USAID Lebanon celebrated World Teacher’s Day 2021 by recognizing the 35,000 Syrian and Lebanese students who received basic literacy and numeric skills through USAID’s summer catch-up program. By partnering with Lebanon’s Ministry of Education, USAID equipped 3,500 teachers with mentorship, curriculum and school supplies. This is just a glimpse of the impact of USAID programs in Lebanon.
USAID Programs in Lebanon
The United States’ relationship with Lebanon began as early as 1951. Since USAID’s commitment to assist Lebanon’s development in 2006, USAID has supported Lebanon with more than $1.3 billion worth of foreign aid. USAID’s work in Lebanon focuses on three main sectors: education, “local development and governance” and economic development. In 2021 alone, USAID contributed $41 million to fund COVID-19 relief and economic development programs in Lebanon. This funding continues to impact the lives of millions amid rising poverty levels in Lebanon.
It is important to note that Lebanon has not always needed this level of support. Once a continental trade center, Lebanon has a rich development history, complete with rising income levels and GDP growth. A 15-year civil war ending in 1990 disrupted the value of the Lebanese pound, creating a snowball effect of economic casualties. With the compounded effects of COVID-19, a global recession and a refugee crisis, 82% of the Lebanese population lives in multidimensional poverty in 2021.
Improving Education in Lebanon
USAID programs in Lebanon focus on improving education systems, acknowledging that education is a proven tool for long-term poverty reduction. The current state of the Lebanese public education system is poor. Noting the dilapidated school infrastructure in Lebanon, USAID aims to provide rehabilitation support to Lebanon by “helping to renovate nearly a third of all Lebanese public schools. “Additionally, USAID is supplying all 256 public high schools with “science lab equipment.” To improve the quality of education, USAID is “training 75 English-speaking teacher trainers from the Ministry of Education on the methodologies of teaching the subjects of English, science and math.”
The Reaching all Children with Education (RACE) program ran from 2013 to 2016. The second phase of the program will reach conclusion at the close of 2021. RACE aims to enhance “access to formal education for 460,000 Syrian refugee children and underprivileged Lebanese children in the country.” RACE’s phase 2 aims to accomplish this “by expanding equitable access to schooling, improving conditions for learning and strengthening management of the education system.”
To promote higher education as a means to decrease poverty, USAID has supplied full university scholarships “to more than 1,300 Lebanese and refugee students.” USAID also helps 12 higher education institutions in Lebanon “to better prepare their graduates” for success in the job market after their studies.
Local Development and Governance
USAID programs in Lebanon work with local governments to build better civil services, increase access to drinking water and modernize technical infrastructure. The water and sanitation program has invested $180 million since 2006 in order to rehabilitate water infrastructure. This program has increased drinking water access for 620,000 Lebanese citizens and 120,000 Syrian refugees. Since 2012, more than 1.3 million Lebanese people have experienced the positive impacts of USAID’s “almost $200 million investment to improve basic services, including renewal back-up power generation and clean water provision.”
Beyond funding, USAID also works to provide local governments with technical training and resources. Through this work, 270,000 individuals experienced increased earnings through job creation and technical development. USAID predicts that the number of beneficiaries will reach 645,000 by 2022.
Finally, USAID programs in Lebanon provide funding, training and resources to improve economic development. Over the last seven years, $113 million in funding has benefitted more than 20,000 companies, startups and small businesses. Additionally, this assistance has led to the creation of thousands of new jobs and tens of millions of dollars in leveraged funding. By investing in economic development, USAID works to kickstart long-term poverty reduction.
By funding education, local governance and economic development, USAID programs in Lebanon improve the lives of millions of impoverished Lebanese people. The programs provide both short and long-term relief, bolstering Lebanon’s ability to bounce back from decades of economic disruptions.
– Aiden Marina Smith