BEIRUT – The World Bank on Monday approved a $150 million loan to help Lebanon fund wheat imports and keep bread prices stable for nine months, the country’s economy minister told Reuters.
The program, known as the Lebanon Wheat Supply Emergency Response Project, still needs approval by the country’s cabinet and parliament, said Amin Salam.
A World Bank spokesperson said the loan aimed to “finance immediate wheat imports to avoid the disruption in supply over the short term and help secure affordable bread for poor and vulnerable households including… refugees in Lebanon.”
Lebanon is heavily reliant on food imports and pays for them in dollars, which have become increasingly difficult to obtain since its economy crashed in 2019.
Since then, the Lebanese pound has lost more than 90% of its value while food prices have gone up more than 11-fold, according to the World Food Programme.
The bread shortage has been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, which supplies most of Lebanon’s wheat, and by Beirut’s inability to store wheat reserves since its largest silos were destroyed in the 2020 Beirut port explosion.