In the face of the “high price” of Corona: Syrians eat just for the sake of satiety!


Damascus | Just days separated two harsh waves of high prices that struck the local Syrian market. The first was due to the greater decline in the exchange rate of the lira against foreign currencies since late last year, and the second came against the backdrop of the food “hedging” phenomenon that a large number of Syrians resorted to in anticipation of any possible repercussions of the emergence of the Corona virus, as the government was forced to implement more precautionary measures. Cruelty, and usual fears of a possible food shortage.Although the phenomenon of high prices was the common denominator that brought together most of the world during the emerging epidemic crisis, in the Syrian case it was more dangerous considering the high levels of poverty recorded during the war years, as international estimates issued before the last two high waves indicate that there are about 85% of The Syrians are in poverty, while the three Food Security Surveys conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics during the past few years, all concluded that almost a third of Syrians suffer from food insecurity. This matter raises questions about the sources of income that families resorted to to secure their needs of the necessary materials and commodities, especially those imposed by preventive health measures, and the “horrific” prices registered in most markets, including the popular markets where the citizen used to find some “mercy”.

34 sources of income
Under the pressure of the large price increase, which is estimated at between 200 and 300%, most families have been forced to schedule their priorities in line with their financial capabilities in parallel with the search for new sources of income to help them meet the costs imposed by the spread of the Corona virus. In fact, the economic conditions that the country has been living in since before the emergence of the virus forced Dr. Shafiq Arbash, professor at the Faculty of Economics at Damascus University, “Many families have to adjust their budgets so that they only buy the minimum sterilization materials at the expense of some food commodities, while That there are families that did not pay attention to the subject because of the very weak purchasing power.
This can be inferred, for example, by the number of people wearing medical masks in crowded popular markets, in the preservation of many families of their consumption habits represented in securing what they need to prepare their food (day in and day out), and in the food bill that every family costs. There are families who spent generously and bought what helps them to “nightmare” sitting at home, and there are families who were forced to either spend their savings or borrow or even sell some of their remaining property to form a modest food “reserve”.
These are options that are not new to the lives of the Syrians, as they are one of the sources of income documented according to the 2009 Family Income and Expenditure Survey, which at that time identified 34 sources of Syrian family income, including 51.17% of the monthly wage and salary, so the income generated from the operations of the family establishment is 24.36%, Then pension is 4.61%. As for transfers and cash gifts received from abroad, their percentage did not exceed 3.25%, and the same applies to transfers and cash gifts received from within, which amounted to 3% at the time.
Today, the circumstances of the war have not only changed the percentage of the contribution of these sources to the income of the Syrians, but also added new sources to them, most notably in relation to in-kind relief assistance provided by the government, civil society, or international organizations, as well as the income derived from participation in illegal activities That flourished in various regions. According to the data of the Third Food Security Survey, the monthly wage has constituted 56% of the family’s sources of income, and external cash transfers have increased their rate to form about 8%, which, in the eyes of many, is higher than that if the incoming transfers to families are calculated by methods other than Legal.

Spending for a limited time only!
The heavy demand for purchasing and storing food commodities during the last period raised various questions, including those related to the credibility of the declared percentages about the spread of poverty in light of that demand, including what went towards research in the sudden purchasing power recovery, and the sources of income that were relied upon to cover that recovery .
In the absence of any statistical indicators regarding the size of what was spent during the last period and the quantity of the main commodities sold, it is not possible to say that all families were able to form a food ration sufficient for several days or weeks. There are families who have found themselves unable to provide sustenance for their day, as they were previously used to. This conclusion is supported by a statistical research that confirmed that there are families who have modified their food strategy to move from nutritional status to merely achieving fullness, with evidence that the average household spending on food did not exceed 55 thousand pounds per month according to the results of the third unpublished food security survey.

Foreign cash transfers make up about 8% of family income

Even families that, with the onset of the Corona crisis, were able to purchase some of their food necessities, would not be able to survive more if the crisis lasted longer than expected. In this regard, the head of the Syrian Commission for Family and Population Affairs, Dr. Akram Al-Qash, says that “the majority of families have had to resort to disposing of their few savings, which are savings not for hoarding.”
Other families whose sole breadwinner in this crisis was external financial transfers, which according to Dr. Arbash “constitute a major source of income after salaries and wages. Estimates say that the volume of foreign remittances is estimated at $ 5 million per day. Perhaps this is what led the government to exclude remittance companies from the recent measures and allow them to work in light of fears that the volume of remittances will drop to the limits of two million dollars a day.
Despite the talk about some families resorting to the option of selling some of their gold holdings in order to face the new financial burdens, the goldsmiths’ shops in Damascus, according to what one of the jewelers mentioned, has not recorded a clear movement in the sale of goldsmiths since they were allowed to return to work.


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