Enhancing relationship between Palestinian gatherings and Lebanese local authorities
The village of Darb el Sim is located in South Lebanon and accommodates for parts of Ain el Helwe camp and two of its adjacent gatherings or areas ‘Jabal el Halib’ and ‘Hay el Sohoun’ as well as another gathering ‘Seerob’. In the middle of all these areas, a 400m open sewage and rain water stream passes in the village and by the gathering ‘Seerob’, receiving untreated sewage from the surrounding and flooding into Ain el Helwe Camp and its Adjacent Areas. The situation has most recently worsened with the arrival of thousands of Palestinian and Syrian refugees from Syria to the gatherings, where currently no public or private institutions or agencies address the increased pressure on basic urban services and infrastructure networks.
- As a result, consensus was reached among participants to join their efforts and strengthen coordination to solve this problem, in addition to other needed joint interventions that were also identified.
- Promoted municipal engagement in Palestinian gatherings especially in response to the accommodation of Palestinian and Syrian refugees displaced from Syria
In line with the general situation in Lebanon, the municipality does not have sufficient resources to implement development projects or provide basic urban services in Palestinian gatherings; neither does UNRWA which provides these services only within the boundaries of official camps. Furthermore, the lack of communication and coordination mechanisms for service delivery between representatives of the Palestinian communities living in the gathering and camp on the one hand and the municipality of Darb el Sim on the other has hindered solutions to this problem. In addition to being a source of environmental risk to both Lebanese and Palestinian communities alike, the situation contributed to raising tensions between the neighboring communities and with the local authorities.
UNDP, through a joint programme with UN-HABITAT, identified the problem through meetings with each group of local actors. The programme has undertaken the initiative to bring these main actors together to discuss their pressing needs through a series of meetings and field visits between the mayor, representatives of popular committees in Seerob gathering and Ain el Helwe Camp and Adjacent Areas as well as UNRWA field officers. As a result, consensus was reached among participants to join their efforts and strengthen coordination to solve this problem, in addition to other needed joint interventions that were also identified. In a unique step of its kind, the municipality has already completed works to install sewage disposal and rain water system in the open channel, in coordination with the local Palestinian communities and through a grant from UNDP. This has contributed to enhancing the pattern of relationship between the municipality and the Palestinian communities. The mayor has participated in a launching event carried out by the programme in Ain el Helwe Camp, where he was welcomed by the popular and local committees and thanked for the municipality’s intervention to improving living conditions of Palestinian communities living in Darb el Sim. Today, the municipality has promised to carry out additional infrastructure projects in the Adjacent Areas of Ain el Helwe Camp through financial support from UNDP, which will start in July 2013
Improved living environment in Darbe el Sim village, Seerob gathering, Ain el Helwe Camp and Adjacent Areas through joint interventions;
Enhanced communication and coordination between actors, which did not exist before;
Promoted municipal engagement in Palestinian gatherings especially in response to the accommodation of Palestinian and Syrian refugees displaced from Syria