Purchasing power of Daily Wages Relative to Stable Commodity Prices

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WFP monitors monthly purchasing power of daily manual labour wages relative to food commodity prices as an indirect tool for measuring household’s access to stable food items in Sierra Leone to support and contextualize its findings from nationwide food security monitoring surveys. Considering the marginally industrialized nature of national agricultural sector and its share of 57.4% on GDP, this metric allows WFP to monitor impacts of market price changes on majority of the Sierra Leonean households whose income mostly derived from daily manual labour wages.

The following three most common household staple food commodity items are selected for the calculations: locally produced rice, palm oil, cassava leaves. Meat (beef) is also added to the list to establish a common point of reference in wider regional and global analysis for comparison. In the third quarter of 2022, manual labour wage earners was able to buy 1.3 kilos of rice, 1.1 liters of palm oil, 3.4 kilos of cassava leaves and 160 grams of beef in exchange of a full days wage.

In comparison to both the previous quarter and Q3 2021 for all items, calculations again presented decreases in households’ purchasing power. Furthermore, it should be noted that as the demand for laborers is tied to agricultural production seasonality, a trend of fluctuating daily wages becomes visible between harvest and lean seasons. Although these fluctuations appear to follow an annual pattern the comparison between the averages of the first three quarters of 2021 and 2022 supports previous findings of overall decrease in purchasing power at year-on-year basis.

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