Wed Aug 27, 2014
The United Nations (UN) has warned about a food crisis that eastern Sierra Leone has been facing since the country announced a state of emergency over the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
In a report, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said on Tuesday that the virus had spread mostly among those aged 15 to 45, leading to a serious shortage in farm labor.
The FAO’s report was written after a 10-day study on the Kailahun district, where many of the Ebola deaths have taken place.
The UN group said that a government ban on fairs and other public gatherings had “prevented farmers assembling in large numbers to undertake large scale farming.”
“Hikes in prices of consumer goods have made people feed on cassava, bus yam, banana and maize, with many farmers mortgaging their plantations to make ends meet,” the FAO report said.
Sierra Leone has reported 910 cases of Ebola and 392 deaths, with almost all of the deaths being in the eastern region.
Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma announced a raft of measures as part of a state of emergency last month, including quarantining Ebola-hit eastern districts.
Ebola is a form of hemorrhagic fever whose symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding.
The virus spreads through direct contact with infected blood, feces or sweat. It can also be spread through sexual contact or the unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.
According to the latest official figures by the World Health Organization (WHO), a total of 2,615 Ebola infections and more than 1,400 deaths have been reported in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.