Since the arrival of Covid-19 and the explosion of Beirut Port, Lebanon, that was already struggling to combat poverty and hunger, was heavenly hit by these events and their effects on the population and economy. Exhausted by the increase in poverty rate, Lebanon’s population struggles everyday to survive with the minimum necessary. More than 55% of the country’s population is now trapped in poverty and struggling for vital necessities, which is almost double compared to last year’s rate which was 28%.
The number of the poor Lebanese population is currently about 2.7 million. As consequent, there is a significant need in decreasing these numbers in order to allow the Lebanese population to survive and benefit of better life. Societal solidarity is needed to equal the wealth among the Lebanese population.
How to reach an end in the poverty crisis
This poverty crises requires transformation in the economic and government systems, which need to be reformed and implemented by limiting rent-seeking activities, and enhancing transparency and accountability among institutions. Lebanon should thrive on progression and shared responsibility with the political and social institutions, which are responsible of ensuring societal solidarity among the population. Politicians need to address the current situation in Lebanon, because they are the ones with the power to change it.
Half of the Lebanese population live below the average poverty line. Only 40% of the population can be considered middle-class, while the rest enters the poor parameters with 22% living in extreme poverty. The minister for social affairs, Ramzi Musharrafiye, announced that the government, together with the financial help of European countries, will start distributing food stamps to thousands of the most disadvantaged families. The rules are that each family member will have a right to a periodical bonus of 70,000 Lebanese lira, which is around 7 euros. Moreover, each family unit can receive a maximum of six stamps.
Hunger brings anger
Moreover, with a hungrier and poorer population, people are becoming angrier, and protests are tacking over Beirut city, leaving the country in a state far from peace. People are losing their jobs, with a family to feed. The poverty rate may soon reach 80 percent and that nationwide participation in protests will probably increase in the coming weeks and months as the access to basic vital goods and services decreases.
The battle against the increasing poverty begins with recovering the funds lost in corruption and with facilitating the return of refugees to Syria, who brought down the economy of Lebanon due to the overpopulation and the lack of goods to take care of everyone that came with them.
The journey to go out of the crisis will require a rescue plan, including several reforms to receive help from abroad and possibly a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. However, with so many members of the new government hand-picked by traditional political parties, meaningful change seems far out of reach. The system is responsible for the Lebanon’s poverty and economic crisis, and it should be the one working hard on facing the consequences and work for a better future for its country.