Algeria is facing a multifaceted crisis. The urgency is above all economic. A recession, first sparked last year by the fall in oil prices and worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, threatens millions of Algerians from being able to properly put food on the table. Families have been hit by a decision last month by the cash-strapped state to eliminate subsidies of basic food and energy products, which amounts to over $17 billion per year.
Increasingly, the economic hardship is being measured by the shortage of a staple product: the potato. Indeed, the price of potatoes has almost tripled on the Algerian market in just a few months. It has become a symbol of the nation's deteriorating economic situation, stirring up anger within modest households and increasing the risk of protests.
Pointing the finger at local authorities, farmers identified two main problems at the origin of such shortages: mismanagement of an ongoing water crisis that was worsened dramatically by scarce rainfall, and the reduction of cultivable land by 50% due to the lack of storage facilities.