In mid-November, Liberia's president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, lifted the country's state of emergency imposed to control the Ebola outbreak that had devasted the country. In the months since, the Liberian government, multilaterals, and aid groups have channeled resources into direct response efforts. Now, the situation is largely under control and treatment centers are equipped with more than two beds per person suspected, reported, and confirmed to have Ebola. As the health threat diminishes, the hardest hit countries in West Africa look to rebuild.
Although BRAC's hatchery and feed mill is still operational, the disruption in the country's food supply chain has been catastrophic. Poultry farmers who survived Ebola returned to their coops to find missing, stolen, dead, or starving chickens. Feed prices have shot through the roof and with more than half of the country living on a dollar or less per day farmers face the harrowing decision of whether to feed their chickens to help their business or feed themselves. Stigmatization of survivors has also compromised their ability to sell and many are struggling to keep themselves afloat.
Before the outbreak, BRAC farmers had 10,000 chickens. Now, there are only 6,000. Due of travel bans at the border, feed supplies have dried up. Chickens are producing one forth the eggs they should because they're malnourished.
One of BRAC's poultry rearers, Miatta Kromah has been a BRAC microfinance client since the organization opened it's Liberian country office. Her daughter, Tina, is the president of their village group and together, they host microfinance meetings in their yard in Kakata. In August, before Ebola warnings had seeped into public consciousness, Miatta's son-in-law came home sick and was misdiagnosed as having typhoid fever. He passed it on to his wife and they both died three days after showing initial symptoms of Ebola. Soon after, Miatta's husband fell sick and died before the family could take him to the closest ETU. When Tina, her sister, and Miatta's four-year-old grandson got sick, the family took a cab to an MSF clinic. Tina survived, the others did not. Miatta also went to the clinic when she got sick. She and her daughter are now the care-takers of six children orphaned by the disease.
The family is recovering together. Aissatou Diallo from BRAC USA. recently visited and watched the children play together in the yard. "If they do not tell you, you could not guess at the level of grief and loss they are dealing with," she said.
Thank you for supporting this program at a time when the country and its people need it the most.
This photo of Ruth Grey was taken in April at a feed mill in Buchanon where workers sort out rocks from the maize before it's ground into chicken feed. Although Ebola has been catastrophic in Liberia, as of this report the mill was found in good condition. Read more below about how BRAC's projects are adapting.
The Ebola outbreak in Liberia has been catastrophic, putting a severe strain on an already over-burdened and under-resourced national health care system. BRAC staff were some of the first responders, distributing disinfectant, and chlorine as well as providing educational materials such as flyers, posters, and broadcasting radio jingles about preventative practices. Global Giving donors were instrumental in supporting these efforts. To find out more about how we are combating Ebola, see the links below.
Due to travel bans and restrictions on public gatherings, BRAC was forced to temporarily halt its programming, including hatchery operations, in August. Our offices reopened in September and programs are being modified and adjusting to new government restrictions. Luckily, BRAC offices, residences, poultry and seed farms have been found in good condition, although marketplaces are not yet operating as usual.
Travel bans, disruptions in trade and closed markets have led to severe food shortages across West Africa, but particularly in Liberia where rice production decreased by 10 percent this year. BRAC is working with local partners to distribute supplies and mobilize its existing resources to reach communities in need. Knowing that ending the current crisis will take significant resources and a coordinated response, BRAC has partnered with other organizations in the Ebola Survival Fund. See the links below for more information.
BRAC asks that you send your thoughts out to the families of farmers, microfinance officers, community health promoters, mentors, staff, and volunteers who have lost their lives to this deadly disease.
Introductory funding from other partners has enabled our team in Liberia to begin the feed mill operations! As mentioned in the last report, construction activites on the feed mill, poultry sheds, and office were completed in February 2014 in accordance with the project plan. We have also received the first shipment of chicks.
Now your help is needed to recruit and train agriculture and livestock workers at every level of the value chain. Our goal is that these BRAC-trained extension agents will bring best practices to their communities while making high-quality, low cost agricultural and veterinary inputs available. This program creates livelihood opportunities at every level while working towards food security and increased nutrition.
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Under the existing agriculture and livestock program in Libera, BRAC is already training rural, landless women in backyward poultry rearing as well as recruited and trained Community Agriculture Promoters. In this setting, BRAC has established the hatchery and feed mill in Nekreen township near Buchanan in Grand Bassa County. Production of local chicks will provide a cost effective alternative to expensive and unreliably-imported chicks, which suffer a 25-30% mortality rates due to bad roads and adverse conditions during transportation.
Thanks to our partners, BRAC began contructing the hatchery and feed mill infrastructure, including: a feed mill, two poultry sheds an office-cum-residence for hatchery and feed mill staff; a second staff residence; and a generator house. Construction activities were completed in February 2014 in accordance to the project work plan. The parent stock of day old chicks is was imported in March 2014.
The BRAC Liberia team is eager to continue recruiting community farmers to become General Poultry and Livestock Rearers.
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