Governments and humanitarian actors need estimates of how many people are food insecure due to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
We estimate that almost 1.7 million people are currently food insecure — 200,000 are food insecure because of Ebola.
Low Estimate for March 2015: If the disease continues to spread at the average rate observed in the previous 42 days and then begins to slow down by January 2015, as predicted by health experts, the number of food insecure will likely reach 2.3 million. The Ebola effect accounts for 750,000 people.
High Estimate for March 2015: If the disease spreads at the maximum rate observed in the previous 42 days and then begins to slow down by January 2015, the number of food insecure will likely reach 3.0 million. In this scenario, the Ebola effect accounts for 1.4 million people.
This analysis shows that the disease will impact urban areas more than rural areas in all three countries. Provinces that were relatively food secure before this crisis are among the worst affected.
The cost of inaction is extremely high. Even if the disease slows down as of January, the number of people rendered food insecure by Ebola is substantial. A two-pronged approach is therefore necessary: most importantly, the disease must be contained; at the same time, appropriate assistance must be provided for all those whose lives and livelihoods are being directly or indirectly affected by this unprecedented crisis.