Syria conflict: The independent parts of Damascus
16 January 2013 Last updated at 19:43 GMT
In Syria's capital, buying bread from state providers can take as long as two hours, and fuel shortages have pushed petrol prices astronomically high.
Syrian officials say there are no opposition forces in the city, but in some areas the guns are not the only things in rebel hands.
Opposition leaders say there are gaps in state provision, so they have stepped in - with everything from soup kitchens for the poor to an independent makeshift justice system.
Lyse Doucet reports from Damascus.