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Inflation rises and poverty increases: life in Lebanon

Inflation is pushing people deeper into poverty. And it’s the poorest families who are the hardest hit.

Farah Bou Kheir | 25 Feb 2022

Credit: Ruth Towell/Tearfund

Many of the countries that Tearfund is working in around the world are seeing devastating rises in inflation. It is pushing people further into poverty. Families can no longer afford the essentials they need to survive. Lebanon has been struck particularly hard by this; our team shares more about what is happening in the country, and how our prayers can make a difference.

Lebanon is currently facing hyperinflation – where the prices of goods and services are rising rapidly and excessively.

The government has issued a new list of prices for legal services and imported goods – but this is far more than what the average person can afford.

On top of this, the currency has also been significantly affected. The majority of people in the country continue to be paid in Lebanese pounds, but this is only now worth a thirteenth of what it was previously. In the last two years, the Lebanese pound lost around 90 per cent of its value – propelling three quarters of the population into poverty.

‘We don’t have much hope for the future now. We are living day by day because there’s something new every day.’
Cheikha, Lebanon

Leaving the country

‘The significantly reduced power of the Lebanese pound has led to increased debt, more businesses going bankrupt and mass unemployment,’ shares Claire Tiffen, who leads Tearfund’s work in Lebanon. ‘It’s led to more and more people choosing to leave the country.’

The effects of the mass exodus of skilled workers can most clearly be seen in the healthcare sector, with the absence of doctors and nurses, leading to longer waiting times and a shortage of services.

But there are many people who cannot afford to leave the country, and who are facing increased hardship.

Left behind

Cheikha* has four grown-up sons, but none of them can find work. She’s struggling to buy the essentials, but has no one to reach out to for support – all of her family are facing similar financial struggles.

‘I can’t tell him [my son] that I want money to buy bread. Where are they going to get me money from?’ she shares with us.

Tearfund’s local partners were able to help Cheikha out with food vouchers and hygiene items, as well as blankets and warm clothes for the winter months.

‘I couldn’t believe it. I kept asking myself, “are there really people like this in the world?” They never asked for anything in return, and I have never met people like them,’ says Cheikha.

But with the ongoing crises in the country, it can be difficult to look ahead.

‘We don’t have much hope for the future now. We are living day by day because there’s something new every day,’ shares Cheikha. ‘Some people are making it easier for us but… I pray that God makes a way.’

Top: Tearfund’s local partner meets Cheikha and takes her through the support they are able to offer her | Credit: Tearfund partner Bottom: Cheikha and her family were given the help they needed to support them through a difficult time. This included food vouchers and hygiene items | Credit: Tearfund partner

Struggling to see a hopeful future

Tearfund’s local partners continue to help people with the essentials, like food and cash assistance. But they are now also focusing on providing mental health and trauma support to communities across Lebanon’s capital city, Beirut.

‘This kind of support is particularly important as there is increased polarisation and tensions among community members over reduced resources in the country,’ shares Claire.

‘Violence is on the rise in some places and there is a lot of growing anger within communities, directed at the government over its handling of recent crises.

‘Many of the people we are serving have symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder from the Beirut port explosion that happened last year. This event retraumatised many of the Syrian refugees and Lebanese people. The economic situation has impacted many of the individuals that Tearfund is also supporting as they struggle to see a hopeful future.

‘We thank you for continuing to pray for Lebanon through these challenging times. It really strengthens our team, and partners who are working under great pressure.’

Pray with us

Creator God who is in control of all things,
Please have your hand on Lebanon right now. Guide its incredible people through these crises, we pray.

Bring wisdom to Lebanon’s rulers; counsel its government in how they can steward Lebanon’s resources well and bring about policy changes that will help those living in poverty.

Bring provision to those without; we pray for those who cannot afford to heat their homes or buy food for their families. Lord, increase opportunities for work in the country; we pray for peaceful economic change that will stop further businesses from going under, alleviate pressure on health services and for new sustainable businesses to be created.

Bring your peace to people who are hurting. Heal divides between communities. We pray for your justice over the Beirut blast. Lord, give people hope in the future – of all that can be made possible through you.

Creator God who is in control of all things,
Please have your hand on all the countries facing inflation rises right now. Guide its people through these crises, we pray.

Amen.

*Name changed to protect identity

  Farah Bou Kheir

Farah is part of our team in Lebanon

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