Syria

Northeast Syria Market Monitoring Exercise, Snapshot: 1-8 February 2021

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INTRODUCTION

To inform humanitarian cash programming, REACH in partnership with the northeast (NES) and northwest (NWS) Syria Cash Working Group (CWG) conducts monthly Market Monitoring Exercises in northern Syria to assess the availability and prices of 36 basic commodities that are typically sold in markets and consumed by average Syrian households, including food and non-food items, water, fuel, and cellphone data.

Of these, 18 items comprise the Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket (SMEB; see below), which represents the minimum, culturally adjusted items required to support a 6-person household for a month.

Data collection took place between 1-8th February 2021 and was conducted by REACH, CARE, Global Communities, Danish Church Aid, Mercy Corps, People In Need, and Solidarités International.

The accompanying data is disseminated monthly and is distributed through partners across the humanitarian community. See REACH Resource Centre for the February 2021 data.

KEY DEVELOPMENTS

Coverage and data collection dates

In February 2021, REACH and partners covered 27 sub-districts in northeast Syria (NES) for the Market Monitoring exercise, including 1,813 individual shops. Please note that prices should be seen as representative only of the markets and dates where and when information was collected (1-8th February).

Highest northeast SMEB cost in SYP recorded

In February, the value of the regional SMEB reached 282,526 Syrian pounds (SYP), a 5% increase compared to January and 47% increase since August 2020, setting the highest ever recorded price in the Market Monitoring exercise in NES. The SMEB in United States Dollars (USD) decreased slightly from 95 USD in January to 94 USD in February.

Slight depreciation of the SYP against the USD

Between January and February, the informal USD/SYP regional median exchange rate increased by 6%, reaching a regional median of 3,035 USD/SYP. The highest exchange rate was recorded at 3,300 SYP for 1 USD in Hdadiyeh, in Al-Hasakeh governorate.

Prices increased for manually refined transport fuels; high quality fuels remained unavailable

Regional median prices for manually refined fuels increased again in NES in February. Prices for manually refined transport fuels also increased by 8% between January and February; 52% since August. Manually refined diesel increased by 17% and manually refined petrol remained stable (0% change since January). According to REACH field teams, in addition to the impacts of SYP depreciation, these price increases likely resulted from increased demand. As in previous months, high quality transport fuels were reportedly widely unavailable in assessed markets due to increased demand and fuel smuggling between NES and Government of Syria-held areas, as well as northwest Syria. 85% of fuel vendors reported that high quality diesel was not available in their market while 74% reported the same regarding high quality petrol. The price of high-quality petrol decreased by 4% since January but this is a negligible decrease in comparison to the 143% price increase since August 2020. The price of manually refined kerosene, primarily used for cooking and heating, decreased by 13% since January 2021. Nevertheless, manually refined kerosene shows a 40% six-month price increase since August 2020.

Food item prices increased, although bread prices continued to fall

The value of the regional SMEB food component further increased by 5% between January and February, reaching a record high median value of 220,600 SYP. The price of the SMEB vegetable component increased by 6% since January. The evolutions of prices for all monitored vegetables varied, with tomato prices decreasing most significantly by 6%, while cucumbers increased by 17% and onions increased by 14%. Potatoes remained at the same price as in January. According to REACH field teams, these price developments are likely due to the more expensive reliance on the import of fresh foods from Government of Syria-held areas, affected by high transportation costs and increasing dollar exchange rates. Additionally, the cost of chicken meat also increased by 12% in February, primarily as a result of the high costs of animal food, which is also impacted by the depreciation of SYP. However, the cost of eggs remained stable since January. Overall prices for bulk foods also increased in February by 8%, with some items such as bulgur, red lentils, tomato paste and salt all increasing by 11% since January, and rice and sugar increasing by 6% in the same time period. Whilst bulk food item prices have remained relatively stable with only minor increases due to increased local production, there has been a 39% six month increase since August 2020. This is also attributed to the SYP depreciation and increasing fuel prices for transport, as much of the bulk food in the region remains imported. The price of bread decreased by 18% between January and February, a 38% decrease since August 2020. According to REACH field teams, the decreasing prices resulted from subsidies for bakeries put in place by local authorities. However, flour prices increased by 25% between January and February, contributing to a 67% increase in the same six-month period.

Water trucking prices dropped slightly, hygiene item prices slightly increased

Following an increase of the SMEB water trucking cost in January, the median regional cost decreased in February by 6%, dropping slightly to 13,500 SYP. According to REACH field teams, the price decrease was attributed to the recent resumption of reliable supply from Allouk water station. However, this decrease is negligible relative to the 114% price increase since August 2020. Additionally, the cost of the SMEB hygiene component increased by 13% in February, reaching a median of 24,092 SYP. Specifically, the cost of toothpaste and bars of soap saw the largest increases, by 22% and 20% respectively. The depreciating value of the SYP as well as higher demand likely account for these increases, according to REACH field teams. The median prices for many COVID-19 related items saw varied price fluctuations. Hand sanitizer - which is more frequently locally produced - decreased by 5% in price, whereas facemasks - also frequently locally produced - increased by 14%. The latter may be due to the increased consumption by, and demand from, humanitarian organisations. The median prices of plastic gloves (+1%), bleach (0%) and sterile alcohol (0%) all remained stable.