In just a year, the price of food here has soared by up to 350%, according to AUB’s Crisis Observatory group, a team put together to track the repercussions of Lebanon’s financial crisis.
The price rise, observers say, appears relentless.
The Crisis Observatory also reports that within the first week of Ramadan this year alone, the cost of a five-person household’s typical Iftar — dates, lentil soup, fattoush salad, rice with chicken and yoghurt — increased by 23.4%.
“Some days, the neighbors can’t donate much of their food, and we have to make do with just French fries for Iftar,” Khadija said. “Al-Hamdullilah (thank God). We continue to say al-Hamdullilah.”
‘We eat and drink from the garbage’
Khadija considers herself lucky. Others in Lebanon have to make do without the safety nets her family relies on. One of those is Ahmad, a Syrian refugee who has been selling scrap from trash cans since his father died five years ago.
His back slightly hunched and his face largely hidden under a Dallas Cowboys cap, Ahmad has been parsing through garbage since dawn. Flanked by two younger cousins, he treks across the city hauling a large bag of collected trash.
Prior to Lebanon’s financial crisis, he would sell the recyclable materials for the equivalent of around $30 a day. It was enough to pay the rent on his tiny apartment in a southern Beirut slum, and to buy groceries for his wife, mother and two children. But now his income barely covers his rent. For sustenance, he must do what he had long feared — feed his children from the city’s dumpsters.