Inflation isn’t impacting people equally, though, and for those with dependents, the higher prices are pinching families at home and abroad.
Migrant workers and people who send money to relatives abroad are often saving less because they’re forced to spend more due to inflation.
For some, the only option is hustling even harder, working weekends and nights, and taking on second jobs.
For others, it means cutting back on meat and fresh fruits in order to send what’s left of their savings to family back home, some of whom are fleeing famine or conflict.
Lissa Jataas sends about 200 euros ($195) from her desk job in Cyprus to a family in the Philippines each month.
To save money, she looks for cheaper food at the grocery store and buys clothes from a charity shop affiliated with her church.
A staggering 71 million more people around the world experienced poverty as a result of higher food and energy prices that climbed in the weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its impact on the availability of grains from the Black Sea region, according to the United Nations Development Program.
The ripple effect of the war in Ukraine on grain-importing countries exacerbated already dire economic conditions in countries still reeling from the economic shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of climate change.
When the price of food and fuel shoots up globally, that means what people are able to send to relatives back home is not going as far as it once did.
The International Monetary Fund estimates that global inflation will peak at 9.5% this year, but in developing countries, inflation is much higher.
In Somalia, drought and conflict have forced 1 million people to flee their homes.
The current drought is worse than any the country can remember, and thousands of people have died, many of them children.
The U.N. says half a million children are at risk of death due to malnutrition or famine.
Mahdi Warsama, 52, emigrated to the U.S. from Somalia when he was 17.
Now a U.S. citizen and graduate of resilience and security studies, he sends anywhere from $300 to $3,000 a month to relatives in northern Somalia, sometimes borrowing money in order to send members of his clan what they need to pay for medical bills and other emergencies.
Warsama, who splits his time between Columbus, Ohio, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, estimates he sent $1,500 last month to help relatives pay for basic necessities like food and water for themselves and their livestock.
People needing his help amid the country’s drought include siblings and distant relatives.
He’s changed his spending habits and is looking for ways to earn more while closely watching the news to monitor rate hikes and inflation – something he never did before this year.
For Jaatas, the six relatives she supports in the Philippines are not only facing rising costs but are reeling from the aftermath of a typhoon that knocked out water and electricity in their town.
Analysis by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says the Philippines is the most food-insecure country in emerging Asia due to its reliance on imported food to feed its expanding population.
Ester Beatty, who heads a chapter of the European Network of Filipino Diaspora in Cyprus, said it’s common to see Filipinos working in Cyprus on Sundays and not enjoying the day off because they are trying to find extra income to support relatives back home struggling to afford the high cost of staples like rice and sugar.
In low-income countries, families spend over 40% of their household incomes on food despite government subsidies.
Ali el-Sayyed Mohammed, 26, came to the United Arab Emirates in February after several years of searching for work in Egypt.
Nothing he found provided a living wage, he said.
“Life is expensive and wages don’t cover enough so I took the step of leaving,” he said. “It was a hard decision at first, but the situation left me with no choice.”
With his father deceased, Mohammed is the family’s primary breadwinner, caring for three sisters and his mother.
He hails from Beheira, a Nile Delta province that has seen many of its young men leave, sometimes embarking on deadly voyages across the Mediterranean Sea in search of work in Italy and other European countries.
With around $1,000 saved up, some of which he borrowed, Mohammed came to Dubai and crashed at friends’ apartments until he landed a job at one of Dubai’s most popular Egyptian restaurants, Hadoota Masreya.
The rising cost of living in Egypt has made his goals of saving enough to help his sister get married next year or to secure his own future even harder.
Inflation in Egypt has climbed to around 16% as the value of the local currency has dropped, making life for millions of Egyptians living in poverty even more difficult.
Hadoota Masreya’s manager, Mohamed Younis, said he’s constantly being contacted by Egyptian men looking for work and a way out of Egypt, and the number is growing.
Younis manages a YouTube channel called ‘Restaurant Clinic’ that gives advice in Arabic on how to achieve success in the restaurant industry.
He warns that making the move to the UAE comes with risks because finding a job takes both time and money.
Published on: African News
Publication date: 25 October, 2022