As food prices remain high, struggling vendors help where they can
“People are only able to buy half of what they used to be able to buy with the same amount of money,” says Sayed*, a middle-aged Egyptian vegetable store owner in Tripoli. He has been living in Libya for 30 years and has been selling vegetables for almost as long.
"People struggle to get cash from the bank. Goods are expensive and supplies are in shortage. The prices have shot up due to the war, as well as frequent power and water cuts and increased transportation costs. Those who bought 2 kg [of vegetables] before, now only buy 1 kg," he said adding that his store saw a decline in sales over the past months because of the economic hardship and upsurge in prices people in Libya are facing.
"Some customers buy on credit, some pay at the end of the month, some don't have enough [money], and I help them. I get people coming to my store asking if there are some leftovers. I gather some vegetables, like tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and give it to them," Sayed says. About two to three people come to his store each day, asking for help. Some who have purchased on credit never come back.
Sayed is married and has two sons in school in Egypt. He plans to keep running his store a little while longer before moving back permanently. Although he is concerned about not being able to make a living back home, the current challenges might not leave him with any other option.
*Name changed to protect identity.