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Barter economy: Lebanese turn to Facebook to swap goods for food

A screengrab of the Facebook page "Lebanon barters" where users can exchange goods for food and other essential items.
A screengrab of the Facebook page "Lebanon barters" where users can exchange goods for food and other essential items. © REUTERS / FRANCE 24
2 min

With Lebanon plunged into an unprecedented financial crisis that has seen the value of the country’s currency collapse, some have switched to swapping goods and services for food and other essentials online to make ends meet.

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A Facebook group called "Lebanon barters" has gained more than 16,000 members in just a month and has seen people trade everything from clothes to gym equipment in exchange for essentials such as milk, sugar and canned goods.

"It's a good thing for people who are in need and unable to buy [things]. In this situation in the country, things are expensive. For example, I have a machine to clean baby bottles that I don't need anymore, because my son is a grown up, I can trade it for food or something that I need,” user Siham told Reuters.

Lebanon’s financial crisis, its worst since the 1975-1990 civil war, has seen unemployment skyrocket and the value of the Lebanese pound fall 80 percent in a matter of months.

At the same time, the price of basic goods, many of which are imported, has soared.

Lots of people have turned to charity, but bartering is increasingly seen as preferable to living off handouts, according to the creator of the "Lebanon barters" Facebook page, which now gets over 200 requests for trades a day.

"Some people perceive bartering as a terrible thing, using it to explain how desperate we are... No, Lebanese are not poor, they are generous people who need to maintain their dignity,” "Lebanon barters" creator told Hassan Hasna.

“A Lebanese person would say: 'Yes, the economic situation is tough, and the situation is deteriorating but it doesn't mean I want to humiliate myself and beg. I am willing to barter a piece of clothing in exchange for bread.' I am proud of such people. They're doing the impossible to survive and live with dignity."

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