unable to meet the population’s demand. As a result, 80 percent of the country relies on fish as a protein source. However, climate change has led to flooding and rising sea levels that threaten Liberians’ ability to fish.
- Insufficient access to education contributes to poverty and hunger in Liberia. Only 26.7 percent of children are enrolled in school.
- Girls in Liberia are especially likely to be taken out of school early, either to help with work at home or as a way to save money. The World Food Programme offers take-home rations to girls as an incentive for families to keep them in school.
While the people of Liberia continue to face obstacles as they rebuild their country’s economy, continued international support and investment in education and infrastructure could help stabilize the country and reduce hunger.
– Alexi Worley