The UN-Habitat country office in Lebanon was initiated in late 2006. As the country has faced two large scale crises - the 2006 July-War on Lebanon, and the Syrian Refugee Crisis - the programme steered most of its activities to focus on responding to emerging issues through housing reconstruction, shelter provision, basic services upgrading while also laying the foundation for long term sustainable solutions. The projects of UN-Habitat in Lebanon is aligned along specific key focus areas.
Municipal Empowerment and Resilience Project (MERP)
The Municipal Empowerment and Resilience Project is a joint initiative by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). The project is being implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities (MoIM) and funded by the European Union (EU), through its Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis. The project aims to strengthen the long-term resilience of subnational authorities in Lebanon as well as that of host communities and displaced persons affected by the crisis.
Abjad Centre - Improving Human Security Through Community-Led Neighbourhood Upgrading and Economic Empowerment of Vulnerable Refugee and Host Communities
Abjad Centre, once known as “Cinema Al Andalos,” is a welcoming and functional community centre accessed by thousands of residents of the Jabal Mohsen and Tebbaneh neighbourhoods: both from the refugee and host communities. The Centre provides those who access it with a multitude of opportunities for personal growth through life skills workshops and vocational training, self-expression through art, theatre and intercultural dialogue and access to an array of income-generating activities especially for women and youth and much more.
Neighbourhood Profiles of Disadvantaged Areas
Since the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis in 2011, Lebanon has hosted a large number of Syrian refugees, many of whom are located alongside other vulnerable non-Lebanese and poor Lebanese in urban settings that were already stressed before the crisis onset. In a long-standing national context of scarce data, combined with ever-growing pressure to maximize efficiencies in intervention funding, there is an urgent need for reliable multisectoral and spatialized information.
Such holistic, area-based data can support municipalities and other state and non-state entities to mitigate vulnerabilities for all residents living together in an area and for reducing community tensions, such as host-refugee ones. UN-Habitat-UNICEF neighbourhood profiles offer such a springboard for moving towards sustainable development, shedding light on how relatively fixed built environments and relatively mobile social dimensions interface with each other in specific contexts.
Housing Rehabilitation in Greater Beirut City
The Beirut Port explosion of 4 August 2020 resulted in a devastating loss of life, injury, and the destruction of vast tracts of urban fabric within Greater Beirut, particularly within the municipalities of Beirut and Bourj Hammoud. Vast building and housing stock were damaged – at varying levels – ranging from minor repairs, substantial repairs, structural repairs, and some beyond repair.
It is estimated that more than 300,000 people were directly impacted by the blast, including 60,000 families whose homes were damaged, with thousands displaced due to being evacuated following severe structural damages to their homes.
Beirut Housing Rehabilitation and Cultural Heritage and Creative Industries Recovery
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) has been identified as a potential implementing partner for the project entitled “Beirut Housing Rehabilitation and Cultural Heritage and Creative Industries Recovery Project” through funding from the Lebanon Financial Facility (LFF) that is under administration of the World Bank.
The proposed project addresses housing rehabilitation needs in the areas affected by the Beirut Port explosion, while providing immediate emergency support to affected cultural organizations and practitioners in Beirut. The project is structured around four areas including: i) the rehabilitation of severely damaged buildings that have been directly impacted by the blast and has a heritage value; ii) technical assistance for rental support; iii) support to cultural organizations and practitioners through the provision of grants for cultural production; and iv) project management and capacity building
Support for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of most vulnerable urban areas in Beirut impacted by the port explosion
The 4 August 2020 Beirut Port explosion caused widespread destruction to homes, businesses, infrastructure, and disrupted economic activity. It also struck the vibrant, cultural heart of Beirut, recognized for its social and cultural identity with a historical built environment embedding a concentration of cultural landmarks, heritage buildings, restaurants, bars and other social spaces that attracted both tourists and residents alike.
In March 2021, through funding from the Embassy of Japan in Lebanon, UN-Habitat initiated a holistic project for post-explosion recovery and reconstruction in the most vulnerable areas impacted by the explosion.
Regional Technical Offices (RTOs)
Regional Technical Offices (RTOs) were established by UN-Habitat in 2007 with the aim to empower Unions of Municipalities (UoMs) in emergency response, planning, and development, and specifically to support reconstruction and development in Lebanon. RTOs consist of qualified staff including engineers, architects, social workers, GIS experts and others; depending on needs established under the framework of Article 122 of Legislative Decree no. 118/1977, which states that, “the engineering unit in the Union shall be in charge of certain tasks on behalf of member municipalities, including: assisting in the approval of applications for construction permits, preparing any required technical studies and consultations, preparing the specifications of the supplies, works and services, and developing plans.”