Living conditions and public services continued to deteriorate
The indirect impacts of COVID-19 also have had a significant impact on people’s livelihoods and living conditions. COVID-19, along with insecurity and a blockade of the oil sector for most of the year, further debilitated the already weak economic situation. The ability of many people to afford rent, as well as to cover other basic needs, was further weakened.
Border closures, disrupted trade, movement restrictions and curfews saw increase in prices of essential food and goods coupled with reduced availability in the market. While prices began to reduced following a peak in early May, where prices were 23 per cent above pre-COVID levels, by the end of November they remained 16 per cent above pre-COVID levels, according to the joint market monitoring compiled by REACH. Higher prices for food and other basic commodities were compounded by the impact of curfews and lockdown measures that also affected people’s access to work and livelihoods, further eroding people’s living standards.
Throughout the year, regular disruptions to water and electricity were reported across the country, sometimes for up to 18 hours per day. These were the result of a fuel and energy crisis, lack of maintenance and deliberate attacks on infrastructure by armed groups. In addition to stretching people’s coping capacities, the outages affected the operations of health facilities and made it more difficult for communities to follow preventative protocols to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In the second half of the year thousands of people took to the streets to protest against the deteriorating living conditions.
While schools started to re-open, first in the east from 5 December and in the west from 2 January, the prolonged closure put additional pressure and stress on parents and caregivers, particularly women, who disproportionately carry the burden of providing home-schooling and managing the negative impact of confinement and curfew on children. While distance learning, through television and online platforms, were implemented to continue children’s education, the 2020 Multi-Sector Needs Assessment found that 81 per cent of students enrolled in school were unable to access these resources. Prior to the closure of schools due to COVID-19, many schools in and around Tripoli were closed due to the proximity to armed clashes or shelling, including 16 schools in the frontline areas of Ain Zara and Suq Aljumaa that were closed for four consecutive months. The phased re-opening enables children to safely return to school while adhering to strict COVID-19 controls and prevention measures.