Friday, February 1, 2008
It is still very cold in Beirut and the rest of Lebanon, and there was snow in my village which is just at 250 m altitude. My friend who is from Berlin tells me that Beirut is a very cold place, although the external temperature is around 10 degrees celcius most days (but much lower at night). The problem is that it is about the same temperature in the houses too. There is practically no central heating in Lebanon, and most people are too poor to purchase fuel for heating, so they rely on electrical heating. But in the poor areas (all of them, not just the Southern Suburbs and South Lebanon as the government would want us to believe. Read here for more) electricity is not affordable, and people just steal it. This puts pressure on the neighborhood converters which get damaged and electricity is then gone from the whole neighborhood, and it stays off until the repair team comes and fixes it, which can take several days (read here how there has been no electricity in 3300 households in the poor Ramel al Ali area for more than 2 weeks). I wouldn't be surprised if the riots of last Sunday were linked one way or another to this vicious cycle. This is what the government should address: poverty and inequality, if it wants to curtail the stealing of electricity.