Food Coalition

Revised humanitarian response - Lebanon

The Beirut Port explosion on 4 August exacerbated the already dire humanitarian and food security situation in Lebanon.

Even prior to this, Lebanon was reeling from multiple crises since 2011 (World Bank, August 2020) including:

1. spillovers from the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic, which resulted in Lebanon hosting the largest refugee population per capita in the world;

2. a financial and economic crisis that has induced systemic macro-financial failures, including impairment of the banking sector and loss of deposits, an exchange rate collapse, a default on sovereign debt, triple-digit inflation rates, and a severe economic contraction; and

3. impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, including necessary lockdowns that further exacerbated economic and financial stresses.

The combined impact on people’s livelihoods has been devastating, particularly for the most vulnerable Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians, such as youth, day labourers, female-headed households, the elderly and people with specific needs.

Most organizations suspended their field interventions for almost three months during the COVID-19 lockdown and farmers were not able to sell their produce due to mobility restrictions. The blast could further limit their ability to sell or export produce to their overseas markets.

Other major challenges facing the agriculture sector include the destruction of the plant and animal quarantine offices in Beirut port, including their equipment and wheat laboratory responsible for inspecting the quality of imported wheat.

The explosion also likely devastated the small‑scale fishing industry through the death of massive amounts of fish in a large radius from the epicentre of the blast, with fears of widespread chemical pollution in the nearby seawaters.

An assessment by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in June 2020 estimated that the cost of agricultural production increased by more than 50 percent for various agricultural systems. The cost of basic agriculture inputs rose by 400 percent.

Beyond the immediate response, efforts are needed to meet the food needs of the most vulnerable people whose livelihoods have been affected by the multiple shocks.

Given the restrictions on foreign currency transactions in place since October 2019, agribusinesses and importers have had their credit facilities closed, restricting their ability to conduct business, and resulting in potential shortages in imported agriculture inputs and animal feed. New imports must be funded with US Dollars obtained after November 2019, and require advanced payment to foreign suppliers.

Priority Areas of work: Global Humanitarian Response Plan
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 5. Gender Equality, 16. Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Level: Country
Country: Lebanon
Budget: USD 38.7 million

Action Sheet:

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