Tripoli, Lebanon 22 September 2022-- To improve the access to basic services and well-being of host and refugee populations, in 2021 UN-Habitat Lebanon completed nine activities in Tripoli’s Mina and Baddawi municipalities, focused on enhancing safety, recreational spaces, heritage preservation, environmental sustainability and more through funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation of USD 1.5 million.

Today, nearly a year since the project was completed, the interventions are still serving their purpose of enhancing the basic services and living conditions of the host and refugee communities in Mina and Beddawi, Tripoli while bringing people together.

One of Lebanon’s most marginalised cities – Tripoli – is marked by the highest poverty rate in the country. It is home to thousands of Palestinian and Syrian refugees. Spanning from the rehabilitation of football fields and the development of the first inclusive and fully accessible public space in North Lebanon, to the installation of solar and LED lighting networks on a major highway and within neighbourhoods, the activities implemented under this project were derived through an area- and evidence-based approach to ensure that they address the communities’ needs.

Samia, a resident of Beddawi,  who is one of 100,000 beneficiaries of this project told UN-Habitat that, “the neighbourhood was dangerous at night, and I would worry about my daughter going out in the dark but now the neighbourhood is safe because lighting is available all the time.” The three sustainable lighting projects for the 7 kilometre-long Beddawi highway and Jabal el Beddawi neighbourhood and Al Masakan social housing project have contributed to a notable increase in the sense of security amongst citizens residing in the area; increased revenue of small businesses as they are able to stay open for longer hours; and, have decreased theft and car accidents in the area.

Inclusive and accessible public spaces are key to facilitating dialogue and exchange between residents. To make this a reality for all residents of Mina, and Beddawi, the project rehabilitated both municipal football fields. The fields were in a poor, unsafe and unusable condition. Today they are the only fields in these marginalized areas, that can also hold official games at the level of the Lebanese Football Federation. They are now mapped on the official Lebanese football map and will allow thousands of people including children and youth to have a safe place to play and practice sports. “More than 10 official football academies that coach 6- to 18-year-olds use the Mina football field. The youth of Mina needed a safe space to practice and play football to keep them away from the streets,” said Zaher Bourghol, Coach of Ashbal Mina.

Another one of the project’s interventions included the creation of a one-of-a-kind public space, being the first inclusive park in Mina, Tripoli in North Lebanon to all residents and is accessible to people who use wheelchairs, people who are visually impaired, and older persons. “The impact of the public park on the area is huge, before, it was a dump, unsafe and a place for drug abusers and pickpockets. Now the people have a safe breathing space, where they can spend their time with their families,” said Tarek Hamza, who runs Al Dekan, a shop near to the public park. 

Lebanon’s rich traditional heritage is a national trademark. In Mina,  Labban Street is the main street of historic Old Mina and has been a hub for tourism and sightseeing. Before the project’s intervention, the buildings were in poor shape due to lack of maintenance and weathering. To revive this street, UN-Habitat upgraded 19 heritage buildings. This included 62 houses and 15 shops which has directly contributed to enhancing the economic and touristic opportunities for the area. “Nowadays a lot of people in Labban Street are suffering from the financial crisis and cannot rehabilitate their shops or replace their wooden windows or doors. UN-Habitat did an appreciated effort for all of the area’s residents by implementing this project, and revived the heritage value of Labban Street,” said Bechara Yazji, Shop owner and resident of Labban Street.

The project also featured an aspect of environmental sustainability which had two components: reverse vending machines to incentivize recycling and the production and installation of bins and benches made entirely from single use recycled plastics. The 32 benches and bins made of fully recycled materials were installed in the Mina football field and Mina Corniche.

UN-Habitat  together with the Union of al Fayhaa and Development Incorporation installed 6 reverse vending machines that receive aluminum, glass, and plastics for the exchange of incentives—such as, discounts and points that can be redeemed at partner supermarkets.

This project, using a multisectoral and participatory approach, saw transformative change in Mina and Beddawi, Tripoli. To date, the works that were implemented over three years continue to serve the community providing safe and inclusive spaces; recycling solutions; well-lit streets; and, preserved heritage in Labban street.