Rising prices deprive Yemen’s poor of access to food
السبت 20 مارس - آذار 2021 الساعة 10 مساءً / Yemeni Media Center
عدد القراءات (113)
Muneera Ahmed Al-Tyar
The suffering of the Yemenis doubles, and their successive crises multiply day by day. While the sixth year of war comes to an end, poverty keeps rising in Yemen, and the opportunities for a decent living are getting slim for the majority of Yemenis.
The livelihood has become a ghost that haunts citizens, and a daily concern that troubles the breadwinners of families who struggle to put food on the table in light of the successive increases in the prices of commodities and foodstuffs, especially wheat flour, whose prices skyrocketed in record rates during the past few days.
The salaries have been unpaid for years, and job opportunities are hard to find amidst continued wars and a suffocating blockade. This year, Yemenis will receive Ramadan with high increases in the prices of basic commodities and fuel, a matter which can prompt the number of bakeries’ owners to stop operating. Some bakeries have deliberately reduced the size of the bread loaves in a way that made providing enough meals a cumbersome task for numerous families.
Muhammad al-Asali, the breadwinner of an eight-member family, spoke to the Yemeni Media Center, saying “ We did not find the gas cylinder that we receive once a month, and when we receive, it does not last even two weeks. So, we had to buy bread from the bakeries, but some bakeries started closing their doors under the pretext of high prices. We had to go to other bakeries that keep operating, but we were surprised by the decrease in the size of loaves.”
With great anger and sadness, he added, “I bought loaves for 500 riyals [$1 = YR600 in Sanaa] and that was not enough for my family’s dinner.”
Asali is in his fifties and works in carpentry, which is an irregular job. He goes every morning, waiting on the street to be picked for work. Most of the days, he returns home empty-handed.
Asali used to be an employee with a travel and tourism agency, but the agency shut down given the war and blockade. All employees in the agency including Asali were laid off.
Asali is one of many millions in Yemenis who live below the poverty line. Recent UN reports say that there are about 16 million Yemenis in need of food aid, of whom 11 million suffer from severe food insecurity.
Yemen has lately witnessed price hikes of food commodities, including flour. The price of 50 kilograms of wheat flour reached YR17000 (28 dollars) in Sanaa. Citizens used to buy it for YR13000 a few months earlier. However, the price of 50 kilogram of wheat flour in in Aden and other southern provinces reached YR25000. The difference in the pricing is attached to the disparity of the currency value against the dollar.
Ahmed Fouad, a worker in a bakery in the capital Sana'a, said the bakery in which he was working closed because selling bread at the old price is not possible given the rise in the price of flour.
He told the Yemeni Media Center, "The price of flour has increased, and cooking gas is not easy to find and it is expensive, and so is diesel. So, there is no profit in opening the bakery."
One of the importers of flour attributed the rise in its prices to a number of factors, including the continuation of the blockade imposed on Yemen, in addition to the instability of the local currency exchange rates against the dollar, the high transportation cost, and the high insurance on ships coming to Yemen.
Economists warn against the danger of this rapid deterioration of the Yemeni economy, and the catastrophic consequences of the continuing war that have made access to food a daunting concern for several families.
Some government authorities have added to the suffering of bakeries’ owners.
Taher Alhimyari, the head of bakeries committee, told the Yemeni Media Center “Unfortunately, we face abuses by some government bodies, including taxes authority that demands large sums of money and other authorities that impose fees on us, a matter that consumes our profits and increase our burdens.”
Under the flames of war, prices, monopoly, and exploitation, Yemenis spend miserable years of life alone, without support and without hope as successive crises have drained them, and robbed them of all their aspirations and dreams of a decent life. Today, they are being deprived of their right to obtain a loaf of bread, which is now beyond their financial capacity.