Inflammation and stories on Lebanon

Development Projects in LebanonLebanon is a small country bordered by the countries Israel and Syria. Since gaining its independence in 1943, Lebanon has experienced turmoil within the country. This includes a civil war that lasted from 1975 to 1990, Syrian military occupation from 1976 to 2005, continued fighting between Israel and the Hezbollah militia and a short-lived war in 2006. In more recent times, over one million registered Syrian refugees have fled to Lebanon due to the ongoing Syrian Civil War. As a result of these events, numerous organizations have been working within Lebanon to address a wide variety of concerns and challenges. Below are five noteworthy development projects in Lebanon that are currently being implemented.

The Lebanon Host Communities Support Programme (LHSP)

The LHSP was created in 2012 under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in response to the Syrian Civil War and in joint cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs. The LHSP works in communities where there is a high risk of tension and hostility due to the high numbers of Syrian refugees resettling in these communities. The total budget is over $39 million, with top donors including Denmark, Ecuador and Italy. The LHSP aims to facilitate conflict resolution, create peaceful coexistence and stability and maintain livelihoods and services, making this project a standout in terms of noteworthy development projects in Lebanon.

The Water Supply Augmentation Project of Lebanon

This project, approved in 2014 and projected to end in 2024, is funded by the World Bank and aims to increase the available water supply to the greater Beirut and Mount Lebanon regions. This project includes various components such as financing and constructing the Bisri Dam, constructing pipelines to the already existing Joun reservoir and expanding the Ouardaniyeh water treatment plant. The total estimated cost of this project is $617 million.

Project Supporting Economic and Social Fund for Development (ESFD)

Another example of development projects in Lebanon is the ESFD, which is also a UNDP affiliated project. It was created in 2011 to improve employment and community development opportunities in Lebanon. Due to UNDP’s strong partnerships with local authorities and actors in various parts of the country, this project will support ESFD in working in poorer regions of Lebanon to assist in job creation and community outreach programs. The sole donor of this project is the Lebanese Council for Development, providing a total of over $12 million to this project.

Lebanon Country Programming Framework (CPF)

The CPF, which was started in 2016, aims to address various issues identified in the Ministry of Agriculture Strategy of 2015-2019 and the Food Security Strategic Response Plan of 2016. This project focuses exclusively on seven distinct areas which include increasing food security in vulnerable communities, improving food sanitation and safety, strengthening reliable nutrition information systems, providing assistance to develop sustainable agricultural practices, implementing sustainable management of land, establishing an efficient agricultural statistics system and promoting the increase of crop value chains.

Sports for Development Project

Launched in 2013, this project is a joint collaboration between the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and HOOPS Club, with the objective of fostering communication between Syrian refugees and Lebanese communities. This project has been implemented in Beirut, Akkar, Baalbek and Sour, where there has been a large influx of Syrian refugee families. This project brings together young people from both communities to encourage interaction and the free exchange of ideas and thoughts. Due to the Syrian Civil War, many Syrian refugee children lost their close network of friends and this project helps to foster friendship and establish harmony between the two communities.

Although Lebanon has experienced a broad range of events and political turmoil in just the last 50 years, there are numerous actors, institutions and organizations that are working to improve the situation in Lebanon. Although these projects listed are noteworthy development projects in Lebanon, they are not alone in working to secure a better and brighter future for Lebanese citizens and those that have just started calling Lebanon their home.

Miho Kitamura

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in LebanonIt may not be evident walking down the crowded streets of Beirut, but according to the U.N. Development Programme, more than one in four citizens in Lebanon are currently living in poverty. What is even more shocking is that this number has climbed nearly 66 percent since 2011.

Fortunately, there are many organizations with missions working on human rights in Lebanon to alleviate not only the causes, but the symptoms of poverty. Two of these organizations include the Insan Association and KAFA Enough Violence and Exploitation (KAFA).

The Insan Association works with all marginalized groups in Lebanon, including asylum-seekers and migrant workers. Its mission is to promote human rights in Lebanon through being a voice for individuals who do not have a voice of their own so that they can reach their full socio-economic potential. Insan does this through what is defined on its website as a “scheme consisting of educational, psychosocial, and legal services.”

One way Insan furthers human rights in Lebanon is through the Insan School and Integration Program. The program assists children who have been removed from public schools in Lebanon due to various reasons (including a lack of language ability or psychological or social issues that are not addressed by schools). These programs provide the necessary support for children to integrate back into the public school system. Once they are integrated back, it continues to guide the children until they find a job or enter higher education. These services include providing tutoring or psycho-social support.

KAFA is an NGO dedicated to human rights in Lebanon as well. It achieves this through ensuring a society that is free of discrimination against women and children. KAFA (meaning “enough”) supports its mission through introducing new laws and reforming existing ones and conducting research. It also provides training to empower women and children who have been victims of violence. Its focus is on family violence, trafficking of women, child protection, and sexual abuse cases.

One successful program through KAFA includes the “Citadel of Protection” training. Since 2014, there has been training given to more than 300 service providers living in the area of Bekaa along with 1275 children, 400 teenagers and 935 caregivers. It includes information on children’s sexual development, children’s rights and their protection from gender-based violence which includes early marriage and sexual abuse.

It is organizations like these that will hopefully continue providing services that assist human rights in Lebanon. In these ways, these organizations can get to the root causes of poverty instead of focusing on simply the symptoms.

Sydney Roeder

Photo: Flickr

Organizations That Help People In Lebanon
With crises come many people willing to help. The result of the war in Lebanon borders has brought hard times, leaving Lebanon with a high amount of refugees. Tending to these refugees is the focus of many organizations and foreign aid. The response to the crisis has been addressed with the help of international organizations.

American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) addresses the development and needs of communities in Palestine and Lebanon. ANERA is doing its part to help people in Lebanon by helping the region become more self-sufficient. Its goal is to ensure its projects secure long-term viability.

Today, ANERA is responding to the needs of Syrian refugees with programs. These programs have been helping people in Lebanon cope with their displacement. They are helping them build better futures, providing math and literacy education, making safe schools. Programs are teaching job skills and sports, as well as providing medicines, treatments and awareness.

Oxfam is an international confederation of 20 organizations determined to change the world. Oxfam works to find ways to help people lift themselves out of poverty. With a six-factor strategy, Oxfam seeks to overcome poverty by promoting fundamental rights and empowering women to drive human development. Also, when disaster strikes, Oxfam is present, working to secure global food supplies, and Oxfam enables access to services such as health and education.

Today, Oxfam has worked with others to address governance issues, provide safe water, and worked towards protection in the region, enabling women to take on more leadership roles in the community.

Along with these well-known organizations, many others are working to help people in Lebanon. Not only is aid possible through these organizations, but ordinary citizens may also help as well by supporting them. Donating to help citizens in Lebanon is the number one way to help, and it is the very action that enables these organizations to do these extraordinary acts on the ground.

Brandi Gomez
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in Lebanon
The poverty rate in Lebanon is increasing, but so is the GDP, although not to its full potential, according to the World Bank. The influx of refugees has caused some challenges to the country’s GDP and strain public finances. But Lebanon remains one of the wealthiest economies in the South Mediterranean region.

Lebanon is a free market economy that relies on service-oriented businesses such as banking and tourism for its income. A civil war in Lebanon from 1975-1990 slowed economic progress. In the years that followed, Lebanon’s government struggled to maintain its economy which resulted in heavy borrowing in the 1990s. But in the early 2000s, the government made improvements to the economy. Foreign investment still has many restrictions, delays and obstacles, and the main source of income is tourism.

The GDP of Lebanon increased an estimated 1.8% in 2016, improving from the 1.3% increase in 2015. With that said, the influx of Syrian refugees in Lebanon created challenges with the economy. According to independent Lebanese government sources, up to 1.5 million Syrian refugees (equal to a quarter of the population of Lebanon) have taken refuge in Lebanon since 2011.

This influx of people strained public finances, service delivery and the environment in Lebanon. The poverty rate in Lebanon is expected to worsen because of increasing income inequality. About 200,000 Lebanese became impoverished due to the Syrian crisis, adding to the one million already classified as poor. Additionally, another 250,000 to 300,000 people became unemployed.

Even though the Syrian crisis caused the poverty rate in Lebanon to increase, the GDP is also increasing. There need to be some solutions of where and how to take care of refugees, while also distributing money to Lebanese citizens.

Deanna Wetmore

Photo: Flickr

Three of the most major diseases in Lebanon are coronary heart disease, stroke, and hypertension, according to World Life Expectancy data. These ranked first, second and ninth, respectively. All three diseases are types of cardiovascular diseases, meaning that they affect the heart and blood vessels.

Coronary heart disease is defined as the buildup of plaque over time within the arteries. This plaque can rupture and cause blood clots, or it can weaken the arteries so much that it prevents oxygen from flowing through the blood to the heart, causing a heart attack. A stroke occurs with the interruption or reduction of blood flow to the brain, which may result in the death of brain tissue. Hypertension or high blood pressure is when the heart pumps so much blood that too-thin artery walls cannot properly manage it. This can lead to heart disease or stroke if left untreated, as it weakens heart muscles.

Although cardiovascular diseases account for 31 percent of worldwide deaths according to the World Health Organization (WHO), these same diseases cause 47 percent of all deaths in Lebanon. According to World Life Expectancy, hypertension leads to 2.89 percent of deaths in Lebanon, while strokes cause 10.43 percent. Coronary heart disease itself results in 34.41 percent of all deaths in Lebanon.

One of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease is smoking, which damages blood vessels and other structures of the heart. According to World Life Expectancy data, Lebanon ranks eighth in the world for smoking, which puts its residents at greater risk for developing the major diseases in Lebanon.

The good news is that, in 2014, the Lebanese government partnered with the WHO and began working to prevent smoking in the country. Together they created laws against smoking in public places such as universities, restaurants and hospitals and established a fine for breaking these laws. According to the WHO, Lebanon also removed tobacco advertisements, put warning labels on packages and began a recovery program for smokers to help combat smoking and prevent cardiovascular diseases.

Helen Barker

Photo: Flickr

For citizens, healthcare in Lebanon has become hard to come by. Most people in the country struggle to afford access to health care, despite government attempts at regulating expenses. Now, due to the recent influx of Syrian refugees, access for anyone in Lebanon has become a luxury. Here are the three things you need to know about healthcare in Lebanon.

Three Facts About Healthcare in Lebanon

  1. Healthcare is increasingly becoming scarce: Lebanon is a smaller country with a population of 3.7 million. Most live in the capital city of Beirut. Pricing is a major issue in the country’s healthcare system. The high prices have left about 50 percent of the nation uninsured from any type of health coverage.Other factors, such as a serious lack of medical supplies, have affected citizens healthcare in Lebanon. Hospitals have been reported denying access to those who lack insurance. This has to do with the shortages of hospital beds, medicine and staff. In an interview with, physician Kamal Mohanna stated, “we have 7,000 nurses in Lebanon, but we need 29,000.”
  2. Syrian refugees have put a strain on resources: Currently, 1.5 million Syrian refugees have entered Lebanon. These refugees find themselves sitting in refugee camps where health hazards are a daily occurrence. The influx of people has affected the already crippling inability to access healthcare in Lebanon, affecting both citizens and refugees.The number of families nears hospitals has also increased by 1,400 percent. The refugees themselves are struggling to find health providers and money to pay for said healthcare services. At the beginning of the refugee crisis, due to the increasing strain on medical supplies, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) became a free provider of healthcare. Soon after, the influx of aid forced the organization to begin charging patients a two-dollar fee to receive care.The UNHCR has also lowered the percentage of coverage for emergency patients. The commission formerly covered 85 percent of healthcare costs, but now only covers 75 percent.
  3. Government-funded efforts barely help: The Lebanese government has tried to implement new ways for citizens to have access to healthcare. The National Social Security Fund was created to allow all those who work to receive healthcare aid. Funding is dispersed based on a citizen’s income. The fund covers 10 percent of hospital costs, along with 20 percent of medicine and exam costs, while 100 percent of coverage is dispersed to patients who are terminally ill.

According to, “those enrolled with the National Social Security Fund lose their benefits upon retirement or loss of job, or in other words when they need them the most.” This is an example of how hard it is to receive and maintain healthcare coverage in Lebanon.

Maria Rodriguez

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Lebanon
Poverty in Lebanon is caused by various factors. Since the start of the Syrian crisis in 2011, Lebanon has seen an influx of refugees, resulting in an increase in poverty, something that has been an issue for quite some time. According to the Nations Encyclopedia, the income gap between social classes has increased over the last 10 years. Both the upper and middle class have seen an increase in their income since 1991, but the rest of the country is not earning much money at all as the income of many has dropped below the poverty line.

OXFAM International, a nonprofit that fights poverty, addresses how the issue of poverty is multidimensional. OXFAM International works to address both the cause and impact of poverty in Lebanon, as well as in over 90 other countries. According to its website, the number of people living under the poverty line in Lebanon has increased by 66 percent since 2011. The World Bank discusses goals for economic improvement in Lebanon, including the creation of new jobs and the installment of an improved education system in order to spark an interest in business related jobs in the country’s youth.

Despite Lebanon’s continued economic struggles and the governmental issues behind them, there is still hope for improving poverty in Lebanon. According to data from the World Bank,  between 1992 and 2014 Lebanon’s GDP grew by an average of 4.4 percent, varying from year to year. The data also addressed the creation of new jobs between 2004 and 2009, when varying amounts of growth was seen, particularly in the trade, service and construction industry. According to the World Bank, 15 percent of the population emigrated from Lebanon in 2010, which is a factor in the economic improvement that the country has seen. This emigration increased employment opportunities and therefore sparked economic growth in the country as a whole.

Helen Barker

Photo: Flickr

Quality in LebanonLocated along the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea and sandwiched between Syria and Jordan, the country of Lebanon seems to thrive in an otherwise dry and arid region of the world. In the Middle East where neighboring countries are strapped for sufficient and renewable water resources, Lebanon is fortunate to have the benefit of a coastal border as well as above adequate rainfall. The greatest strength for the country’s water supply stems not from the water itself, but from the efforts that are being made to improve the water quality in Lebanon.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Lebanon has a population of 6.2 million. The majority of this number lives along the Mediterranean coast, with approximately one-third of the population concentrated in the capital city of Beirut and its immediate surrounding areas. Although the area may be rich in the plenitude of beaches, the water quality in Lebanon is impacted by pollution that greatly restricts use and supply.

Most of the country’s water is used for agriculture, which necessitates the use of pesticides and other harsh elements. These toxins seep back into the underground supply through irrigation, causing more pollution to the measure of water quality in Lebanon. Open dumps where sewage and industry waste are deposited into the Mediterranean exist along the entirety of the country’s western sea border. The water that is collected from the sea and river basins is often contaminated with the sewage deposits, while poor filtration can lead to high amounts of sodium and chloride intrusions.

The population concentration in Beirut further erodes the water quality in Lebanon. Water is rationed throughout the country, while inadequate water transportation systems corrode existing pipelines. Many have access to water for only a few hours a day. Those who can afford to buy bottled water do. Those not financially capable of this luxury resort to digging their own wells for water, causing them to consume water from the underground water supply that has been poisoned by agricultural irrigation.

Water-related infections and diseases are common across the country. Diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid and hepatitis have all been reported. Public outrage over the inferior water quality in Lebanon has led to public debate and advocacy work, causing encouraging responses from both the local and international communities.

The World Bank created the Greater Beirut Water Supply Project in 2010 to address the sparse water supply for the high population concentration. The project is planned for completion in 2019 with the goal to provide poor households in south Beirut with water pipeline connectivity. The country’s parliament also passed the National Water Sector Strategy in 2012, a plan to invest in the infrastructure to ensure better water quality in Lebanon and more reliable delivery.

The United States is also involved in the efforts to improve the water quality in Lebanon. In 2013, the Lebanon Water Project was started with the help of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This five-year project’s goal is to address infection and diseases caused by poor water quality in 1,200 schools across the country. So far, the project has installed new water tanks and updated filtration systems in more than 400 schools. These organizations and projects are helping to ensure that the Lebanese population, regardless of location, will have better access to clean and affordable water.

Jeffery Silvey

Photo: Flickr

Refugees in Lebanon
Lebanon hosts an ever-increasing refugee population, largely the result of an ongoing five-year civil war in Syria. Though Syrians comprise the majority of the approximately 1.5 million refugees in Lebanon, Palestinians and a small number of Iraqis have also sought refuge in the country.

Here are 10 important facts about refugees in Lebanon:

  1. There are over 1.5 million refugees in Lebanon, principally from Syria, Palestine and Iraq. The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), reports that there are currently over 1.1 million Syrian refugees seeking protection in the host country.
  2. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 1.02 million Syrian refugees as of Sept. 30 are officially registered with the Lebanese government.
  3. Lebanon, according to the CIA World Factbook July 2015, estimates the population of Lebanon to be 6.1 million. Consequently, they host the largest refugee population per capita in the world, with close to 25 percent of the population having sought refuge in the country.
  4. Lebanon is not a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention nor the 1967 Protocol, which elucidates the international community’s responsibility to protect refugees. In addition, there is no national legislation regarding refugees, but in 2003 a Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) was signed between the UNHCR and the Lebanese government. The MOA gives those in need of asylum a temporary residence permit as their refugee status is decided and a permanent solution is obtained. Since there are no official refugee camps, Syrian refugees are in some of the neediest and most at-risk neighborhoods in the country.
  5. In 2016, the European Commission has promised a total of 87 million euros to Lebanon in humanitarian assistance for refugees. Fifteen million euros specifically for Palestinian refugees from Syria were allocated by the European Commission to assist the U.N.’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), in their effort to supply much-needed cash assistance and educational services.
  6. The UNCHR is doing an extensive amount of work with the help of partners to develop educational prospects for thousands of young Syrian refugees. The UNCHR recently reported that in Lebanon almost 158,000 children, up from 62,664 a year earlier, were enrolled in school.
  7. According to the EU, its humanitarian response to Syrian refugees in Lebanon has for the most part been in cash assistance to help people with basic necessities; and providing health care, shelter, water and sanitation support.
  8. The UNHCR has had much success with the launch of a Facebook group in 2014. The “I am Syrian in Lebanon” group has 30,000 members and it assists people on many things including school enrollment and reporting abuse.
  9. The World Bank Group (WBG) has, with the help of partners, introduced several projects to assist Lebanese communities hosting Syrian refugees. The Municipal Services Emergency Project assists local governments to address crisis issues more in terms of development rather than strictly humanitarian focused.
  10. The WBG project is assisting in the delivery of supplies, such as garbage compactors, service vehicles, water filters, water supply systems, sewage systems and the revitalization of public infrastructure.

The results of WBG projects have had an immensely positive impact on the Lebanese communities where its efforts have been directed.

Heidi Grossman

Photo: Flickr

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
As a result of exhausting their savings, more than two-thirds, 70 percent, of Syrian refugees in Lebanon are living below the Lebanese extreme poverty line of $3.84 per day.

Syria’s civil war has lasted five years killing more than 250,000 people and leaving 11 million displaced. In Lebanon, Syrian refugees make up about a fifth of the population.

Refugees have been forced to spend less on healthcare, cut out meals, pull children out of school and send them to work. Many children work in agricultural fields for as little as $4 a day. Families are borrowing money to cover their essential needs, such as rent, food and health care, putting 90 percent of them in debt.

With no end to the war in sight, aid agencies and governments are finding new ways to help refugees earn a living.

Funding from government and aid agencies has increased from $1.06 billion last year to $1.38 billion this year; however, the number of refugees has also risen from 4 million last year to 4.8 million this year. In February 2016, U.N. and aid agencies appealed for $4.54 billion to aid the Syrian refugee crisis.

Donors have pledged funding and assistance to help create over 1 million jobs for refugees. Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey also agreed to open up their labor markets to refugees.

In northern Lebanon, the Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) handed out relief supplies, including food and detergents, to 250 Syrian families in the town of Mohammara. The relief effort is part of an ongoing humanitarian operation carried out by the Kuwait philanthropic organization.

In eastern Lebanon, KRCS handed out fresh water to 1,200 Syrian refugees in Al-Bekaa. The water has been transferred from a treatment plant that was built by KRCS and Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) in early 2016.

Aid agencies, governments and KRCS are working together to offer help and assistance needed to ease the suffering of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Jacqueline Venuti
Photo: Wikimedia