An Urban Suburb with the Capacities of a Village: The Social Stability Context in the Coastal Chouf AreaDec 21, 2017
A new conflict analysis report by the UNDP “Peacebuilding in Lebanon” project, funded by UKDFID introduces the conflict context of this largely urbanized area, which relies heavily on government employment, industry and tourism. Its resident population is predominantly Sunni, as a large percentage of the registered Christian population was displaced during the war.
Key issues fueling tension are strongly tied to national and strategic problems. A rapid process of unplanned urbanization, in the absence of socio-economic developmental policies and equitable social services, has implications for existing infrastructure and feeds sectarian and political tensions. Major environmental challenges, namely those caused by the Jiyeh power plant, the Siblin cement factory and the Naameh landfill, remain a source of tension with a potential risk of escalation. The Syrian refugee population, which is limited in size, is only one component of a larger incoming population from outside the area, and seems to have developed better relationships with the host community than in other areas in Lebanon.
In terms of conflict dynamics, the report highlights the stabilizing impact of the limited electoral utility of sectarian-based mobilization in the region, convergence of interests of key political actors in the area, the conflict mitigation role of local notables, and similarity in background between incoming Syrian refugees and the local host population. Although the region’s geostrategic location and proximity to Beirut facilitates economic opportunities and makes it attractive for housing projects, industrial investment and urbanization remain segregated from the local context. The proposed administrative division of Naameh/Haret Al-Naameh and Damour/Saadiyat into two sectarian segregated communities is another potential divider.
To mitigate the impact of above dividers and contribute positively to conflict issues, the report recommends broad and national level interventions with respect to the environmental and urbanization issues, particularly agreement on sound and sustainable solutions to the environmental crises impacting the area, adequate urban plans, and incentivizing and directing the establishment of eco-industrial parks. Partnership with active Lebanese youth in the area, as well as support of community-led Syrian initiatives to bolster their positive role in the community, is recommended and could serve as a model of grassroots organization for other areas.
You can download the report on the following link: http://bit.ly/2kUQH4U