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Reduced assistance in Lebanon leads to widening consumption gaps

  • Key Message Update
  • Lebanon
  • March 2024
Reduced assistance in Lebanon leads to widening consumption gaps

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Populations in need across Lebanon have experienced reductions to humanitarian food assistance in recent months, following a series of cuts to WFP programming since late 2023. Since December 2023, WFP reduced cash assistance benefits for around 800,000-900,000 Syrian refugees by 30 percent and stopped assistance to around 9,000 refugees of other nationalities. WFP has also reported reducing the number of Lebanese beneficiaries of in-kind assistance by a half starting in January 2024; however, the actual extent of cuts is unclear, as WFP has simultaneously reported reaching 600,000-700,000 Lebanese beneficiary households with in-kind assistance, both before and after the stated cuts. Finally, in February 2024, WFP reported reducing the value of cash assistance to over 400,000 beneficiaries of the Lebanese National Poverty Targeting Program by 44 percent. Following the cuts to assistance, key informants report that households have been increasingly drawing upon their own savings, selling jewelry and depleting productive assets, and in more extreme cases skipping meals to afford feeding their children.
    • In southern Lebanon, the ongoing cross-border fighting between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hezbollah continues to disrupt livelihood activities and displace households, limiting access to food and income from typical sources amid a decline in general humanitarian food assistance across the country. Additionally, many non-displaced agricultural households who typically enjoy improved access to income during the upcoming harvest season also face concerns over extensive damage to—and inability to access—agricultural land and livestock. In addition to impairing livelihoods, households in affected areas are facing disrupted access to water and healthcare. As a result, many displaced and non-displaced poor households in southern Lebanon are likely increasingly engaging in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes to minimize food consumption gaps. WFP has reported reaching a total 142,500 conflict-affected individuals with various forms of assistance since October 2023, including 100,000 reached in February 2024, though needs are expected to far exceed reach.
    • From October 10, 2023, to March 19, 2024, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) recorded 90,491 individuals newly displaced across Lebanon, mostly in the conflict-affected south. Although individuals continue to be displaced, with around 1,000 people newly displaced from March 5-10, the total population of the displaced has remained largely stable in recent weeks, given that displaced households are also returning home as they are able to do so. In total, over 95 percent of displacements have occurred in the three southern districts of Bint Jbeil, Marjayoun, and Tyre. As of March 26, the number of displaced persons from these districts reached 63,337, 14,252, and 10,366, respectively. In recent weeks, IOM included West Bekaa as the tenth district to record conflict-affected displacement. Displaced households continue to move primarily to nearby districts of Nabatiyeh and Saida, with the highest proportion moving to safer parts of Tyre. Some families who could afford the higher cost of living have traveled as far as Beirut and Baabda. 
    • Northen Lebanon hosts a large population of refugees (mainly Syrian). In some areas, the size of the refugee population exceeds the size of the local population. As such, community resources are strained, and the high competition over limited labor opportunities has likely increased further in recent months following the cuts to humanitarian assistance that have been implemented since December 2023. High concern for acute food insecurity exists for refugees and the poorest households of the local population, particularly in Akkar. Across the north, at least 20 percent of refugees are likely to continue facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes characterized by food consumption gaps or engagement in exhaustive livelihood coping strategies such as selling productive assets in order to meet their food needs. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Lebanon Key Message Update March 2024: Reduced assistance in Lebanon leads to widening consumption gaps, 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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