Advancing Youth Economic Livelihoods in Lebanon

The Syrian refugee influx has exacerbated the lack of resources, adding pressure to already-strained municipalities.

Lebanon’s North and Beqaa regions host some of the country’s most economically vulnerable communities. Within this tense and often challenging environment, MSI’s Lebanon Community Resilience Initiative (LCRI), funded by USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, strategically partnered with local actors in the border area of Wadi Khaled. The goal is to provide idle and unemployed youth with skills and networks to help them re-enter the job market, reviving depressed areas deeply affected by armed violence.

Our project’s first partnership was with the well-established NGO, Naseej Committee, in Wadi Khaled.  It enabled them to train some of the most at-risk youth on marketable skills, such as cell phone repair, and life skills such as conflict mitigation and entrepreneurship.

Marginalization of Lebanese youth in light of the Syrian conflict has been a major driver of tension in the community; many Lebanese beneficiaries have felt a sense of unfair competition resulting from vocational trainings provided for Syrians. For this reason, we took the initiative to design activities that ensured interventions did not marginalize either group – setting our project apart from other programs.

The results have been impressive.  Seventeen of 30 youth participants were generating income by the end of the project.

“I was so desperate, considering to be a suicide bomber to secure money allowing my family to have a decent life, but thank God I came through this opportunity before committing anything that would have shamed my family for all their lifetime,” said one 24-year old Lebanese male participant.

“I was about to give up on myself,” said a Syrian participant whose family of 12 fled to Wadi Khaled when the conflict started. “This project has allowed me to support my family while working from the [refugee] shelter. It made me realize that I can make a difference even with the minimum resources I have.”

MSI’s LCRI project aims to strengthen the ability of Lebanon’s most vulnerable communities to cope with the destabilizing effects of the Syrian conflict by strengthening youth empowerment and civil participation, promoting peaceful alternatives to violence, reducing the isolation and marginalization of communities, and supporting moderate actors.