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Impact of Beirut Explosion on Economic Activities Located in the Affected Neighborhoods - Socio-Economic Impact Assessment

May 31, 2021

On August 4th, 2020, a massive explosion in the Beirut port rocked the city, causing massive destruction, hundreds of deaths, and thousands of injuries. In order to effectively design relief, recovery, and reform programs in response to the disaster, a digital socio-economic impact assessment (SEIA) was conducted, surveying both households and businesses. Within a few weeks of the blast, the survey received over 5,000 responses from households and over 3,000 responses from businesses.  The survey used an online platform to gather information, as most resident families and businesses had vacated their homes and work premises following the blast, and could not thus be reached through regular field work. The approach was advantageous as the online survey was optional and self-administrated, compared to in-person surveys, which were abundant immediately after the explosion leading to assessment fatigue.

The assessment primarily focuses on the impact of the blast, however, it managed to capture the economic and social consequences of the ongoing crises, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis and the political turmoil. The survey went beyond the immediate vicinity of the explosion to cover neighbourhoods further away, that were equally affected by the far-reaching impact of the blast. The vast majority of businesses located near the blast experience physical damage. Those that are located further away sustain indirect impact due to damages to the port, disruption of the supply chains, decreased demand, increased unemployment, and many other factors.  Approximately half of all businesses surveyed remained closed in the weeks that followed the explosion, while the majority of those that did remain open were operating at partial capacity.

This report presents the findings from the business socio-economic impact assessment. The research findings allow for a greater understanding of which sectors were impacted most, how were businesses most affected, what are their greatest needs, and how hopeful they are regarding the future outlook.

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