More people than ever rely on food assistance across Lebanon
The local currency’s sharp decline is paralyzing people’s purchasing power as the Lebanese Lira reaches a new record low each day propelling food price increases. The price of a minimum food basket – a collection of staple foods per family per month – has increased by more than 1,700 percent since October 2019.
“For many in the country today, food has become a source of worry,” says WFP Representative and Country Director in Lebanon Abdallah Alwardat. “At one of our biggest distribution points, a mother told me she could not enrol her three children at school this year for the first time ever. This is devastating.”
According to WFP’s Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis of Lebanese Residentsreport, families are finding it increasingly hard to afford nutritious food and are forced to employ harming strategies to cope such as spending less on healthcare and education or pulling children out of schools altogether. Diets have also changed remarkably with people saying they are consuming less and less dairy products, animal proteins, fruits, and vegetables. The upcoming winter season will also add to the hardships faced with an increase in fuel and electricity costs.
Families headed by women, large families with many dependents (children and/or older persons), and families that have members suffering chronic illness or disabilities are more likely to be food insecure.
Food insecurity is strongly linked to unemployment and deteriorating household incomes with the average salary in Lebanon now covering 24 percent of basic food needs, down from 93 percent last year.
“At an age when one is looking forward to retiring after a lifetime of work, I am still trying to find a source of income to feed my family,” says Hasan, a 74-year-old Lebanese father benefitting from WFP’s cash assistance.
Lebanon’s economic crisis continues to heavily impact Syrian refugees with nearly all refugees now living in extreme poverty and forced to send their children to work and sell valuable assets to survive, making them even more vulnerable to food insecurity.
Since the onset of the economic crisis in Lebanon, WFP has rapidly expanded its assistance in the country. WFP is now supporting 1 in 3 people in Lebanon through food or cash assistance each month reaching 1.7 million Lebanese and Syrian refugees. WFP is also the backbone of Lebanon’s two social safety net programs, the National Poverty Targeting Program and the Emergency Social Safety Net, which reach more than 1 million Lebanese people.
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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.
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