The Beqaa’ Valley houses more than half a million Syrian refugees. Many of them live in so-called informal tented settlements. These settlements are often founded and developed ad hoc. They lack basic service levels, such as electricity, clean water, drainage and waste disposal. The tents themselves provide little shelter to the extreme elements of this high-altitude inland region.
The valley is cramped in between the mountain range of Mount Lebanon to the west and the Syrian border to the east, a region which continues to experience large scale violence between rebels and pro-Assad forces ever since armed conflict began in 2011. Before the influx of refugees the small strip of land already housed half a million Lebanese residents. Syrians and Lebanese alike are trying to find ways of living together and of the land in the face of the fast changing demographic and social landscape.
VNG International together with the municipalities of Almere and The Hague assists the Lebanese communities with the huge pressure on their resources and services, as well as on their social fabric. Dutch municipal staff share their expertise and experience with their Lebanese colleagues on how to effectively organize their services to their community, such as waste management. They develop strategies and step-by-step plans and encourage linkages between local municipalities and with the private sector to spur local economic growth and create jobs for Lebanese and Syrians alike.
Ultimately the efforts should lead to increased resilience of Lebanese host communities when faced with sudden social crises or big impact changes. The Local Government Resilience Programme for Lebanon is sponsored by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is a cooperative effort of VNG International and the municipalities of Almere and The Hague.