Interviews with people in a street bazaar in Van, a Kurdish-majority province in eastern Turkey, reveals the extent to which the country’s painful economic crisis has detrimentally impacted upon people.
Whilst the economic crisis in Turkey deepens with the coronavirus pandemic, street markets and bazaars are some of the key places to observe the impacts of the crisis on people. People in a street bazaar located in the Old Sıhke road in Turkey’s Van (Wan) province shared their concerns relating to financial distress amidst the pandemic, rising prices and unemployment with Mesopotamia Agency.
Trying to make ends meet with retirement pensions
Sabiha Çiçek, a retired citizen, described the financial difficulties she faces in trying to make ends meet with her “retirement pension”. “The prices are so high. I am trying to live on my pension. I am lucky that I don’t have to pay rent. I cannot imagine how I could survive if I had to pay rent”, she said.
Çiçek stated that in order to make ends meet, she has had to economise on even her most basic needs in terms of cooking and food, shopping and clothing necessities. “We have cut expenses in everything: our clothing and all. When we find some cheap T-shirts for 10 TL, we can buy them. We cannot buy clothes from shops”, she said.
‘We are unemployed and cannot find any jobs’
Nihat Yokuş, another citizen shopping in the street bazaar, has been living on his daily wage and was able to buy the few-days needs of his family with his wages, but now his wages where he works for only a few days per week only allows him to cover the needs of a day. “I have to pay around 1000 TL in bills every month. My wife asked me to buy some essentials when I was leaving the house. I could only buy the 5-10% of what she asked,
because we don’t have any money”, he said.
Yokuş has been a worker who has been relying on daily wages for more than 20 years, but now he faces unemployment as well. “My daily wage was enough to buy our needs of four days. Now my wages for four days a week’s work does not cover our daily expenses. Life is so expensive. There is no job. We are unemployed and cannot find any jobs”, he said.
From the village to the city…
Almaz Taşkıran is a farmer who came to the city centre from his village. She was surprised to see the prices in the bazaar. “I wanted to buy some fruits and vegetables before I left town, but everything is so expensive. I cannot afford to buy anything”, she said.
By making a quick comparison with the circumstances in her village and the city centre, she added: “Our economic situation is not good at all. I take care of fifteen animals and I live off my animals, but at least village life is better than the city as everything is much more costly in the city”.
The situation of bazaar workers has worsened during the pandemic
Kemal Aşkan, a bazaar seller for 16 years, stated that the situation of bazaar workers has worsened during the pandemic. “We had better business before the pandemic. Some friends of ours have had to close their counters after experiencing days without a single sale”, he said.
Aşkan states that the bazaar workers are not able to earn enough to make ends meet. “What we earn during a day is spent over the same day. Sometimes, what we earn does not even cover our daily expenses”, he said.