DRI IN LEBANON
Administrative decentralisation is enshrined in the Lebanese Constitution as one of the pillars of a strong government. It occupies an important part of the political discourse in Lebanon – and was highlighted by Presidents Michel Sleiman (2008–2014) and Michel Aoun (2016–) in their inaugural speeches. However, the current decentralisation framework is deficient and vague on its extent and the responsibilities of national and local institutions.
As a result, citizens’ pressing needs have not been properly addressed. Local governments still struggle to provide basic public services such as waste management, health care, community safety and public transportation. The strain on local authority’s public services has been further heightened by the arrival of more than 1.5 million refugees from neighbouring Syria. Consequently, citizen’s trust in the political system and State institutions’ ability to respond to their exacerbating needs and daily challenges has become low, creating a state of emergency in all public sectors, on local, regional and national levels.
WHAT WE DO
Since 2016 DRI has been raising awareness and advocating for evidence-based policies that foster good local governance and participatory democracy. The basis for our actions is explained in our Briefing Paper on the State of Play of Decentralisation in Lebanon.
Good local governance is more than supplying a range of services, it is an entry point for civic engagement, bringing democracy closer to people. By strengthening local authorities and citizens, public power can be exercised with integrity, inclusivity and fairness, allowing for more efficient public services that can respond to the pressing needs of citizens and improve sustainable local development.
DRI works with local authorities in the following areas:
Decentralisation reform by providing expertise at the national level to assist government and civil society draw from good governance practices and build legislative and administrative roadmaps for decentralisation reform.
Research and assessments by conducting field assessments at the national and local level to produce informed policy recommendations on public service delivery and legislative reform.
Raising awareness by working with civil society organisations to raise awareness and understanding of the value of inclusive, transparent and accountable local level policymaking.
Increasing civic participation by participating in existing local democracy mechanisms to promote the participation of all citizens, both men and women, in local policymaking.
Building capacity by supporting programmes for local governance actors and authorities to strengthen their performance in key governance and service delivery areas and promote effective cooperation between national, regional and local government.
Setting an Agenda for Decentralisation in Lebanon – funded by the German Federal Foreign Office
DRI is working with Lebanese civil society organisations and public officials to promote a public debate on local governance and support decentralisation reform in line with good governance principles. DRI conducted two large surveys in 2017 and 2018 to identify the needs and challenges of the three tiers of government (municipal, unions of municipalities and national government) and to assess their role in public service delivery. The project has focused on three public service sectors in particular: solid waste management, security, and political participation, which were also reflected in two recent reports published in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
DRI raises awareness and advocates for better local governance as part of “Al-Idara bi-Mahalla”, a campaign that aims to include all relevant actors and influencers involved in the decentralisation process. Since May 2017, DRI has provided legal expertise to the Administration and Justice parliamentary committee to support the debate on the 2014 Administrative Decentralisation Bill. Since July 2019, we have supported the Municipalities and Defence committee to modernise the 1977 Municipal Act.
Resilience in local governance (Reslog) – funded by SKL International
“Reslog” is implemented in the northern governorate of Akkar, one of Lebanon’s most deprived areas that also hosts an extremely high number of Palestinian and Syrian refugees. The project aims at strengthening resilient and sustainable local governance systems and developing local capacity to respond to emergency crises.
DRI is working with SKL International in partnership with two municipal unions and Akkar’s administration, to enhance the effectiveness of local public authorities. The intervention follows a whole systems approach focused on capacity building to strengthen institutional development, planning and delivery of basic services, community interaction, and increasing accountability of local governments.
Municipal Know-How for Host Communities in the Middle East – funded by Engagement Global gGmbH
To support decentralised cooperation between German municipalities and Lebanese host communities, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) launched, in 2017, the “Municipal Know-How for Host Communities in the Middle East” programme. It is implemented by Engagement Global’s “Service Agency Communities in One World”.
Stemming from our belief in the importance of exchanging technical know-how and municipal good practices, DRI focuses on promoting professional dialogue and intercultural exchange to develop original solutions to local problems in coordination with project partnerships and selected municipalities in Lebanon and Germany.
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DRI’s Lebanon projects are currently funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, SKL and Engagement Global.