Food prices skyrocket as political stalemate drags on

Of the various consequences of the Ivorian political crisis, the high price of food is probably the one that most affects average Ivorians. Housewives must resort to every trick in the book in order to fill their cupboards.


The market in Adjamé, Abidjan in 2009. 


Of the many consequences of  the ongoing political crisis in the Ivory Coast, the one that most affects the daily lives of Ivorians is the rising cost of food. Housewives must resort to every trick in the book in order to fill their cupboards and feed their families.


The situation is still very tense on the streets of Abidjan, the economic capital of the Ivory Coast. On Thursday, supporters of Laurent Gbagbo targeted several UN vehicles. The incumbent president, who refuses to relinquish power, is currently facing the threat of military action by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Alassane Outtara, the president recognised by the International community,  is still barricaded in the capital's Golf Hotel.


Meanwhile, prices at the market stalls of Abidjan are skyrocketing and residents, whose average salary is 300 euros, are being forced to tighten their belts more than ever before.

"We have to pre-order butane from gas sellers"

Diane Moumouny lives in Abidjan.


Because of the shortages, we have to pre-order butane from the gas sellers. You have to pay in advance and leave an empty bottle with them. Afterwards, you can only hope that the delivery comes quickly. The queues are unbelievable, to the point that people also have to book their place in the queue in advance."

"Cooks are using beef bones to give meat flavour to a rice dinner"

Eloi D. is a geography student. He lives in the commune of Yopougon in Abidjan.


We have to make do with what little means we have. For example, the price of meat is so high that the person who cooks will use beef bones to give a meat flavour to a rice dinner. What's more, we used to be able to afford to buy tomatoes, aubergines or okra. Now we buy leaves [from manioc or ndolé plants]. It is much cheaper and creates the illusion of having vegetables in the meal.


"The last time I passed the port, there was only one ship at the dock"


Unexpectedly, the rich neighbourhoods have also been affected by the shortages, as their supermarkets were stocked mainly by imported products. And seeing as the port in Abidjan almost no longer functions, they have nothing left on their shelves. The last time I passed the port, there was only one ship at the dock.


The goods that come from neighbouring countries are most often blocked at Bouaké [a zone controlled by the armed group Force Nouvelle, which supports Alassane Ouattara]. Compared to here, there is an abundant supply there. But the traders of the north can no longer earn a living. The slump in trade between the north and the south is damaging for everyone." 

"The price of a kilo of sugar has doubled"

Lanciné Touré, journalist, lives in Cocody, a residential neighbourhood of Abidjan.


I do the shopping for my family of four. Before, we used to spend 5,000 CFA francs (7 euros) a week, now it is at least 8,000 CFA francs (12 euros). A kilo of sugar used to cost 1,000 CFA francs (1.50 euros), now its cost has doubled. A kilo of rice has gone from 350 to 600 CFA francs (50 cents to 1 euro).


For the moment, we do not eat any less than before, but we're clearly putting more and more money into food. We cannot go on for much longer like this. And even when we have a bit of money in the account, most of the automatic cashpoints are closed, so we're always short on cash.


"Any attempt by the people to make demands is seen as taking a political stance"


The problem is that if you demand something, that is associated with taking sides with one political candidate or another. And the situation is so tense that it could quickly backfire on you."