Inflation and a lack of jobs have hit us hard but everyone in my family is able to eat and benefit from this card
Mayyada is a widowed mother of 6, including a chronically sick child. Making sure her kids have food on the table is a priority for her “I can’t face sending my children to sleep without a meal” she says.
Lebanon has been facing a major socio-economic crisis for the past year. The COVID-19 outbreak add to a dire situation and is pushing an increasing number of families into poverty. Covering basic needs such as food was already a challenge before this outbreak, because of the economic recession and the hyperinflation that caused large-scale job losses and pay cuts.
Through the Trust Fund, the EU is working in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Lebanese Ministry of foreign affairs to support vulnerable households in Lebanon, affected by the multiple crises confronting the country.
Mayyada benefits from a monthly e-card that helps her provide food to her family “We buy oil, burghul, lentils, rice, tea and as we prepare the meal we try to make it last for two days,” she says. “Inflation and a lack of jobs have hit us hard but everyone in my family is able to eat and benefit from this card”.
Khaled is a father of 9 living in the Beqaa region and like Mayyada he benefits from the cash assistance programme. He explains how having the e-card removes the temptation of breaching lockdown restrictions to search for work. “I only left the house once or twice a month to go to the shop and buy food,” he says. “I didn’t have to go out every day and risk catching the virus or breaking the measures in order to find a job to feed my family.”
In September 2020, a new EU-WFP agreement was signed, making the EU the biggest contributor to social assistance in Lebanon. This timely assistance package - in light of the explosion that rocked the Lebanese Capital in August 2020, and the surge in COVID-19 cases - will support around 500,000 vulnerable Lebanese and refugees from Syria meet their basic needs, jointly with other donors.
Khalil is also a father of 9, who was recently in a car accident that prevents him from seeking work to support his family. “For the longest time, I used to ask friends and other family members for support to by food. This is every father’s nightmare’ he explains. The assistance he receives came just in time and thanks to the e-card he can now make sure that his children are fed every day and he even afford to buy them sweets sometimes “With this assistance, we also try to save food for the winter by preparing the mouneh (pantry stocks). I sometimes also buy some biscuits for my children. These are difficult times, but children are children. I thank God for this card because I don’t have to worry about struggling for a meal or even biscuits for them.”
Beyond the emergency response, the project also aims to strengthen the national social assistance system. A significant amount is allocated to build its capacity, effectiveness and accountability; and to scale up the National Poverty Targeting Programme food e-card that provide monthly assistance, for up to six people per family.