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SOCIAL ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN LEBANON

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POVERTY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Ministry of Social Affairs works with the High Relief Committee and the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR). Efforts to increase productivity of the poor are limited. A safety net operated mainly by NGOs (national and international NGOs such as Caritas, World Vision, Save the Children) provides an extensive poverty effects reducer.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

There is no Lebanese national policy to combat the effects of poverty. Emphasis is placed instead on addressing poverty's causes. Policies in this regard include the following:

- Increase in wages which increases inflation and does not in any case cover past increases in cost of living;

- Stabilizing of national currency and limiting hyperinflation;

- Use of indirect taxation on selected goods while reducing the income tax to a flat 10% rate.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

Several projects for rural and peripheric areas are underway executed by different ministries, with the collaboration of UN Agencies and other International Organisations. These projects aim at creating an economic bases for local community groups which encourage them to stay in their areas of origin. Examples are the Integrated Project of Hermel - Baalbeck, undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture and the project aiming at return of the displaced and the creation of economic projects for the returning people, undertaken by the Ministry of Displaced.

Status 

There are no precise recent studies on poverty in Lebanon, but the social situation in the country continued to be very difficult after the war. According to trade unions, salaries in 1995 ought to have been increased by 90% to recover the level of the early 1990s. The unemployment level is estimated to be 10%.

The effort to return people displaced during the war to their homes and lands will have a positive impact on the poverty situation, as increased sources of income are added per family.

Challenges

The main activities mentioned above have had little effect in improving the social conditions of the poor. The environmental impacts of the above policies have been to encourage unsustainable real estate construction which has put additional strains on access to clean water, healthy air, sanitary networks etc.

In 1993, the Ministry of Social Affairs started reactivating social services centres in all regions of the country under an approach of decentralisation of social welfare services to city and town quarters and to villages. In the Social Development Training Centre, 52 young persons (84% of them being women) are being trained to become auxiliary social workers.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

The initiative of the Government to establish higher vocational and technical education institutions is a positive step towards alleviating poverty. The first such institute will be established in Saida.

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Technical and Vocational Education are developing training programs for health inspectors.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies

No information is available.  

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

 

 

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This information is based on Lebanon's submission to the 5th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: June 1997.

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DEMOGRAPHICS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Ministry of Social Affairs is principally responsible for demographic policies. There is a Central Census Department at the presidency of the Council of Ministers and the Ministries of Interior, Displaced, Public Health, Education and Housing all participated in the collection of data. Specific non-governmental organizations have limited programmes in this area.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

No information is available. 

Status 

Current estimates of population in Lebanon are built on estimates developed from earlier studies. Although there is an adequate level of human and technology resources available in Government there has been no census since 1932, the results of which were updated during World War II by the French. Since then, national demographic data have taken the form of estimates and projections. Between 1994 and 1996 a large survey, with a base of 70,000 persons, was conducted by the Ministry of Social Affairs in cooperation with UNFPA. This survey looked at population distribution characteristics based on indicators such as economic, educational, and marriage. This survey was the first effort of its kind. It is believed that population densities vary from 1,610 person/km2 in the coast, 440 person/km2 in Mount Lebanon, and 260 person/km2 in the South, to 120 person/km2 in Bekaa. Lebanon suffers from overpopulation in the coastal area, mainly in Greater Beirut Area, which has grave impacts on the environment, such as overuse of land resources, pollution of air, water and soil.

After the permanent cease fire in November 1990, the results of the long war became painfully clear: 90,000 families had been displaced with an average of 5.7 persons in each. Displacement caused imbalance in population distribution, causing overpopulation in urban areas, while most areas from which the displaced fled, particularly rural areas, became totally empty. Besides, agriculture was the first income generating sector for the displaced persons in their previous areas where 55% of all households were farmers and 87% of all working women were farmers. An immense number of people lost their source of livelihood, causing poverty and immigration. This led to degradation in agricultural lands, productivity and forests. Moreover, families and communities previously settled in geographically and confessional defined areas have been scattered, causing a serious break down in critical social support networks.

The Ministry of Displaced was created in 1992 to preserve and grant rights to citizens in order to guarantee the protection and the return of the displaced according to all relevant national and international laws. The Central Fund for the Displaced was established to fund and rehabilitate local infrastructure works of the areas of displacement. The Ministry of Displaced coordinates rehabilitation of the social sectors and reactivation of economic activities through the UNDP Project of Reintegration for the Socio-Economic Rehabilitation of the Displaced.

Challenges

The priority to the Government is the physical reconstruction of infrastructure and housing and the evacuation of illegally occupied buildings. The total outlays until March 1996 amounted to US$ 391 million. By the end of March 1996, 41,446 illegally occupied housing units had been vacated. Each household received a sum of money either to rebuild and/or restore his former house or rent a decent residence for the concerned family. The cost of vacating was US$ 74 million by mid 1996. Return needs are not limited to vacating houses, but economical, educational and health networks need to be rebuild in the former war zones, in a way to make return permanent. A sum of US$ 320 million is needed for these projects.

Unfortunately, the cease fire of November 1990, did not put a permanent halt to displacement. There are still community groups in the South of Lebanon who are constantly exposed to military and economic pressures and vulnerable to armed attacks. These Lebanese have been forced to flee their homes in massive numbers several times since 1990. In April 1996, thousands of families left their areas as a result of military attacks. The resulted general loss was estimated more than US$ 500 million. There is a High Relief Commission that is concerned with the people who are displaced as a result of military attack. Rural areas in general and displaced areas in particular suffer from lack of integrated planning that would be sustainable and make the return of the displaced permanent.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies

No information is available.  

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

The Ministry of Displaced in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Education, the EU, UN agencies and NGOs is implementing income generating programs in former war zones in order to enable people to stay in their areas. Several projects worked on the rehabilitation of agricultural training centres and water networks that were damaged during the war and give loans to farmers to renew their agriculture, repair terraces and irrigation networks. Schools were reconstructed to receive returning people.

 

 

 

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This information is based on Lebanon's submission to the 5th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: June 1997.

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HEALTH

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Ministry of Health (MoH) is responsible for the public sector side of health care. It receives support from the national budget (4-6% of total National budget on average). Approximately $100 million have been requested from the Friends of Lebanon Conference for primary health care expansion, hospital rehabilitation and new equipment. Construction of several hospitals is underway in rural areas, mainly in the North and in the Bekaa area.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

No information is available. 

Status 

There is uneven coverage of health service in Lebanon. Private sector hospitals account for 95% of health care, with an oversupply of services, while public health care is under-staffed and under-equipped. Most top quality specialized care is concentrated in and around Beirut. There are 760 local clinics, 80% of which are run by NGOs and CBOs.

In principle, the national system in place for health services is for supply of these services to the whole of the population. This has not materialized, although health costs have been increasing drastically -- two-fold between 1989 and 1992. Preventive programmes were initiated for very basic diseases such as measles, polio, etc. Programmes related to health problems derived from environmental pollution are still in infancy stages. The main emphasis is on the effects of toxic and hazardous wastes imported from Europe. Health problems due to such sources as motor vehicles, power plants, industrial point sources, and ground water contamination are still tackled through ad hoc planning. A legitimate assessment of the current situation cannot be presented due to lack of field monitoring of sources and the absence of health registries documenting the true scope of related causes and effects.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

In 1996, a National Committee for health and security at home, at work and on the road was created to inform the public and to promote security through media campaigns and other initiatives.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies  

No information is available.

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

The Ministry of Health in cooperation with the World Bank, WHO and UNICEF is introducing a primary health care programme in the National Health System to all of the population. Costs for the programme are $33 million.

 

 

 

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This information is based on Lebanon's submission to the 5th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: June 1997.

Click here to go to the Health and health-related statistical information from the World Health Organization.

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EDUCATION

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

Among Government organs, the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture and Upper Education, Ministry of Agriculture, and a few municipalities are responsible for education. The "Centre du Development et du Recherche Pedagogique (CDRP)" is the main national body to prepare studies and formulate the educational framework and scholaristic programs. It is directly linked to the Ministry of Education. Non-Government actors include NGOs, CBOs, and others in the private sector. UNDP, UNICEF, and UNESCO collaborate with bilateral donors in some cases.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

An environmental education strategy has been prepared which identifies ways of integrating environment at all levels of education (primary, secondary, university). The strategy stresses incorporation of environmental issues into all subject matter, rather than teaching separate environment courses. This is a joint effort between NGOs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Environment, UNESCO and UNDP.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

Environmental Education has also been integrated in the Kindergarten level in the program which has been used as a demonstration for the new national curriculum to be adopted by the year 2000.

Status

Education is freely accessible to the poor in the country at all levels of education. The national development plan has earmarked rehabilitation of government schools as well as development of the educational systems (schools and universities) where many poor areas currently lack either educational facilities, human resources, or both.

Among Lebanon's accomplishments:

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies  

No information is available.

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

 

HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

Within the government structure, the Council of Ministers, the General Directorate of Urban Planning, the Ministry of Public Works, and individual municipalities work on settlement issues. The private sector includes conglomerate Real Estate Companies: SOLIDERE, ELISSAR, and LINOR. There are also NGOs seeking to counter unsustainable construction (with little effect).

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

Before the war of 1975, the benefits of economic development were concentrated in the capital area around Beirut, the Zahle area, with its rich agriculture and agro-processing, and, to a lesser extent, the coastal zone of Tripoli and Saida. Thus, Beirut accounted for 50% of the population and over 65% of economic activity. The war resulted in decentralization and multi-polarization of the economy and human settlements.

Challenges

The principal problem now is that human settlements are currently being undertaken by private sector entities where human resources and technological capabilities are high but are oriented towards profit making with little regard to environmental sustainability. These groups are financed through over-the-counter shares, direct investment, and stock market trading.

The resettlement of those displaced during the war is of national importance. The end of the war redirected economic activity towards the capital and its neighbouring coast once Beirut became again the most likely place to find a job and a good education. This back-and-forth development has put great strains on infrastructure (water supply and waste water disposal) in addition to heavy strains urban air quality in the capital. Since the end of the war, ad hoc real estate development in and around Beirut and in Mount Lebanon has become rampant, and this has been a major contributor to environmental degradation. Zoning laws instituted in the 1950s and 1960s are bypassed or ignored through corruption in the system, and green spaces mandated in zoning are rarely preserved.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies  

No information is available.

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

 

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This information is based on Lebanon's submission to the 5th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997.

For information related to human settlements and refugees, you may access the UNHCR Country Index by clicking here:

Click here to access "BEST PRACTICES FOR HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: MIDDLE EAST"

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