Lebanon: Hygiene kits improve living conditions for Syrian refugees

refugee children
Refugee children from Syria in a Palestinian gathering in Lebanon. (Photo: UNDP in Lebanon)

A Palestinian refugee from Syria and mother of two children, Rim investigates the contents of a large, blue pail with the UNDP logo on the side.

Highlights

  • Since 2012, UNDP and UNHABITAT have worked together to improve living conditions for Syrian refugees in Lebanon
  • 110,000 people will have improved access to basic urban services and shelter
  • Hygiene kits are being distributed to more than 3,800 families
  • Funding has been provided by the German, Swiss and United States governments

“These simple items can be lifesaving,” she says, pulling out a flashlight, band-aids, a heard scarf, underwear and other items for personal hygiene.

Rim, lives in the Al Qasmieh Palestinian Gathering, an encampment for Palestinians in Lebanon and others fleeing the violence in Syria. She has had little reason to rejoice since she fled from her home in Syria eight months ago. In the crowded, two-room shelter, her family struggles to survive on the bare minimum. For many women and children in these camps, essential personal hygiene products are difficult to come by and considered a luxury.

A UNDP and UNHABITAT programme is hoping to change that however. After conducting a rapid assessment of water and sanitation needs in Palestinian gatherings, UNDP has begun distributing “family kits,” to help people meet their daily needs and prevent illness or the outbreak of diseases in the often overcrowded camps, such as diarrhea and head lice.

“This project is passing a crucial milestone on the way to our goal of making equal access to services a reality in Palestinian gatherings,” says UNDP's Fadi Abilmona. “Last year, we implemented 54 urgent infrastructure projects in 22 gatherings. By the end of 2014, we hope to have helped 100,000 dwellers in the gatherings.”

UNDP and UNHABITAT, are in the process of increasing the distribution of the hygiene kits to more than 3,800 families across Lebanon. With the support of their local partner Popular Aid for Relief and Development, the focus has been on the most crowded and vulnerable of the 42 Palestinian gatherings, which have now swelled to a total population of 135,000 due to an addition of 35,000 refugees pouring in from Syria.

The project is part of a US $300,000 campaign that that focuses on improving water and sanitation in Palestinian Gatherings. The campaign helps residents prioritize access to clean water, basic sanitation and good hygiene practices. For families such as Rim's, the hygiene kits bring immediate, much-needed improvements to their living situation.

“We need the items in this kit,” Rim says. “The flashlight inside it is so important, especially when often there’s no electricity and the floor of our shelters is muddy and rocky.”

As to the bucket, she added it would come in handy to collect and preserve water for daily use for her family.