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Active Programs -- Lebanon

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“The disaster is beyond imagination. For a while you think an earthquake has struck our country. Tens of thousands are homeless, entire villages are wiped out, and the outcome is a shattered country. I urge everyone to be part of Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to restore peace and reconciliation; let us join hands, efforts and resources to pass on a cool cup of water for a thirsty country.”
Dani El Tayar, national director, Habitat for Humanity Lebanon

 

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The July War of 2006 in Lebanon destroyed vital infrastructure and leveled buildings throughout the country, especially in the southern suburbs of Beirut, the Bekaa Valley and southern Lebanon. Nearly 1 million people were displaced internally during the war and more than a year since the conclusion of the conflict, thousands still remain without a shelter of their own. The government of Lebanon estimates that nearly 100,000 homes were damaged during the conflict, and that 11,100 homes were completely destroyed.

The response effort introduced the traditional themes of Habitat for Humanity Lebanon’s work into the disaster response context. The first aim is to provide the means for families whose houses were damaged or destroyed to get back to their homes and villages and on with their lives. The second goal is to solidify peace and civil society by providing opportunities for families and communities of different faiths and viewpoints to come together for a common purpose of reconstruction. Finally, HFH has designed and implemented its interventions in a way that supports the reemergence of the local economy and governance structures so badly shaken during the 34-day conflict. Habitat for Humanity believes that in the reconstruction of the community, homes, socio-economic infrastructure and relationships are all equally vital.

To accomplish these goals, Habitat for Humanity is building upon its already successful model in Lebanon by working alongside and partnering with local nongovernmental and community-based organizations to ensure community involvement and participation. HFH has established and implemented a rapid repair program that enabled beneficiary-driven reconstruction by providing in-field technical consultation and enough financing to secure 40 square meters of adequate living space including a kitchen and bathroom. The program took advantage of existing salvageable structures as well as the tremendous capacity already in place for home construction across much of the southern rural villages of Lebanon. The project allows for very rapid home reconstruction while at the same time providing a vital injection of capital into the local economy. Repairs are quickly coming to a close with more than 410 families served already. In total, HFHL has been able to reach 11 communities with its repair shelter programs with almost everyone responding quite well to HFHL’s ability to operate efficient, fair programs in the disaster response context.

While the majority of families served to date have been through this rapid repair component, HFHL’s response has taken on the look of a portfolio of projects addressing several outstanding gaps in the home recovery process:

• Vocational training: From May through July, HFH sponsored a YMCA Lebanon-led vocational training program seeking to augment the skilled labor for home repair in the south while simultaneously developing new livelihood strategies for farmers who have lost their fields to the unexploded bombs littered throughout the region.

• Technical support and municipal capacity building: In September, HFH kicked off an eight-month-long intervention aimed at providing executable architectural and civil plans, as well as in-field consultation to 400 families whose homes were completely destroyed in the fighting. The program will also build capacity in the municipalities of the region to plan for and respond to any future disasters.

• Waterproofing for the Dahieh (southern suburbs of Beirut): Finally, in November, HFH will be initiating a large-scale waterproofing project for approximately 450 families in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

With much of the response effort completed or well under way, HFHL has begun to focus on its transition strategy and to identify opportunities for future growth that build upon the success of these recent programs. The positive reputation that HFHL developed in the past several months has made it a strong partner for a variety of organizations. Currently, HFHL is investigating the possibilities that partnerships with micro-finance institutions might provide for continued growth.