Post-War Socio-Economic Rehabilitation Programme in Beirut Southern Suburbs
The Beirut Southern Suburbs (BSS) is an area characterized by significant deprivation and absence of social services. It is heavily populated and is witnessing tensions caused by high income poverty and youth unemployment. This is exacerbated by its historic isolation and sectarian schisms. The BSS suffered a significant blow to infrastructure, livelihoods, and identity during the July 2006 War with Israel. It is still in the process of recovery and exists as an area in contrast to an increasingly modernizing and advancing Beirut.
Residents are particularly prone to conflict and violence, mostly triggered by the political impasses that continue between traditional political factions. While the successful national elections that took place in June 2009 are a testament of the desire by Lebanese for peace and stability, the status quo is maintained politically. It is the same state failing to deliver the needs and aspirations of the inhabitants of the BSS. The people’s frustration was clearly observed during the successive demonstrations during the May 7, 2008 conflict (The May Clashes).
Youth in this conflict-prone area constitute a potential source of tensions. Their political affiliations have been shunned by most traditional donors and development actors. However, UNDP has managed to attain important results as an independent and credible partner in this area. It is highly regarded by the residents, the government, and donors alike as a uniquely positioned organization advocating for international development outcomes in a sensitive and difficult area.
Vulnerable groups in the BSS are thus the focus of this project. This is achieved by linking grassroots institutions to local government and national structures, and strengthening the relationship between the residents and their relevant local authorities. Youth, the unemployed, and the poor socio-economic conditions are leading to various social problems including school drop outs, theft, and drug addiction. These are some of the many important issues identified by the local residents as being the most pressing with regards to controlling potential sources of conflict and youth violence.
The BSS is thus being prioritized for conflict and crisis prevention through a community development approach. This includes capacity development initiatives to support the stability of communities, provision of socio-economic development projects aiming at restoring the lives and livelihoods of the vulnerable population, with special focus on women, youth, and war-injured disabled persons.
Achievements & Expected Results
- Youth at risk in BSS mobilized for reduced inter-communal tensions and empowered for peace and development initiatives.
- Livelihoods of vulnerable population with special focus on women, fishermen, war-injured persons and former detainees improved and socio-economic opportunities increased for peace and development.
- Local Governance structures strengthened for inclusive socio-economic development and enhanced inter-communal dialogue.