Days are longer, water is warmer, and sunshine is abundant – It’s summer in Lebanon. Yet, the winter just gone is still fresh in people’s memories. the devaluation of the currency, hyperinflation and most importantly the removal of subsidies on fuel and diesel all contributed to one of the worst winter seasons for families in Lebanon.
Before the economic crisis, North of Lebanon, specifically Akkar, was one of the most deprived regions of the country. But the latest crisis was the final blow for thousands of local families. “It was a blessing that we survived the past winter,” says Ahmad with a troubled voice. “At one point, I was burning plastic and cardboard just to keep my children warm.”
It was one of the longest and coldest seasons the family has experienced. “It (winter) was harsh. No one expected the snow would last till mid-March, with temperatures around zero degrees Celsius,” says Ahmad. “The main problem was not just the cold weather, but rather the current economic situation. After the removal of the subsidies, just four litres of diesel, which is enough to warm one room for only a few hours, was selling for100,000 Lebanese pounds (about 15% of minimum salary wages).”
Ahmad happy to pay off his debts
Under the Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP) Activation – Protracted Crisis Project, World Vision, funded by the Australian Government through the AHP, was able to support Ahmad and other families meet the increasing costs of living through the provision of Unrestricted and Unconditional Cash Assistance.
“After the past winter, I found myself in debt due to buying diesel and wood for the heater. Thanks for this support I can pay off those debts,” says Ahmad. “I am the only provider for my family. I work as a daily worker, but recently it was very difficult to find work opportunities. I am so grateful we received this help.”
The family received $US100 ($AU145) as a first payment and will receive two other payments of $US100 and $US200 ($AU290) in preparation for next winter. “I was concerned about next season, especially since it is impossible to borrow money anymore. Now, I can rest assured that my two small children won’t sleep cold next winter,” says Ahmad with a happy tone.
Abed can now afford a new heater
The family of 35-year-old Abed had to spend most of their time last winter at home under blankets. “I only used the heater in the morning before my three children go to school, and a little at night so the beds get warm. I can’t afford to keep the heater lit,” explains Abed. “Even the heater is not mine. I had to borrow it, as I couldn't buy a new one.”
Abed is a daily worker with the municipality, and his income is barely enough to put food on the table. “Since I was not always able to buy wood for the heater my children were constantly sick,” he says. “Last winter was very difficult, especially due to the economic situation. It was a horrific three months.”
Abed and his family also benefitted from cash assistance under this project to cover their winter needs. “This support couldn’t have arrived at a better time. I plan to buy my own heater for next season. Also, I want to pay off my debts to the grocery store,” says Abed. “I am relying on your support for a warmer winter next year, and hopefully my children won’t get sick,” adds the father of three.
This project aims to support 2,135 highly vulnerable families in Akkar, North of Lebanon, with Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance so they can cover winterisation supplies along with making sure their families are warm next winter.