Municipal Empowerment and Resilience Project (MERP)
The Municipal Empowerment and Resilience Project is a joint initiative by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). The project is being implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities (MoIM) and funded by the European Union (EU), through its Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis. The project aims to strengthen the long-term resilience of subnational authorities in Lebanon as well as that of host communities and displaced persons affected by the crisis.
Eleven years into the Syrian crisis, Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world and remains at the forefront of one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time. Adding to the humanitarian context, Lebanon is undergoing a series of overlapping crises on the political, economic, and social front, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to this, the capital Beirut and the country are still recovering from the effects of the devastating blast in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020. (VASyR 2021)
The displacement crisis is putting tremendous pressure on the country’s services and resources, particularly at the local level. Municipalities and Unions of Municipalities (UoMs) are responsible for key services and play an important role in local economic development and in ensuring stability and safety in the community. Yet, local authorities have also been severely affected by the current economic crisis in Lebanon, which has reduced municipal revenues and, at the same time, decreased its real value.
At national level, the project supports the Directorate General of Local Administration and Councils (DGLAC) to strengthen the enabling environment for municipalities and UoMs. Project achievements include the finalization and dissemination of an assessment of DGLAC; the implementation of key follow-up activities to enhance the operations, functioning and visibility of DGLAC; and the implementation of DGLAC talk-shows on key topics of municipal concern engaging over 170 municipal, UoM, and civil society stakeholders.
At local level, the project has implemented a range of social stability, governance, basic service, and local economic development activities. Major project achievements include:
- Under the social stability component, the establishment of mediation units in the three target areas (Al Fayha’a, Tyre and Metn) and the delivery of training on mediation skills and conflict resolution to 43 mediation unit members (23 women, 20 men).
- Under the municipal finance component, the implementation of municipal finance assessments for the Union of Tyre Municipalities and the Urban Community Al-Fayha’a as well as nine municipalities.
- Under the training component, the delivery of trainings on Geographics Information Systems (GIS), Strategic Planning and Resource Mobilization and Proposal Writing. Trainings were delivered to 80 persons (41 women, 39 men) representing 18 municipalities, five Unions of Municipalities, 16 members from the civil society/community and three other public institutions.
Under the basic service component:
- Strengthening of UoM and municipal level Regional Technical Offices (RTOs) through the development of a comprehensive capacity development and transition strategy for the RTOs, including a standard operational manual, a costed capacity development strategy, and an hand-over strategy;
- Training of 82 community, municipal and union representatives (25 women, 57 men) on planning on public service delivery and local economic development;
- Delivery of six awareness sessions to municipalities and UoMs around partnerships with NGOs and the private sector;
- Selection and ongoing implementation of 10 small-scale municipal projects and 10 municipal/UoM basic service/LED projects through a competitive process, which are estimated to benefit more than a million beneficiaries.
As part of the basic service project to rehabilitate and strengthen the fire brigade at the Urban Community Al-Fayhaa, 48 persons (12 women, 36 men) from the Fire Brigade Unit, Urban Community Al-Fayhaa and member municipalities, were trained on First Aid, First Responder, Public Safety Law and Geographics Information Systems (GIS).
- Under the local economic development component, assessments of Local Economic Development (LED) of the Urban Community Al-Fayhaa, the Federation of Municipalities of the Northern and Coastal Matn and the Union of Tyre Municipalities were conducted. To date, the studies are the only available analysis of the impact of the economic and financial crisis at the local level and its implications for unions and municipalities.
- Subnational authorities will have enhanced capacities to engage in holistic, area-based planning and to consider different scenarios that respond to the needs of the host, refugee, and internally displaced person (IDP) populations.
- Service delivery will be increasingly responsive and will generate more significant social stability outcomes based on the needs of the host, refugee, and IDP populations.
- Subnational authorities will be empowered to facilitate local economic development and will have better access to municipal investment that will benefit the extension of public services and economic opportunities for the host, refugee and IDP populations.
Gender inclusion is mainstreamed throughout project activities, ensuring inclusion of women and men in assessment, training and communication activities.