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Rural access to income is restricted during the agricultural lean season

  • Key Message Update
  • Lebanon
  • April 2024
Rural access to income is restricted during the agricultural lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Over six months of cross-border fighting between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Hezbollah have displaced just over 93,000 people in southern Lebanon, most notably from the conflict epicenters of Bint Jbeil, Marjayoun, and Tyre districts. Nearly 350 people have died, including 75 civilian deaths, with around 1,360 people injured, according to the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health. According to IOM, 84 percent of IDPs from the South are currently living with host families, mostly in the Tyre, Nabatieh, and Saida districts. In April, Israeli airstrikes reached areas far beyond Lebanon's southern border, including West Beqaa and Jbeil in Mount Lebanon, with the most intense bombardments concentrated within Bint Jbeil and Marjayoun districts, damaging civilian property, crops, and homes, particularly in the villages of Kfar Kila, Ayta El Chaeb. Overall, the ongoing cross-border fighting continues to disrupt local livelihoods rooted in agriculture while subsequently restricting access to primary income and food sources for many residents, displaced households, and refugees throughout southern Lebanon.
    • In March, WFP provided humanitarian assistance to around 900,000 Syrian refugees and over 600,000 Lebanese nationals to meet their essential food and other basic needs. However, as part of WFP's country-wide retargeting exercise, half of previously assisted Lebanese households have reportedly been excluded from in-kind food assistance since January, and because of funding constraints cash transfers to 800,000-900,000 Syrian refugees have been reduced by 30 percent. Still, the extent of the cuts is unclear, as WFP has reported reaching 600,000-700,000 Lebanese beneficiary households with in-kind assistance before and after the stated cuts. Additionally, there has been a 44 percent reduction in cash assistance to around 75,000 families in the Lebanese National Poverty Targeting Program since February. Meanwhile, 18,600 vulnerable Lebanese households registered in the Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA) social safety net databases no longer have access to social protection coverage. The decline in humanitarian assistance is likely impacting poor rural households' food access and purchasing capacity, as many households have limited access to income from crop sales or agricultural labor wages during the peak of the lean season for cereal production in northern and southern Lebanon.
    • In April, household purchasing capacity has likely declined due to contractions in the informal labor market for casual labor opportunities. Limited production capacity in local economies across Lebanon due to the country's debilitating economic crisis, and record-low activity in the tourism industry driven by the ongoing conflict have lessened demand for informal casual labor in the construction, hospitality, and mining sectors. Across the rural North and South, middle-income and better-off households had reduced the area of cultivated land during the last planting season due to limited access to fertilizers and pesticides, while poor agricultural households continue to grapple with scarce casual labor opportunities restricting their access to primary and secondary income, especially during the ongoing lean season. 
    • Livestock producers across rural Lebanon continue to face difficulties accessing feed and veterinary services; however, improved pasture conditions due to above-average cumulative precipitation have likely sustained relatively good livestock body conditions through April. In April, access to income from livestock sales has been seasonally low, as is typical in the period preceding the Eid al-Adha holidays. However, some poor pastoralist households have likely resorted to selling their sheep and goats at seasonally low prices to avoid food consumption gaps.
    • Following years of enduring economic crisis, poor households' access to income and purchasing capacity for food across Lebanon have severely eroded over time. More recently, key informants report that many unemployed poor and very poor urban households are exhausting their livelihood coping strategies and have likely been resorting to more extreme coping strategies to meet their food needs, such as begging or collecting leftover food from restaurants or local fruit and vegetable markets in the absence of humanitarian food assistance. In April, more urban households in Beirut, Baabda, Mount Lebanon, and major towns in the North and South are likely resorting to consumption-based coping strategies such as skipping meals to feed children or reducing meal portion sizes due to low purchasing capacity. These households are expected to be among the worst affected by the cuts to in-kind food and cash assistance since January 2024. 
    • Public service delivery in Lebanon, particularly energy, education, water, and healthcare, has been on the brink of collapse due to concurrent crises since 2019 and has only worsened in recent years. However, humanitarian actors continue to provide essential services to vulnerable Lebanese and refugee communities. In the South, over 10,000 women and 33,000 adolescent girls and children under five live in areas where healthcare centers have either closed or provide only limited essential early child development and nutritional services. Among the conflict-affected population are 4,000 children in urgent need of services such as immunizations, critical medications, maternal healthcare, and pre and postnatal care. Overall, poor households unable to access basic health programs or who are receiving reduced humanitarian assistance due to funding cuts are increasingly vulnerable to worsening food insecurity.
    • Overall, population groups of concern include the remaining civilian population of at least 60,000 individuals in towns and villages along the frontlines of the conflict, as well as displaced households in the South with limited access to typical sources of food or income. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to remain present in at least some areas of the North due to limited access to income for food purchases and increasing engagement in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes, particularly in Akkar and Beqaa where refugees comprise a large share of the population. There is also additional concern that Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are also likely emerging in some areas of Mount Lebanon and some areas of the South, as many Lebanese and refugee households have limited access to income and food due to the ongoing conflict, poor macroeconomic conditions, and limited humanitarian assistance.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Lebanon Key Message Update April 2024: Rural access to income is restricted during the agricultural lean season, 2024.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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