OTI Lebanon
Lebanese youth work together to strengthen civic activism.

Strengthening social cohesion by mitigating tension in areas most affected by the Syrian crisis.


Steadily escalating violence in Syria has undermined stability in Lebanon by exacerbating sectarian tensions and heavily burdening previously vulnerable communities with hundreds of thousands of needy and disaffected Syrians. Refugee numbers continue to rise, with the number of registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon now over 1,000,000, one quarter of the Lebanese population. As a result, host communities are experiencing continuing economic decline and strain on public services, increased health and hygiene issues due to a shortage of water and electricity, exacerbated sectarian and Lebanese-Syrian tensions, and decreased security.

In January 2013, USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), Lebanon Civic Support Initiative (LCSI) was reconfigured to address the increasing community-level volatility resulting from the spillover of the Syrian crisis. Working through its extensive network of local partners, LCSI seeks to increase social cohesion in vulnerable host communities. Through targeted community-level programming OTI is alleviating resource and economic challenges and mitigating tensions in Lebanese communities overwhelmed by the sudden influx of Syrian refugees.

OTI’s reconfigured program has rehabilitated thousands of Lebanese-owned residential units for refugees, increased access to water or other municipal services for over 200,000 people, reached over 100,000 children and at-risk youth through supplemental education activities, and implemented approximately 350 community cohesion activities and social improvement projects. OTI’s quick impact activities bring together local stakeholders to address community-specific tensions and provide tangible outcomes. By using its in-kind mechanism LCSI is procuring goods and services directly from local communities to increase income generation for local vendors and craftsmen. OTI’s impact can be measured by the resonance of our programming in host communities, which permit OTI to maintain access even as other donors are unwelcome; and it is measured in our close collaboration with municipal and community leaders who actively engage with OTI in targeted programming. 

As many of the northern Lebanon communities have reached absorptive capacity or are increasingly hostile environments due to sectarian dynamics, Syrian refugees are moving into southern and western Lebanon and LCSI has adjusted accordingly.  In addition to OTI’s current focus on key communities in Tripoli, Akkar and the Beqaa, LCSI is now also programming in select communities in the south and west.  LCSI will continue to prioritize interventions in areas that have recently experienced violence, areas of increasing tension between displaced Syrians and host communities, areas of increased sectarian tensions, and symbolic communities in which interventions will have a multiplier effect.


Related Sectors of Work 

Last updated: December 04, 2014

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