As Lebanon crisis spirals, families barter for food on Facebook – Middle East Monitor

One Lebanese woman asked for sugar, milk, and soap in trade for a child’s dress. Another wanted canned goods in return for gym equipment.

A 65-year-old seamstress now exchanges her sewing services for food, because her customers can no longer afford to pay her.

Bartering on Facebook is just about the last resort for some people in Lebanon, the place where a financial melt down has sent prices skyrocketing this year.

It’s a good thing for people who are in need and unable to buy…You can’t keep asking for help,

said Siham, a 27-year-old mother who had been offering a machine that cleans her son’s nursing bottles in exchange for food.

More and more Lebanese have had to show to charities or private initiatives to survive because the country faces a crisis on an unprecedented scale.

The collapse of the currency, which wiped out not quite 80% of its value, has pushed many families into poverty and the heavily indebted state offers little help.

Hassan Hasna’s Facebook group “Lebanon barters” has gained a lot more than 16,000 members in about a month, with people relying on it to secure food or medicine they can no more afford.

“A group of my friends and I were able to help some families around Christmas time but now we can’t even get enough supplies to donate,” he said.

Lebanon depends heavily on imported goods for which prices have soared. The government in addition has hiked the price tag on subsidised bread, sparking protests this month.

WATCH: Lebanese face food crisis because of economic collapse

A World Food Programme report in June found that 50% of Lebanese feared they’d not have enough to eat.

Hasna gets over 200 requests a day.

“Some people perceive bartering as a terrible thing, using it to explain how desperate we are. But I don’t see it that way,” he said.

“Times are difficult but we won’t go begging for aid. They’re doing the impossible to survive, and live with dignity.”