Amid unaffordable prices of fuel and natural gas | Residents in Idlib countryside turn to use dry dung for heating and cooking
Dire living conditions have forced many families to use alternatives of materials they had used for heating and cooking. Dry dung is one of these alternatives which many people in north-west Syria region turned to use recently in light of the unaffordable prices of natural gas and other materials used for heating, including fuel.
Dry dung was well-known in rural areas across Syria, as some families used to let dung in the sunlight during summer until it got dried, and stored large amounts in order to be used in winter only for setting fire. However, dry dung is used recently by many displaced families in refugee camps for heating as an alternative to fire logs and coal.
Speaking to SOHR, a displaced woman known by her initials as S. W. in Deir Hassan area in the northern countryside of Idlib said, “after I had left with my husband and children from the western countryside of Hama to a camp in Deir Hassan area, our living conditions deteriorated greatly, as my husband lost his job, so we could not afford the prices of natural gas and turned to use dry dung for heating and cooking. I put dry dung in the wood-burner stove, disregarding the stinky smell. I buy dry dung from my neighbour for 20 TL a bag. Although it is not easy to set fire and cook outside the tent and we suffer from the stinky smell when I put dry dung in the wood-burner stove, I prefer using dry dung than the other alternatives, including fuel and natural gas, for its low price. With the recent prohibitively high prices of basic essentials and dire living conditions of families in refugee camps, many families returned to using dry dung, while many women have made a career of selling dry dung after having it dried and stored.”
Another displaced man known as H. A. from the northern countryside of Hama and now living in Maryamin village in the western countryside of Idlib has told SOHR that dry dung is more widespread in west Idlib countryside, as it is available in some stores selling materials used for heating. The man says, “families who are struggling with extreme poverty and cannot afford the price of gas cylinders, coal or logs turn to use dry dung which is sold for 20 TL to 30 TL a bag. Dry dung had used in Syria’s villages, especially by families who had cows, where they had stored large amounts during summer to use them in winter. Moreover, these families had sold dry dung to merchants who toured villages in large trucks collecting large amounts. The current dire living conditions have forced many residents to return to using this material which is used almost everywhere in Jisr Al-Shughour, Darkoush and the villages of Al-Jabal Al-Wastani. The dire living conditions, lack of sources of income and high prices of fuel, natural gas and other alternative materials used for heating have forced the region’s residents to use dried dry dung and other rudimentary and unhealthy materials. If the price of nature gas increases further, only individuals with high monthly salaries will be able to buy gas cylinders.”
The high prices of fuel, especially natural gas which has reached to levels unaffordable by many, have strongly hit displaced civilians, especially with “Watad Petroleum Company” controlling fuel market in HTS-controlled areas, stockpiling and pricing fuel and prevent any other companies from promoting their products in these areas. Watad company also set the prices of its products at US dollar instead of the Turkish currency which has hit a record low.
On January 23, the HTS-backed company set the price of a gas cylinder at 12 USD, equivalent to 161 TL. Also, the prices of other materials used for heating have increased with the beginning of winter and ongoing freefall of the Turkish Lira.
It is worth noting that most inhabitants in Idlib city and countryside are struggling with extreme poverty and lack of sources of income almost completely in light of suspension of support provided by humanitarian organizations and relevant authorities, along with HTS hegemony exercised over markets, as well as its monopoly of the economy.