The plight of former bush meat sellers in the country may have been overlooked as Liberians weaned themselves off the delectable dried monkey, deer and other bush meat now known to be carriers of the deadly Ebola virus disease. These sellers have lost a lucrative niche of the food market along with the income it provided to them and their families.
It begs the questions of whether bush meat will ever return to the diets of the populations of the Ebola effected West African countries and whether these sellers of this now banned ingredient will be back in their line of business.
The Government of Liberia banned the sale of dried meat in the country following the Ebola outbreak last year. It took some time and effort to enforce the ban through a strong awareness campaign to sensitize the public as well as law enforcement action.
Coming to aid of these particular Ebola effected business people, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is providing cash transfer assistance to more than 70 former dried meat sellers in Monrovia.
A cash transfer assistance of US$100 was recently provided to each former bush meat seller to empower this specific sector of market women who once profitably sold dry meat prior to the Ebola outbreak in the country.
The payment was the second in a series of cash transfer payments to these market women to help them settle debts and other fees they may have incurred following the ban on the commodity they once sold.
According to Musu Kannah, 44, a bush meat seller, “I started selling dry meat since 1992 and dry meat is the only business I understand well.”
Musu disclosed that her husband is a former police officer who is unemployed and she remains the only breadwinner for a family of 15.
“Since the government told us to stop selling dry meat, things have not been easy with me and my family. My husband was downsized from the police since this government came to power and I have been the only one feeding the family through this dry meat business,” she said.
Kpannah Sharpe, 45, is a widow with eight (8) children. She said she has been providing for her family through the sale of dry meat for more than two years now.
Kpannah said she had already purchased over LD$25,000 worth of meat before the ban was imposed on the commodity.
She disclosed that following the ban she became involved in the cold water business in order to settle some of the huge debts she has incurred.