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Eritrea: back to the dark ages

Posted by Ethio Tribune on July 15, 2013

 

AsmaraThis information comes from sources with direct contact with people living in Eritrea. It gives a unique picture of life under a regime that tolerates no independent media coverage – national or international. Note: the unofficial exchange rate is 70 – 75 Nakfa to the £.

Life in Asmara today

It has been almost two weeks since there has been any electricity supply in Asmara and those who have no access to generators are in the dark.

Their mobile phones are dead too…

Scarcity of petrol and diesel means public  transport is  difficult. Horse drawn carts and wheel-burrows have returned to the streets.

People use their carts to  transport water. In many areas of the city taps have run dry.

People queue for hours to get water, filling jerrycans and barrels and carting them off.

There is also a scarcity of domestic fuel for cooking. Kerosine is supplied once or twice a year in the government shops.

Every family  gets 5-10 liters. When that runs out people use coal.

Real hardship

Bread is so scares and is only supplied intermittently.

Each person gets one loaf. When it is available the bread is good quality and cheap so people are happy when there is a bread delivery.

Every month 5 liters of cooking oil is provided per family.

The only cereal supplied is sorghum which people use as a staple in place of wheat and taff.

Sorghum is supplied every other month and a family of three gets about 15kg.

Additionally a packet of teabags and 3 kg of sugar is also sold every month. but sometimes the tea bags are not available.

Fresh produce is sold in open markets but the prices are so high a single meal can cost an national service recruits his or her entire salary, of 450 nakfa.

1kg of Potatoes cost 50 nakfa, tomatoes cost 40 and onions 25.  Meat is a luxury that many only dream about –  it costs 250 nakfa per kg.

A medium sized chicken costs 400 nakfa, a goat will set you back 600 nakfa.

The people who are suffering the most are the educated middle classes who may earn 1,500-2,000 nakfas.

Most are expected to  support not only their immediate families but their extended families as well. Many single young men are fleeing the country to avoid this fate.

An email from a relative: “Please send me any cloths that your children don’t need anymore. We use all our money on food and rent (my mum now lives with us as my two brothers are in Juba, South Sudan now).  My three children are literally running around in rags.”

Please note: If you believe that any of this information is inaccurate, please let me know. If you have any further anecdotes about life in Eritrea, please sent it to me.

Updates: I have received these responses since the item was posted.

1. Hospitals are suffering because of shortage of electricity. A blood laboratory result could take more than 10 days. Means if ur sickness is critical ur family will accept the result paper days after ur funeral.

2. I am writing this from Asmara. The statements you wrote about electricity, mobile phones etc are fake. How come I was able to charge my phone of there was no electricity in Asmara for 3 days?

3. Do not believe in those who say those are lies. They are all regime supporters. The government gave just 2hours electricity in the last two days. All u wrote is the dramatic truth!

4. “….a goat will set you back 600 nakfa” I am sure this is wrong. When I left Eritrea 3-4 yrs ago, lamb cost 3000-6000 nakfa.

5. All is true. Also, the authorities do not inform (even unofficially) citizens why power is out. They never do. The fact that this is normal practice tells you how oppressed the people are and how much they don’t know about how their country is run.

6. By the way, power has been going out most of the day for the past months, It only got worst the last two weeks with 0 to 2 hours of electric power per day.

(source: http://martinplaut.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/eritrea-back-to-the-dark-ages/)

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