The first sign that things had changed for Sierra Leone and Liberia came as we stood at the gate waiting to board the Brussels Airlines flight to Freetown, Sierra Leone via Monrovia, Liberia. A 300 plus seat aircraft, and only 52 passengers waiting to board. On board a handful of returning locals and a small group of international medical and NGO workers.
On the ground at Lungi airport, things got even quieter. Ground crew, luggage porters, SIM card salesmen and stall owners in and around the airport were all bemoaning the lack of visitors: only 4 flights a week now, limited tips to go around, business slow and, as a result, families not getting fed.
And where there is business going on the prices are rising - in the areas were the virus has taken hold, like Kenema and Kaliahun, the price of rice is up 15% in the last month. Salt up as much as 200%. The groundnut harvest is looking good this season, but if the rice harvest falters in the fall, there could be problems...
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