Parents in Lebanon Barter on Facebook through Food Crisis

As mounting food insecurity meets an economy in freefall, Lebanese look to Facebook bartering platforms to exchange household items for food staples

The recent massive explosions in Beirut are blocking vital food imports and placing further strain on Lebanon’s struggling economy, according to aid organization Mercy Corps in Beirut. As the inflated price of food throws many into crisis, parents turn to bartering online to sustain their families.

In October 2019, protests over government corruption and mismanagement erupted across the country. The Lebanese Lira lost 80 percent of its value over ten months, plunging the country into a deep recession. When COVID-19 hit the country, Lebanon’s central bank unraveled, sending a wave of Lebanese into poverty and unemployment. 

Many citizens can no longer afford basic food stables, according to Al Arabiya, a Middle Eastern news channel. The World Food Programme reported in June that nearly 50 percent of Lebanese now worry about food security. 

As international organizations scramble to respond to Lebanon’s food crisis, families are turning to online platforms to share food and resources. Established in late May, Lebanon Barters allows Facebook users to swap household goods and services for food items.

“Banks stopped giving money to people, their dollars, even their savings,” Hassam Hasna, Founder of Lebanon Barters, tells Food Tank. “So I created this platform…an item towards an item, a service towards an item, a service towards a service.” 

Hasna says the platform has seen over 100,000 users in the past two months, with nearly 20,000 registered users and a over hundred posts for food trades each day. In the group, users can offer anything from clothing and gaming technology to diapers and infant formula. 

Other Facebook bartering groups like LibanTROC are also seeing a surge in participation, with a total of nearly 60,000 users. The page is overwhelmed by barter and aid requests following the explosions, according to the group’s Founder.

“People get what they want without begging for it,” Hasna says, arguing that it allows those in need to provide for themselves and lean on their community. “Barter is dignity.” 

Photo Courtesy of Unsplash, Michael Yeghyan