Through the Lens: One Year on, Russia's War in Ukraine Hits Egypt's Poor

CAIRO — Egypt is embroiled in cost-of-living and currency crises, in part, exacerbated by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine nearly one year ago — the fallout of which has led to severe disruptions in global food and energy security. Vulnerable Cairenes struggle to cope with their ever-diminishing purchasing power. (Captions by Elle Kurancid)

Abu Karas, a 38-year-old grocer, says, “Since the Ukraine war and recent U.S. dollar hikes, my clients’ spending abilities have deteriorated.” Earlier this year, the Egyptian pound hit a record low of 32 pounds to the U.S. dollar.

Omu Pola, a 30-year-old mother of four, says, “My children are young and fussy, and I’m struggling to buy them the food they really like: chicken. Whenever I try to feed them just vegetables or rice, they refuse.”

Omu Abanoub, a 36-year-old widowed mother of two, says, “My children like chicken with their food, but now, a kilo costs 80 pounds [about double last year’s prices]. I can’t afford this, so I often use chicken broth instead.”

A serving of chicken feet, one of the cheapest alternatives to chicken, which the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population’s National Nutrition Institute recently suggested for budget-crunched households.

Abanoub, a 17-year-old student, says, “I started working as an industrial cleaner after school, because my [widowed] mother can’t keep up with the rising cost of living and my education expenses.”

Omu Mina, a 42-year-old mother of four, says, “My husband is sick and unable to work long hours anymore. Now I sort trash after my work as a rug weaver to pay for our children’s schooling.”

Mohamed, a 35-year-old father of five, who is currently unable to work due to a stomach illness, says, “We’ve been out of gas for days, and I can only afford to feed us cheese or fava beans with falafel.”

Rasha, a 32-year-old single woman with arthritis and foot ulcers, who often babysits her nieces, says, “I’ve partnered with my sister-in-law to sell pickles so I can afford my medicine and contribute to our family’s income.”

A new state housing project for former residents of informal settlements, or “slums.” According to the latest official, pre-pandemic figures, about 30 percent of Egyptians live in poverty, with tens of millions more at risk.

Bekhet, a 42-year-old baker of state-subsidized bread, says, “Many of my customers are poor, and they’re becoming even poorer.” Subsidized bread is a lifeline for two-thirds of Egyptians.


Published on 2023-02-09

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Originally posted as: Through the Lens: One Year on, Russia's War in Ukraine Hits Egypt's Poor, made available by Voice of America under the terms of the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal license.

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