Advancing Civic Engagement in Lebanon

PACE was a three-year, USAID-funded project implemented in Lebanon from 2011-2014 with a primary goal to strengthen the capacity of civil society in Lebanon to act as a catalyst for social change through civic advocacy and citizen participation, thereby contributing to a cohesive national identity. PACE worked throughout Lebanon to reach broad constituencies, working across confessional lines and targeting particularly vulnerable groups, in partnership with local organizations.

Through its small grants program, PACE supported issue-based civil society advocacy initiatives, including support for investigative journalism and education campaigns that exposed cases of corruption in public service delivery, misappropriation of public property by private sector interests, government censorship, and related issues, in which local partners were able to take the debate from policy circles in Beirut to the grassroots regions outside of the capital.

PACE also worked in conflict-prone and marginalized regions to form coalitions of CSOs in pursuit of similar development goals, such as its work with youth – both Sunni and Alawites – to work with municipalities to collect and monitor complaints related to public service delivery, with a further aim to mitigate conflict and improve dialogue between rival communities. By successfully galvanizing citizen and youth engagement, PACE was able to promote the concept of administrative decentralization while also empowering municipalities to better meet the needs of local constituents, restoring trust in local state institutions, and promoting community peacebuilding initiatives.

Through the first of its kind social entrepreneurship incubator, PACE was able to provide nascent CSOs with seed funding for activities that promote social and economic inclusion of disadvantaged and marginalized communities, such as women, unemployed youth, drug addicts, prison parolees, disabled persons, and other minority populations. This pilot project helped launch social enterprises that created jobs, raised funds for NGOs, and modeled innovative ways to simultaneously grow businesses while addressing social problems.

In partnership with two local partners, the project conducted nation-wide consultations in the development of policy briefs on important issues, such as corruption, youth employment, quality of public services, sectarian tensions, and public participation in decision-making, which were circulated widely to civic actors to inform their advocacy initiatives and help to facilitate joint actions through local or national platforms. The project also conducted annual public perception surveys and data collection to gain insight into the priority issues and concerns of citizens that helped to inform advocacy initiatives.

PACE also focused on the strategic use of traditional and on-line media to publicize citizen concerns and promote active use of social media as a tool for citizen journalism, mobilization, monitoring, and advocacy, as well as to encourage dialogue and collaboration between Lebanese CSOs. At its close, PACE left behind a cadre of advocacy CSOs, media entities, and social entrepreneurs with increased capacity to act as catalysts for change on issues that directly impact citizen’s lives.

MSI completed the two-year BALADI Plus program in 2014 and is currently implementing the USAID/Lebanon SWIFT and USAID/Lebanon BALADI CAP Projects.

PACE LebanonClick here to Watch an interview with the PACE Chief of Party, Chief of Party Hérve de Baillenx.