Providing warmth to host communities in Lebanon

Enaam Hassan, a mother of twenty, lives in the Bekaa region of Lebanon, where cooler months are characterized by a steep drop in temperatures, with heavy snow falls further exacerbating difficult living conditions.

Diesel fuel is expensive, and she struggled to keep her house warm. “I used to buy diesel fuel for 3,000-5,000 Lebanese Pounds (US$ 2-3.5) which was barely enough for me.”

Highlights

  • 600 stoves were delivered and installed in the Bekaa and the North, along with 960 tons of briquettes.
  • Approximately 3,000 people have benefited from the distribution of stoves.
  • The stoves have reduced reliance on highly polluting diesel fuel and on wood collected unsustainably, and often illegally, from forests.

As a result of severe winter weather, many Lebanese communities hosting Syrian refugees struggled to heat their homes and keep warm, a situation further compounded by power cuts that last for up to 12 hours a day. For years, Lebanese families have relied on diesel-fuel stoves; however, fuel is a dangerous, highly flammable substance, and it is often too expensive to afford, leaving many families vulnerable to the cold.

UNDP’s Country Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Demonstration Project for the Recovery of Lebanon (CEDRO) worked with the Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSA) and the Ministry of Energy (MOE) to find a solution. Funded by the German Government under the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan, the project delivers stoves and two winters’ supply of environmentally friendly briquettes to the most vulnerable people in the North and Bekaa regions.

Those two regions, among the poorest and most under-served regions of Lebanon, are the most affected by the Syrian crisis. Hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians are living alongside the local population, which already faces insufficient social services, weak infrastructure, and limited livelihood opportunities. The strain on resources has increased the price of many basic goods, including diesel fuel.

An average family would need US$ 600-800 worth of diesel fuel for heating during the winter months.But rarely can families afford this amount, so they buy less, go for illegal wood cutting, or sacrifice their comfort. UNDP, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs, received a list with the names of those people most in need, who were provided the stoves and briquettes.

The stoves burn sustainably-produced briquettes which are manufactured from carpentry or agricultural waste, or from sustainably-managed forests. Each stove can emit enough heat to warm a room of up to 100m2. Shouelly Ahmad el Hajji, a Lebanese woman from Al Hisheh said, “We are 15 people living in this house, and have lived here for forty years using the diesel fuel stove to keep us warm. But with the money we used to buy diesel fuel, now we can buy bread and food instead. Our joy is inexpressible.”

Around 600 stoves were delivered and installed in the Bekaa and the North, along with 960 tons of briquettes. “They are all very pleased with this project because they will still save some briquettes left for next winter,” CEDRO’s project manager Hassan Harajli said.

Safety and upkeep instructions were given to the beneficiaries when they received their stoves and briquettes. Six months after the stoves were installed, a team of professionals accompanied by the CEDRO engineers visited homes to check the stoves were functioning properly. In replacing dangerous diesel fuel with stoves and briquettes, Lebanese homes have been made safer.

Currently, the briquettes are imported to ensure safety and origin (from sustainably-harvested forests) but UNDP CEDRO is working to create the value chain for locally produced briquettes.

There are also benefits that go beyond providing heating to households. In distributing stoves and briquettes, UNDP has also reduced reliance on highly polluting diesel fuel and on wood collected unsustainably, and often illegally, from forests. Money saved on fuel can be used for other priority needs. Stoves and briquettes are just one way UNDP is investing in renewable energy while providing assistance to those Lebanese most in need.

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