In light of the economic meltdown with the wave of COVID-19 crisis, UMR has gathered its team to ensure food security to Lebanon’s most vulnerable communities. UMR is distributing bread and potatoes to more than 50,000 families in Tripoli and Saida areas.
The population of Lebanon is estimated at 6.83 million in 2020. Lebanon has taken in 1.5 million Syrian and Palestinian refugees since 2011. Refugees make up 30% of the country’s population, the highest concentration per capita of refugees in the world. There is an increase in the number of Lebanese and refugees living below the poverty line in Lebanon.
Countrywide anti-establishment protests in October 2019 have sent Lebanon’s economy in free fall and are hitting vulnerable Lebanese and refugees hard, with thousands railing against government corruption and economic mismanagement and deterioration, resulting in purchasing power being dropped and poverty increase. The crisis deepens into another crisis – the Coronavirus pandemic- Since Lebanon was placed on lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, cash-strapped banks have cut access to dollars for depositors already separated from much of their savings by months of tightening controls. Dollar shortages have for months drained it of critical supplies and the cases toll still increases on daily basis. Affects are on monthly payments of rent, food insecurity, health and other necessities.
Families can’t afford their acute need for healthy food, medicines, and cash assistance to get them through this month with Coronavirus spreading alongside the ignited economic downfall that re-erupted in May 2020. Prices skyrocketed from 60%- 300% in Lebanon, with the dollar value reaching 4000 LBP in the black market which resulted in hindering people’s access to food; Bread and Potatoes in particular; for both the producer and the consumer. 49% of Lebanese are worried about access to food, and about 60 % of the population relies directly or indirectly on agricultural activities. Poverty levels spiked across Lebanon. Some analysts are warning that violent demonstrations are likely to grow as living standards plummet and in an acute need of some form of humanitarian assistance.
In response to the issue of food insecurity, UMR will fund two important initiatives to ensure access to basic food and protect vulnerable communities; one is “Salt and Bread” campaign, carried out by community-based initiative, in collaboration with Akkarouna foundation and Heads of Municipalities. They have partnered together to raise fund for the idea of “Akkar Emergency Room”; which aims to produce bread in a small bakery by the community and distribute to 2000 families per day. So far, it has contributed in its first phase to distribute 74900 bread packs to 37450 families in all Tripoli and Saida areas. The second initiative is the Potato campaign; which aims to promote the production of potato farmers and distributing potato packs to families. 5 kilos per family to 35,000 families in Tripoli and Saida areas. 50% Lebanese and 50% Palestinians. These initiatives were inspired by UMR’s essence of giving to the underserved communities to elevate peoples’ spirits during these hard times, which is all about sharing our goodness with each other.