One year ago, an explosion destroyed the port and part of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. This disaster killed more than 200 people, injured 6,500 more and left 300,000 residents without viable housing. Immediately, Fondation de France launched a call for donations. Three million euros were collected and two million have already been spent to support 46 field projects targeting four priority areas of focus: psychological support, economic recovery, support for young people and rehabilitation of individual housing and communal spaces.
The dual explosion that occurred a year ago at the port of Beirut further weakened a country hard hit by a serious economic, political and health crisis. Since then, the situation in Lebanon has continued to deteriorate. The Fondation de France was on the ground in the days following the disaster and it redoubled its support for Lebanese civil society organizations that serve the most vulnerable populations.
To this end, two million euros have been spent in four priority areas defined by the “Solidarité Liban” committee.
- provide social and psychosocial assistance to the most affected inhabitants;
- support youth through social, educational and cultural activities;
- support the revival of the economic activity of small entrepreneurs and artisans;
- rehabilitate housing for vulnerable families and communal spaces.
Acting for the long-term with the Agence Française de Développement
In the aftermath of the explosion in the port of Beirut, the Agence Française de Développement and Fondation de France decided to jointly support the Lebanese population: an unprecedented partnership was quickly set up with the Agence Française de Développement proposing to match the funds collected by Fondation de France to the tune of 2 million euros.
Provide social and psychosocial assistance to the most affected inhabitants
Fondation de France is backing about 10 psychosocial support projects aimed at preventing the development of psychological disorders, counseling people in suffering, and giving social and financial support to extremely vulnerable people (children, single-parent households, healthcare professionals, migrants, etc.).
For example, the projects run by the organizations Embrace, Sesobel, Association du Foyer de l'Enfant Libanais, Good Shepherd Shelter for Young Girls and AVT-L offer outlets for physical and digital discussion supervised by specialized staff and seek out people showing signs of psychological distress.
- 11 locally supported active association projects;
- €553,500 spent as of July 15, 2021, to support these actions;
- 10,012 vulnerable families have received psychosocial or medical support;
- 3,220 have families received emergency financial assistance.
Restoring hope for young people
Weakened by successive crises, the social and community fabric remains a crucial element. This is why Fondation de France supports projects to help maintain community connections, especially for young people. Collective solidarity initiatives, particularly educational and cultural actions, have been developed in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Beirut and its surroundings. Programs have emerged so that the most affected young people can continue their education. All the activities enable young people to escape their complex daily lives and express themselves in response to the shock of the explosion.
For example, the projects organized by Himaya Daeem Aataa, Hammana Artist House, Zoukak, Erasmus Expertise, Al Khamandjâti and Beirut Film Society allow children and young people to participate in artistic, fun and educational co-ed activities.
- 7 locally supported active association projects;
- €235,536 committed as of July 15, 2021;
- 2,772 young people received support to continue their education, psychosocial assistance or access to cultural opportunities;
- 538 young people benefited from new training.
Supporting the economic activity of small entrepreneurs and artisans
Fondation de France wanted to devote a significant portion of the funds collected to economic recovery. Thus, a dozen local associations were supported with the aim of accelerating the reconstruction and reopening of local shops (grocery stores, bakeries, hairdressers, cafes, etc.) and the premises of several micro-businesses. Associations such as Jibal, Al Majmoua and Arcenciel have been able to assist local merchants in repairing storefronts, doors and windows and replacing equipment and inventory.
Financial aid has been granted to micro-entrepreneurs in the form of debt relief and small artisans have received compensation for production losses. Vocational training has also been offered, with lasting social and economic opportunities.
Beyond these projects, all the actions supported by Fondation de France in Lebanon indirectly contribute to economic recovery and the preservation of jobs by promoting the use of labor, production and local consumption when products are available.
- 11 locally supported active association projects;
- €520,000 spent as of July 15, 2021, to support these actions;
- 352 companies supported (having benefited from financial assistance or the renovation of their premises);
- 252 people benefited from new training.
Rehabilitating housing for vulnerable families and communal spaces
The material damage caused by the August 4 explosion was considerable: within a 3 km radius of the port, nearly 10,000 buildings were affected, some 2,500 of which incurred heavy damage. Some 320 buildings have collapsed or are in danger of total or partial collapse. Some of the most vulnerable populations in Beirut are concentrated in groups located in the neighborhoods close to the port. There are also a large number of historic buildings (often inhabited by these same populations) whose restoration is time consuming and expensive. Therefore, rehabilitating these neighborhoods is extremely complex and must take into account significant social, cultural and urban issues.
To respond to the urgent need for shelter for those most affected, Fondation de France quickly mobilized to support 14 projects around reconstruction and local urban planning. Unite Lebanon Youth Project, Developmental Action Without Borders, Libami Cholet and the Lebanese Association for Human Promotion and Literacy are helping to repair housing for families in very vulnerable situations, in places like Nabaa and Burj Hammoud. Liban Sans Frontières, for its part, offers training to young volunteer apprentices who are restoring damaged housing.
- 14 locally supported active association projects;
- €591,964 spent as of July 15, 2021, to support these actions;
- 1,210 housing units and 13 places of public interest rehabilitated or supported in their rehabilitation;
- Over 11,000 beneficiaries;
- 100 people trained in the rehabilitation of historic buildings.
Some examples of supported projects