Liberia: 37 Percent Liberians Go Without Food Due to Unemployment

Traders in Monrovia's largest market district of Waterside.

-34 Countries' Afrobarometer Shows

As many as 37% of Liberians go without food because of the lack of money and unemployment, according to a new Afrobarometer survey in Monrovia.

Across 34 surveyed countries, the Afrobarometer has shown that unemployment dominates its popular survey which stands at 40%, followed by health, 27%; infrastructure, 24%; and water and sanitation, 24%.

Education, poor management of the economy and poverty/destitution are at 21% respectively and food shortage/famine is at 18%.

According to the survey, unemployment tops as the most important problem that Africans want their governments to address, followed by health, infrastructure/roads, water/sanitation, education, poverty, and management of the economy.

In the Afrobarometer survey, respondents showed low ranking in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals -- a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Respondents grade the "decent work and economic growth," as the highest-priority, at 57%.

Each of seven other SDGs captures the attention of between 20% and 31% of respondents, including SDG ("zero hunger") (31%), SDG ("good health and wellbeing") (27%); SDG ("peace, justice and strong institutions") (26%); SDG9 ("industry, innovation and infrastructure") (24%); SDG6 ("clean water and sanitation") (24%); SDG4 ("quality education") (21%); and SDG ("no poverty") (21%).

On the average, the worst area of performance for governments is in narrowing income gaps between the rich and the poor, 31 of 34 countries, including Liberia, gave their governments their lowest rankings on this issue.

This policy paper relies primarily on data from 45,823 interviews completed in 34 countries between September 2016 and September 2018.

Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues across more than 30 countries in Africa. Six rounds of surveys were conducted between 1999 and 2015, and this is the finding from Round 7 surveys (2016-2018).

National representatives did the survey with a sample of adult citizens who were randomly selected and the national sample size ranged between 1,200-2,400 adult citizens.

Meanwhile, the Afrobarometer is perhaps in conformity with the latest survey from the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-information Services (LISGIS), which said half of the country's population live in abject poverty or is extremely poor.

The survey, which was conducted in 2016 but released this year, considered Maryland County as the poorest of the 15 counties. The LISGIS report categorized poverty as absolute poverty with a percentage of 50.9 percent; food poverty at 39.1 percent, and extreme poverty at 16.5 percent respectively.

The report also indicated that 51.2 percent of Liberian households showed food shortages, with urban areas at 44 percent and rural ones at 59 percent and that females head of households faces more food shortage (54.6 percent) commonly than males head of households which are 49.9 percent.

"Under education, 64.7 percent of the country's population is literate with the urban population accumulating 78.1 percent, while rural areas have a percentage of 47.0 percent. The Literacy rate by gender shows that more males (77.0 percent) are literate as compared to females which are 54.0 percent," the report said.

As for the underage ratio, there are more young people who are literate than older ones and unemployment stands at 3.9 percent, which shows that Liberia has a low unemployment rate. "However, 79.5 percent is placed under the category of vulnerable employment, while 79.9 percent is placed under informal employment," Mr. Wreh said.

The report further said private sector remains the highest employer in which 64.9 percent Liberians have benefited, while the government employs 19.5 percent of the country's estimated 4.5 million population, and other employers (not specified) picked 15.6 percent respectively.

It indicated that 63.2 percent of the country's 4.5 million people visit government-run health facilities, while 23.6 percent goes to private hospitals and clinics.

"The average household size is estimated to be 4.3 people per household, with Maryland County having the highest household size, while Gbarpolu County holds the lowest.

"Also, 44.5 percent of the country's population is under the age of 15, which makes the age dependency ratio as high as 89.9 percent nationally, but 51.1 percent of the 4.5 million people are females and 48.9 percent are males," the survey added.


Leroy M. Sonpon, III

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