To inform humanitarian cash programming, REACH, in partnership with the Cash-Based Responses Technical Working Group (CBR-TWG), conducts monthly Market Monitoring Exercises in northern Syria to assess the availability and prices of 36 basic commodities that are typically sold in markets and consumed by average Syrian households, including food and non-food items, water, fuel, and cellphone data.
Of these, 18 items comprise the Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket (SMEB; see below), which represents the minimum, culturally adjusted items required to support a 6-person household for a month.
Data was collected this month (between 6-16 January 2020) by ACTED, CARE Shafak, GOAL, People In Need (PIN), REACH, SARD, Solidarités International (SI), STC Shafak, Violet, and Watan.
The accompanying data from the month of January is disseminated monthly and is distributed through partners across the humanitarian community.
January 2020’s coverage
This month, REACH and partners covered 41 subdistricts in the northwest for the Market Monitoring Exercise. In total, approximately 2,860 individual shops were covered in this month’s Market Monitoring.
Highest northwest SMEB cost recorded under Market Monitoring Exercise
This month, the SMEB cost increased by 18% from 90,380 Syrian Pound (SYP) in December 2019 to 106,563 SYP in January 2020, resetting the highest price recorded by the Market Monitoring Exercise the third time in a row since November 2019. Yet, the SMEB cost in United States Dollar (USD) showed a small decrease of 3% from 107 USD to 104 USD. The continuous rise in the SMEB cost in SYP could be attributed to the ongoing depreciation of the SYP against the USD, coupled with increasing prices on water trucking, nonfood items (NFI) (particularly dishwashing soap) and fresh vegetables.
Informal USD/SYP exchange rate sharply increased to over 1:1000
At the time of data collection in January 2020, the informal USD/SYP exchange rate continued to show an upward trend across the region, with the highest rate recorded at 1,070 SYP in Jandairis sub-district in Aleppo governorate. Ultimately, the median recorded informal USD/SYP exchange rate increased by 22% in the northwest from 843 SYP to 1,024 SYP against 1 USD this month, surpassing the 1 USD to 1,000 SYP threshold. The continuous economic sanctions imposed on Syria as well as the economic turmoil in neighbouring Lebanon are reported as the main drivers spurring the plummet of the SYP’s strength.
Significant increases in vegetable prices
Vegetable items, specifically tomatoes and onions, were recorded at much higher prices across northwest Syria this month. The regional median value of the SMEB vegetable component recorded a 42% increase from 3,330 SYP to 4,725 SYP this month. The significant increase in vegetable prices were reportedly due to the noticeable rise in exchange rate of SYP against the USD, increased dependency on imported vegetables that incur high transportation costs (driven by high fuel prices) as well as the end of the agricultural season.