Barry Malone: “At times like this, we have to stick together. And what sort of solidarity is better than global solidarity? For this piece, Context tapped correspondents in Johannesburg, Beirut, Mutare, Lagos, New Delhi and London to put together a series of tips on how to survive without electricity. As blackouts and power shedding become more common around the world, maybe this is one for your bookmarks.”
Everything is getting more expensive. And it’s happening in almost every country in the world. The war in Ukraine, coronavirus, climate change, rising oil prices—a swirling cocktail of global shocks has led to people feeling the pinch in their pockets.
Though the crisis is global, its impacts are pretty varied from country to country as you’ll see in the collection below. Protests have erupted in several nations, public sector workers have gone on strike, and governments have found their power threatened.
But this cost of living crisis has other, sometimes even more insidious, impacts that fly under the international news radar. The ripple effect on humanitarian aid is just one example. With money from Western governments flowing to the war in Ukraine, there is less to spend in, say, Somalia, which is teetering on the brink of full-blown famine.
So, alongside tips to help you navigate these difficult economic times, we’ve brought you stories of how the crisis is impacting people around the world, and how they’re coping as well.
BM: “I absolutely love the idea for this podcast series from the BBC. They get people from different generations around a table to discuss surviving the crisis. Can young people today learn from those who managed to scrape through previous crises in the 80s and 90s? Give the episode with Sophia and Chris a listen.”
BM: “At times like this, you often hear middle class people moaning that the price of coffee has gone up or that they can’t go out to restaurants anymore. But nobody is suffering more than people who were already suffering. This piece talks to some of the most disadvantaged people in Zambia about how their lives have changed since the crisis began.”
BM: “With inflation biting, you’ll have noticed prices spiraling on the supermarket shelves. The BBC has put together a nice list of cheap and cheerful—but delicious—meals to cook at home. Squash & halloumi flatbreads with sweet chilli beetroot jam, anyone? Oh god, yes please.”
BM: “Listen, no matter what is going on, humans are resourceful, humans have agency and humans are creative. So here’s a story of resourcefulness, agency and creativity out of India. Heard of solar-powered fridges? You have now. Click through to this story to find out how they can fight wood waste.”
BM: “What happens when people are unhappy with their pay and conditions? Very often, they strike. And, with economies under pressure everywhere, the world is seeing a massive wave of industrial action. This discussion show from Al Jazeera brings together a group of experts and activists from different places to talk through why this is happening, what workers want, and how governments can and should respond.”
BM: “This piece from the UK has some really harrowing stats, such as half of single mothers being unable to afford food or essential supplies in the last 12 months. So, some are turning to sex work for the first time in order to survive. And there’s another impact discussed here: sex workers themselves are seeing their incomes plummet, forcing many to get involved in more risky activities to keep the money coming in.”
BM: “Rest of World is a brilliant place to find tech stories from all over the globe that you won’t often find in the rest of the Western media. In this deeply-reported piece, they spoke to gig workers in India, Argentina, and South Africa to find out about the very particular ways in which the cost of living crisis affects them. Gig workers have very precarious working conditions and often lack the benefits other workers enjoy. So this is an important read.”
BM: “Here’s the thing. Sometimes the absolute worst impacts of the crisis get little coverage in international news as the media is obsessing over what’s happening in Western capitals. Somalia is perhaps the most glaring example of this. The country is staring down the barrel of famine and people are already dying. This dispatch from the ground is a tough read but we need to bear witness to what is happening and push for a global effort to address it.”
BM: “A sorry fact. Wherever people are struggling, vultures will appear. As India goes through an unemployment crisis, scammers are luring people into paying up-front for training for jobs. But the jobs don’t exist. Also, the criminals pay people to carry out the scamming. Weird: you can get a job scamming other people into taking fake jobs. Hard to imagine so many falling prey to this at any other time.”
Barry Malone is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Context. Previously, he was a foreign correspondent who lived in and reported from countries, including Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Libya, Iraq and Tunisia. He has also been Digital Editor at Al Jazeera, and for several years ran a live talk show focused on international politics and culture. You can follow him on Twitter @malonebarry.