There is unequivocal evidence in the literature that epidemics adversely affect the livelihoods of individuals, households and communities. However, evidence in the literature is dominated by the socioeconomic impacts of HIV/AIDS and malaria, while evidence on the impact of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) on households' livelihoods remains fragmented and scant. Our study investigates the effect of the EVD epidemic on the livelihoods of Liberian households using the Sustainable Livelihood Framework (SLF). The study also explores the effect of the EVD epidemic on agricultural production and productive efficiency of farm households using Spatial Stochastic Frontier Analysis (SSFA). We collected data from 623 households across Liberia in 2015, using a systematic random sampling design. Our results indicated that the annual income of sample households from communities where EVD occurred did not differ from the annual income of households from communities where EVD did not occur. Nonetheless, the majority of sample households reported a decrease in their income, compared to their income in the year before the survey. This suggests that the impact of the EVD epidemic might not only have been limited to communities directly affected by the epidemic, but also it may have indirectly affected communities in areas where EVD was not reported. We also found that the community-level incidence of EVD negatively affected crop production of farm households, which may have exacerbated the problem of food insecurity throughout the country. Moreover, we found that the EVD epidemic weakened the society's trust in Liberian institutions. In a nutshell, our results highlight that epidemics, such as the recent EVD outbreak, may have long-lasting negative effects on the livelihoods of a society and their effect may extend beyond the communities directly affected by the epidemics. This means that the nation's recovery from the impact of the epidemic would be more challenging, and the social and economic impacts of the epidemic may extend well beyond the end of the health crisis.
Gatiso, T. T., Ordaz-Németh, I., Grimes, T., Lormie, M., Tweh, C., Kühl, H. S., & Junker, J. (2018). The impact of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic on agricultural production and livelihoods in Liberia. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 12(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0006580