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Lebanon – Urban Issues
|(2014)||65/187||Inequality adjusted Human Development Index rank|
|(2015)||17.04 %||Youth population (15-24)|
|(2015)||0.86%||Population Growth Rate|
|(2010- 2015)||3.18%||Urbanization Growth Rate|
|(2005)||53.10%||Proportion of urban population living in slum are|
Key Urban Issues
Lebanon has for decades witnessed a rapid and uncontrolled urban growth and sprawl. With limited planning regulations in place or enforced, the urban areas are covering increasingly large areas, at the same time urban disparities has grown. New constructions are massively increasing especially at the coastal zone, where the majority of the Lebanese population resides, contributing to the uncontrolled urban expansion (CDR, 2005).
While the cities, and especially the capital Beirut, have flourishing high end districts, the urban divide and inequality have only grown deeper. Only in the metropolitan area of Beirut, there were 24 slums/impoverished poor neighborhoods before the current crisis hosting 20% of the population (Fawaz and Peillen, 2003). UN-Habitat estimated that the ‘slum’ to urban population in Lebanon was around 50% in the year 2001 (UN-Habitat, 2010).
A notable change in poverty indicators was noted between 1995 and 2004 with a decrease in both the households living in extreme poverty (from 7% till 5%) and those living in relative poverty (from 28% till 18%) (MOSA and UNDP, 2004). However, with the Syrian crisis, the poverty levels has again risen. The poorest areas have also experienced a significant increase of population, with some neighborhoods experiencing up to a doubling of the population with Syrian refugees. The Palestine Refugee camps and gatherings have also experienced a significant population increase because of the influx of Syrian refugees and these areas provide only scarce affordable housing options.
The planning systems are to a little extent equipped to consider measures to mitigate the urban divide. The lack of local planning and cross sectorial master plans hinders any absorption capacity of the increasing urban population. The service systems have over the years of the civil war become increasingly deficient and have not been systematically addressed since. This is further exacerbated by a fragmented service provision and planning system. As a result, while two thirds of the population is connected to sewerage networks only 8% is treated and 50% of the water is lost in the networks. Additionally, the national average power supply lies at only 18.3 hours per day. The poor services, lack of planning and heavy reliance on private transportation – Lebanon has the second highest person-to-car rate in the world – has a dramatically negative impact on the environment and health of urban citizens. This has been further exacerbated by the Syrian crisis and the massive rise of population.