Against the backdrop of a growing Syrian refugee population in Lebanon and the problems of the central government to deliver some basic public services, decentralisation has become a major topic. The constitution includes decentralisation but is vague on its extent and the responsibilities of national and local institutions. As a result, the decentralisation process has been dysfunctional and citizens’ needs have not been properly addressed by national and local governments.
DRI is working with Lebanese civil society organisations and government representatives at the local and national level to strengthen decentralisation in line with good governance principles. Our point of reference is explained in our Briefing Paper on the State of Play of Decentralisation in Lebanon.
DRI is assessing the role of the three tiers of government (municipal, unions of municipalities and national level) in public service delivery to understand their needs and challenges and develop concrete policy recommendations to improve the decentralisation process. We look at three public service sectors in particular: solid waste management, security, and political participation.
Building on its 2017 survey in two-thirds of Lebanon’s municipal unions, DRI completed, in 2018, two large-scale surveys in central government administrations and in 20% of Lebanon’s municipalities to assess the gaps and linkages between central and local institutions in the provision of services.
The 2017 survey found that most municipal unions have a different understanding of their roles due to the unclear legal framework, as well as an uneven access to financial, human and administrative resources. DRI recommends the development of a clearer decentralisation law and more capacity building for municipal unions to ensure a more efficient and better coordinated delivery of public services.
Based on our research findings and insights from our partners, DRI raises awareness and advocates for better local governance as part of the consortium ‘Idara bi Mahalla’ (a play on words meaning both ‘local administration’ and ‘the administration in the right place/working correctly’). We also provide technical expertise to the Parliamentary Committee on Administration and Justice to support its debate on a decentralisation bill.
In April 2018, in light of the parliamentary elections of 6 May and in conjunction with the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE), DRI has published an assessment of Lebanon’s new electoral law.
DRI is also supporting vulnerable municipalities in the Akkar region to strengthen their local structures, covering issues such as procurement, livelihoods and public services. The region is home to the country’s most vulnerable populations and hosts a very high number of refugees from Syria. This in partnership with the Association of Swedish Municipalities and Regional Councils (SKL International).
Finally, to further the exchange of know-how on local governance, DRI has developed partnerships between German and Lebanese municipalities with the support of Engagement Global.
DRI’s Lebanon projects are currently funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, SKL and Engagement Global.