- Capital: Beirut
- Date of independence: 1943
- Population: 6.24 million
- Urbanization: 87.8%
- Life expectancy: 77.6 years
- Unemployment rate: 21%
- Population living below poverty line: 28.6%
Find more country facts on: CIA The World Factbook –Lebanon
- Date when Habitat started working in the country: 2001
- Individuals served in FY17: 5,125
- Volunteers hosted in FY17: 18
- Housing solutions: Rehabs, incremental, repairs, market development
Habitat for Humanity Lebanon
Since 2001, Habitat for Humanity Lebanon has reached across economic and social divisions to identify, understand and confront the causes and realities of inadequate shelter throughout Lebanon. Habitat Lebanon strives to fulfil its mission by building, rebuilding, renovating and rehabilitating houses through partnership models to reach the families in need of housing services across the country.
The housing need in Lebanon
From 1975 until the early 1990s, civil war in Lebanon destroyed not only lives, homes and infrastructure, but also its fragile society. An estimated one million people were displaced (internally and externally) by fighting, and hundreds of thousands were injured, killed or disappeared.
The damage to property alone was around US$25 billion. Many more homes and lives were destroyed in the July–August 2006 war which also displaced one million people and damaged more than 100,000 houses. Reconstruction from these wars left Lebanon heavily in debt, and continued political unrest has prevented its economy from recovering fully. Unemployment is more than 21 percent and many jobs pay very low wages, despite the high cost of living, which traps families in a cycle of poverty. Rapid urbanization due to displacement and economic deprivation has resulted in extremely poor living conditions in Beirut and other cities.
In March 2011 Lebanon opened its doors to the Syrians following the outbreak of war in Syria. Years later there is no end in sight for the violence in Syria and the presence of more than 1.2 million Syrian refugees (both registered and unregistered) is increasingly putting pressure on the already stressed economy, infrastructure and society of Lebanon. This has highly impacted the Lebanese vulnerable groups who, as a result, are getting poorer.
Habitat’s contribution in Lebanon
Habitat Lebanon addresses the housing need through various initiatives, including a housing microfinance project in partnership with a local microfinance institution, a program focused on helping orphans and vulnerable groups, and a housing program designed to help Palestinians.
Housing microfinance program
Responding to the widespread but unmet demand from low-income families for affordable housing, Habitat Lebanon runs a housing microfinance program in partnership with a local microfinance institution (Al Majmoua), offering microloans to people who would otherwise not have access to credit. Current homes are in need of restoration — from waterproofing to providing proper sanitation for kitchens and bathrooms — or are new houses under construction. This program also provides construction technical assistance.
Orphans and vulnerable groups
Habitat Lebanon works in partnership with local NGOs that focus on vulnerable families to find and address the most urgent housing problems throughout the country.
The families in this program are mostly headed by widows, single parents, have disabled members or suffer from financial and social burdens. Home repairs for these families include installing proper sanitation for kitchens and bathrooms, reinforcing unsafe structures through column installation, and waterproofing or replacing roofs. Families repay small, subsidized loans, with repayment schedules adjusted to their financial circumstances, and contribute volunteer labor as construction allows. Habitat also conducts a series of trainings for homeowners or potential beneficiaries in financial literacy.
Disaster Response Program Examples
- Housing Program for Palestinians
The presence of Palestinians in Lebanon dates back to the Nakba Day in 1948. A study conducted by the American University of Beirut and United Nations Relief and Works Agency in 2010 reports that 425,640 Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Lebanon.
Many Palestinians in Lebanon live in dark, damp and overcrowded camps or informal settlements where construction and home rehabilitation is difficult and unaffordable for the average family. With the help of local Palestinian partners, Habitat Lebanon identifies families in need of housing aid and intervenes to rehabilitate their homes. Priority is given to people with disabilities, woman-headed families, the elderly, large families consisting of seven or more members and homes with faltering structures that are deemed dangerous to their inhabitants.
- School rehabs and repairs
The project included renovation of six schools in Aley and El Chouf regions and was funded by the official development aid of the Slovak Republic. The developmental goal of the project was to contribute to provision of elementary education for children from Syrian refugee communities in Lebanon, with an emphasis on public schools, and enhance the capacity of schools to accommodate targeted groups. The project included the purchase of new furniture and equipment, has provided an enhanced learning environment for 3,472 Lebanese and Syrian children.
- Lights for Syrian refugees
Habitat Lebanon and Habitat Netherlands worked together to distribute 2,016 portable WakaWaka solar lighting panels among Syrian refugees in Lebanon and other vulnerable groups of locals and refugees in Bekaa and the South of Lebanon. The Solar lights are being used to help refugees continue their daily activities in their camps or place of residence where electricity isn’t available all the time.
Meet a Habitat family
In a small house in the village of Qsaybeh, Afaf lives with her daughter. The young girl was born with a pelvic defect and requires costly medical care. Afaf ’s home was built many years ago and is equipped with a Turkish-style toilet, which makes using the bathroom extremely difficult for someone with a pelvic defect.
Habitat helped rebuild Afaf´s bathroom and its infrastructure. The house is now safer, cleaner and more practical for the family. Another positive surprise was that Afaf ’s community saw the renovation of her house and offered to help her in the project. As her income is very low, they all chipped in so she could pay back the small loan she took out to pay for the renovation.
What you can do
You can help Lebanese families improve their living conditions by taking one or more of the following actions:
Donate: Go to habitat.org/donate and designate your gift to Habitat Lebanon.
Tithe: All affiliate tithe gifts are sent internationally to serve families outside of the United States. To support the work of Habitat LEBANON, please send your tithe to: Habitat for Humanity International P.O. Box 6598 Americus, GA 31709-3498
To learn more about Habitat projects in Lebanon or in other parts of the region, please contact us.