News by AUN News correspondent
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
You have likely read about the ongoing crisis in Lebanon as the country grapples with severe economic turmoil and hosts over 1 million refugees within its borders. The Lebanese government recently announced a $3.2 billion plan to provide much-needed support for vulnerable local families and refugees. The new initiative aims to assist nearly 900,000 Lebanese citizens living below the poverty line as well as Syrian and Palestinian refugees who have sought safety in Lebanon. With increasing unemployment, inflation, and public debt in Lebanon, many local families struggle to afford basic necessities like food, shelter, and healthcare. The support plan will provide cash assistance, subsidised goods, and improved access to public services for those most in need. While Lebanon’s challenges are immense, this programme offers a glimmer of hope.
Lebanon’s New Social Support Programme: Providing Aid to Those in Need
Lebanon’s government recently launched an ambitious new social support programme aimed at providing aid for vulnerable local families and refugees in the country. The $3.2 billion initiative will offer direct cash assistance, housing subsidies, and other benefits to over 700,000 Lebanese citizens and refugees over the next four years.
The new programme seeks to alleviate extreme poverty and improve living conditions for those most in need. Eligible families and individuals will receive direct cash transfers and subsidies for essentials like food, shelter, and healthcare. The support amounts will vary based on factors such as family size, income, location, and access to public services.
In order to qualify for the programme, applicants must meet certain criteria related to their economic and social conditions. Priority will be given to families with children, disabled people, such as older people, and those with chronic medical conditions. The programme also aims to provide extra assistance for women-headed households and families with multiple dependents.
The social support programme represents Lebanon’s largest-ever poverty reduction initiative. If successful, it could help lift many vulnerable local families and refugees out of destitution, improving their access to basic necessities and enabling a life with greater health, dignity, and stability. However, the programme’s ambitious scope and Lebanon’s ongoing economic crisis pose potential challenges to its implementation and impact. The government will need to ensure efficient, transparent, and equitable delivery of benefits and services to truly make a difference in the lives of those most at risk.
Targeting the Most Vulnerable: Low-Income Families, such as older people, and Disabled
The Lebanese government has allocated $3.2 billion to support vulnerable groups across the country, including low-income families, such as older people, and disabled people.
- Low-income families: Nearly half of Lebanon’s population lives below the poverty line. The initiative will provide cash assistance to families earning less than $4,000 per month to help meet basic needs like food, shelter, and medical care.
- such as older people and disabled: Lebanon has a growing ageing population, with over 10% over 65 years of age. The plan allocates funds for home care, medical expenses, and other critical services for older citizens and people with disabilities.
To implement the programme, the government will:
- Expand the existing cash transfer programme to reach over 700,000 families in need. Cash assistance will increase from an average of $27 to $63 per family member each month.
- Invest in home-based care and medical services for over 50,000 older citizens and disabled individuals. This includes offering subsidies for caretakers, nurses, medical supplies, and other necessities to help people remain in their homes.
- Improve accessibility infrastructure like wheelchair ramps, braille signs, and audible traffic signals to enable disabled people to live more independently.
- Offer vocational training, job opportunities, and small business loans for caretakers and family members to generate income. This aims to alleviate financial difficulties and supplement government assistance.
With a large segment of the population in need of support, this initiative is an important step towards building a more equitable and just society in Lebanon that protects its most vulnerable groups. By providing essential resources and services to those unable to fully support themselves, the programme can have a meaningful impact across communities.
Supporting Refugees and Ensuring Their Basic Needs Are Met
To support both refugees and local families in need, Lebanon’s plan allocates $3.2 billion for initiatives including:
Providing Shelter and Basic Necessities
- The government will work with NGOs to provide temporary shelter, food, water, and basic healthcare for vulnerable groups. Tents, prefabricated housing units, and cash assistance for rent will help meet essential shelter needs.
- Essential non-food items like blankets, mattresses, kitchen sets, and hygiene products will also be distributed to ensure refugees and locals in need have basic necessities for daily life.
Access to Healthcare and Education
- Primary healthcare services will be available for free or at a subsidised cost. This includes access to medications, checkups, vaccinations, and treatment for chronic illnesses.
- Educational opportunities will be provided for children, including access to public schools, temporary learning spaces, school supplies, and transportation assistance. Scholarships and vocational training for youth and adults will also be offered.
Economic Opportunity and Livelihood Support
- Cash assistance programmes will provide money for food, transportation, and other essential costs of living. This helps stimulate local economies while supporting vulnerable groups.
- Job opportunities, skills training, and micro finance loans will be available to help refugees and locals generate income and become self-reliant. This includes programmes targeted at women, youth, and entrepreneurs.
Ensuring Safety and Security
- The government aims to provide protection and legal services for vulnerable groups, including refugees, women, children, disabled people, and such as older people. Initiatives will prevent exploitation, abuse, and violence.
- Programmes for conflict resolution and peace building will bring together Lebanese citizens and refugees to promote social cohesion and stability. Outreach campaigns will also aim to combat xenophobia and discrimination.
By addressing essential needs like shelter, healthcare, education, and economic opportunity, Lebanon’s plan will provide humanitarian support for vulnerable groups in a way that also strengthens communities. With cooperation between the government, NGOs, and citizens, refugees and local families in need can live safely and with dignity.
How Funds Will Be Distributed and Monitored
The Lebanese government has devised a meticulous plan to distribute the $3.2 billion in funds from the initiative and ensure oversight of the process.
Distribution of Funds
The funds will be disbursed in a transparent manner through several channels. A large portion, approximately $2 billion, will be distributed directly to vulnerable local families in the form of electronic food vouchers and cash assistance to help cover basic necessities. This includes both Lebanese citizens and Syrian and Palestinian refugees.
Another $1 billion will be allocated to fund and expand existing social programmes that provide healthcare, education, and shelter for those in need. The remaining $200 million will be used to support local businesses and economic development in order to stimulate job growth. All transactions will be tracked through a digital platform to reduce opportunities for fraud or misuse of funds.
Monitoring and Oversight
Multiple measures have been put in place to monitor the initiative’s progress and proper usage of finances. An independent auditor will review all fund distributions and expenditures. Lebanese ministries, UN agencies, and NGOs will coordinate to verify recipients of assistance and services. And a task force has been assembled to evaluate the initiative’s impact, address any issues, and make recommendations for improvements to efficiency and effectiveness.
The Lebanese government recognises the necessity of accountability and transparency for the success of this initiative. Close supervision of the distribution and use of funds will help ensure aid reaches those most in need and has the maximum benefit for both citizens and refugees in Lebanon. Overall, this $3.2 billion plan has the potential to greatly relieve the suffering of vulnerable populations and boost the country’s economy if executed properly under watchful guidance. With the world’s support and compassion, there is hope for Lebanon’s humanitarian crisis.
The Role of International Donors and Ensuring Accountability
The Lebanese government will require significant funding from international donors and organisations to implement its ambitious $3.2 billion plan. International partners have already pledged hundreds of millions in donations, but close monitoring and accountability will be needed to ensure these funds are used properly and effectively.
Oversight and Transparency
International donors must demand a high level of transparency from the Lebanese government on how donated funds are allocated and spent. Strict oversight and auditing procedures should be put in place, with regular reports on key performance indicators and progress shared publicly. Anti-corruption measures will be essential to curbing the misuse of funds. The government’s plan aims to bypass sectarian political divides, but corruption remains widespread in Lebanon.
Direct Funding and Monitoring
Some international donors may prefer to fund specific programmes directly rather than donate to the government fund. This approach allows for closer monitoring and guidance of projects. Donors can place their own auditors and programme managers to oversee daily operations. They can also tie funding to the achievement of key targets and pull funding if those targets are not met. This model may be most appropriate for larger infrastructure and public service projects.
Ensuring Aid Reaches Those Most in Need
A key goal of the plan is to support vulnerable groups, including both Lebanese citizens and refugees. Donors must advocate for and verify that their funding is being directed to programmes and services that benefit these groups. Cash assistance and subsidies should be distributed based on need, not political or sectarian affiliations. Funding for essential services like healthcare, education, and shelter must be allocated to reach underserved communities hosting both Lebanese and refugees.
With billions of dollars in international funding at stake, accountability and oversight will determine whether Lebanon’s ambitious plan succeeds or fails. Close monitoring of donations can help redirect funds away from corruption and ensure aid reaches those most in need. Partnership and transparency between donors and the government will be essential to navigating Lebanon’s complex political system and upholding the promise to support its most vulnerable populations.
As Lebanon continues to grapple with economic struggles and a refugee crisis, this new support plan is desperately needed and provides a lifeline for many. With over 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon and many Lebanese local families living in poverty, ensuring access to food, healthcare, education, and shelter is critical. While $3.2 billion may seem like a large sum, it amounts to just over $500 per person for the 2 million intended beneficiaries.
Every small act of humanity matters in times of hardship. By launching this aid initiative, Lebanon has taken an important step to uphold the dignity of all people within its borders. One can only hope that the international community will follow suit and continue to provide Lebanon with the resources and funding required to sustainably support vulnerable populations. Together, we must help ensure that no one is left behind.