Since 2017, the response to the multifaceted impact of the Syrian crisis has been guided by a revised Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP), jointly developed by the Government of Lebanon (GoL) and the humanitarian community (United Nations, national and international NGOs and donors) covering a multi-year period up to 2020. It provides an integrated humanitarian and stabilization framework, aiming to tackle Lebanon’s challenges holistically, taking into account the vulnerability of all people affected by the crisis. The response aims to ensure protection and provide immediate assistance to the most vulnerable populations, primarily the displaced population from Syria, the Lebanese host community, the Palestine refugees in Lebanon and those from Syria. It also aims at strengthening the capacity of national and local service delivery systems and at expanding access to basic services, while striving to reinforce Lebanon’s economic, social and environmental stability. In 2018, the second year of the four-year LCRP began with more than 3 million individuals identified as in need of assistance and 2.8 million targeted by implementing partners. For 85 partners, $1.4bn (52 percent) was made available for programming, including $312m carried over from 2017, out of an overall funding appeal of $2.68bn. At the end of the year, 1.6 million persons had been assisted by the response. Foresight beyond 2018 remains a concern with limited multi-year funding and low levels of sector specific support, in particular for the Livelihoods, Shelter and Energy sectors. Persons living with disabilities face considerable challenges to access livelihoods and services autonomously. Children are among the most vulnerable, in particular unaccompanied children or those separated from their families. Partners have been able to mitigate the deterioration of vulnerabilities, but not halt them completely.
Over two-third of displaced Syrians households remain below the poverty line. 69 percent of Syrian displaced households live on less than US$ 3.84 per person per day, a slight improvement compared to 2017, when 76 percent of displaced Syrians lived below the poverty line. The increase in cash-based assistance in 2018 has prevented further deterioration into poverty, particularly through the multi-purpose cash assistance program which reached 15,000 additional vulnerable households in 2018. Yet, the worsening economic situation in Lebanon had an impact on displaced Syrian households who primarily resorted to accumulating debt as a coping mechanism regardless of their economic vulnerability level: nearly nine out of ten households remain in debt, with the average debt rising to US$ 250 per person (compared to US$ 227 in 2017). There are currently nearly 190,000 displaced families living below minimum and survival expenditure levels, of whom only 62,000 receive multipurpose cash support, or 19 percent of the displaced Syrians population.
Protection risks of the vulnerable population remains high, with legal protection continuing to be a key challenge despite waivers granted in 2018. Only 27 percent of Syrian displaced over 15 hold legal residency, similar to 2017 results. In terms of civil documentation, the majority (97 percent) of Syrian children born in Lebanon have some form of documentation to attest to their birth. However, despite improvements in birth registration for Syrian children born in Lebanon, 79 percent of displaced births remain technically unregistered in 2018, as they have not completed the entire seven steps process to officially register the birth. Child labour continued to be a concern, with a stable percentage of children working at 5 percent since 2017 (although there is underreporting because of social stigma). Children were still affected by violent disciplinary practices (73 percent of them suffered from some form of violence, 78 percent in 2017). Furthermore, early marriage remained high, with 29 percent of girls aged 15 to 19 married, an increase of 7 percent from 2017.
Vulnerable populations face difficulties meeting their basic immediate needs. There has been a marked deterioration in shelter conditions amongst displaced Syrian households and an increase in the number of displaced population living in nonpermanent structures, from 26 percent in 2017 to 34 percent in 2018. Whilst the access to water results are encouraging (access to improved drinking water sources has increased by 4 percent over the last four years to 91 percent in 2018), there is a lack of evidence related to water quality or availability, two essential components for having safely managed water, which in 2016 was measured at only 36 percent nationally. Overall, levels of food security have slightly improved, with 34 percent of Syrian displaced households being moderately to severely food-insecure, compared to 38 percent in 2017. Only 10,000 out of 41,000 vulnerable Lebanese families received food support.
Public services deliver at scale but require sustained attention. 68 percent of Syrian children between 6 and 14 years are enrolled in school, compared to 52 percent in 2016. Costs of transport and school supplies continues to hinder enrolment, with work also figuring as a prominent reason among the 15-17 age group. In terms of primary health care, 87 percent of displaced Syrians were able to receive it out of the 54 percent who needed it. Similarly, 77 percent of displaced were able to access secondary health services out of the 23 percent who required it. There was a 7 percent increase in the percentage of children under two years old who were reported to be sick (mainly fever, coughing, and diarrhea) from 34 percent in 2017 to 41 percent in 2018. The most commonly reported barriers for the 13 percent of households who were not able to access needed primary healthcare was cost, including for drugs and treatment, doctors’ fees and transportation.
Strained inter-communal relations. Frustrations are growing amongst both groups despite relations between displaced Syrians and host communities being relatively stable in 2018 and intercommunal violence largely avoided. For instance, 30 percent of Syrians reported that they had been verbally harassed compared to 20 percent in 2017. Moreover, 21 percent of displaced rarely or never interact with host communities in social circles, indicating a relatively large proportion of displaced remain isolated. Competition over jobs persist as the most prevalent source of tension nationally, though competition over services and utilities is the fastest growing, with environmental issues in particular causing tensions in 2018.
The employment status of the vulnerable population remains fragile. 968 Lebanese businesses were supported in 2018. On average, 68 percent of Syrian households had at least one working member, which was an increase of almost four percentage points compared with 2017. Yet, trends varied greatly by governorate. On average, 55 percent of Syrian female-headed households did not have any working members, compared to 27 percent of households headed by men, similar to 2017. The few Syrian women that were employed worked mainly in agricultural activities (38 percent), occasional work (10 percent) and cleaning (4 percent) with men working mostly in construction (32 percent), agricultural activities (21 percent) and occasional work (11 percent). In 2018, 6,672 casual jobs for construction of water reservoirs and for land rehabilitation were created for both displaced population and host community. In addition, Lebanese businesses were supported to generate income for local economies across Lebanon with a special emphasis on micro, small and medium enterprises, including WFP-contracted shop and women cooperatives.
The impact of the crisis on the environment remains salient. Research has demonstrated that the Syrian crisis has resulted in an increase in pressure on the environment, notably on solid waste, water and wastewater, air quality, land use and ecosystems. Some progress was made in 2018: 55 municipalities implemented integrated solid waste management systems and approaches in order to reduce quantities of waste discharged in open dumps; the Environment Task Force addressed 17 environmental complaints, in majority related to solid waste management issues observed in the Bekka, and conducted pro-active inspections; several Water Sector partners introduced adequate wastewater management solutions that are in line with environmental legislation; over 3,000 farmers adopted sustainable farming practices. In 2018, the Environment Task Force began developing an LCRP Environmental Marker system to screen all LCRP activities and ensure they are aligned with national environmental safeguards. In addition, measurement methodologies are being developed by the Ministry of Environment to keep track of the impact of the response on the environment. Across sectors, immediate assistance was provided to the most vulnerable and key achievements have been realized (as illustrated in the next page). Despite these achievements, more sustainable solutions are required. There is a need for more predictable, balanced funding for short and particularly long-term support to reverse increasing vulnerability as the crisis becomes more protracted, and people further deplete their savings and assets to cope.