Lebanon + 2 more

Assessing the Impact of the Economic and COVID-19 Crises in Lebanon - June 2020

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• In Lebanon, WFP launched a random and anonymized web survey targeting the Lebanese population as well as Syrian and Palestinian refugees. This survey contributes to a first complete picture of the impacts of the economic crisis and COVID-19 on the livelihoods and food security of people in Lebanon.

• Due to a combination of containment measures for COVID-19 and a worsening economic crisis, two out of every three Lebanese households suffered from a reduced income compared to the previous year, while about 10 percent across all groups reported that their households are resorting to alternative income sources to make ends meet.

• The COVID-19 outbreak and related containment measures have pushed nearly one out of every three Lebanese into unemployment so far, while one in five respondents saw their salary being reduced.
Lebanese respondents living in Akkar were among the highest to report either losing their jobs or having a reduced income due to COVID-19. Moreover, Lebanese women as well as young adults between 25-34 years of age have been particularly affected by reduced salaries. Drastic change in employment status was significantly felt more by Syrian women than men, as 61 percent reported losing their jobs due to COVID-19 compared to 46 percent of Syrian men. The latter proportions of women and men experienced salary reduction or have already been impacted by public unrest.

• Economic sectors that have been the most impacted are construction as well as services and sales (incl. accommodation and tourism, restaurants and food services). Across all three population groups assessed, the main reason for disruption of work activities was that employers had to close businesses or were forced to reduce staff. Syrians were over proportionally affected by these layoffs.

• To bridge income gaps, two-thirds of each population group has resorted to one or more livelihood-based coping strategies in the past month, above all spending less on food was reported strategy most frequently across all three groups. Other top strategies applied included spending savings, asking for friends and family for help and borrowing money on credit to meet essential needs. A considerable percentage of respondents also reported the incapacity to cope. In fact, one in four Syrian refugees have already exhausted their coping capacity, followed by one in five Palestinians and 12 percent of Lebanese.

• Hyper price inflation impacted households’ ability to access food. For Lebanese respondents, 41 percent reported not having stockpiled food due to their inability to afford the costs and 15 percent reported not doing so as the prices are changing on a weekly basis. Findings were even more concerning for refugees, with 44 percent of Palestinian respondents and a staggering 64 percent of Syrians reporting the inability to have emergency stocks, mainly due to unaffordability.

• With food prices soaring in Lebanon, food is a major source of concern for a large proportion of respondents across all three groups. Fifty percent of Lebanese, 63 percent of Palestinians and 75 percent of Syrians felt worried they would not have enough food to eat over the past month. Those who have lost their jobs – either since or prior to the outbreak – have shown to be more distressed than others.
Lebanese residents in Akkar have reported to be more worried than those living in other governorates.

• Food consumption prior to Ramadan, indicated a situation of concern, especially for Syrian refugees with 44 percent reported eating only one meal over the previous day. One in five Lebanese and Palestinians respondents reported the same.

• To meet their food needs, Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians are applying one or more food-based coping strategies. Nearly 30 percent of Lebanese living in Akkar are applying more severe coping strategies compared to those of other governorates. Moreover, of particular concern are the Syrian refugees, with 11 percent reporting going a whole day and night without eating and 21 percent skipping meals.

• Based on an analysis of all indicators, the following groups among the Lebanese populations are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity and require special attention. Notably, households that depend on daily casual labour, on support from their friends and family or are living off debt tend to be applying more severe food-based coping strategies than others. In addition, larger families as well as those with one or more dependents and an unemployed head of household are also doing the same to a greater extent than other groups. These coping mechanisms could lead to malnutrition in the longer-term.

• Main concerns raised by all population groups revolved around the sharp deterioration of the economic situation and its associated impacts. Following the recent crises, including rising unemployment rates, the need for money to cover essential needs (incl. food, rent and medicine) have been strongly echoed by the population in Lebanon. Tensions and violence have also been reported to be on the rise, especially by the Lebanese population compared to other groups. More Lebanese women (56%) have perceived tensions than men (52%). In addition, Lebanese women are perceiving a greater increase in domestic violence compared to men, which raises important protection concerns.

• As the situation continues to be extremely dynamic in the country, on-going monitoring activities using phone surveys and other assessments are critical to help support efforts at strategic planning and targeting for adequate responses. With more information at hand on the impact of the economic and COVID-19 crises, the Government of Lebanon and humanitarian partners will be better equipped to inform their response to the unfolding crises.