Natural Hazard Risk
Lebanon is challenged by multiple natural hazards, including flooding, drought, earthquakes and associated tsunamis. The country experiences one to two cases of flooding annually, a number that is likely to rise with climate change. In addition, Lebanon is situated along the seismically active Dead Sea Transform Fault.
Lebanon is host to a dense and growing urban population. Over 87 percent of the population lives in cities. The urban population’s exposure to risk is exacerbated by low implementation of building codes and regulations with a high percentage of the population living in low-quality informal housing. Furthermore, a key issue facing Lebanon is the influx of an estimated 1.2 million Syrian refugees, who make up more than 25 percent of the population. This unprecedented influx of refugees has increased cities’ and their citizen’s exposure to a number of risks, including the deterioration of service delivery and increased pressures on infrastructure.
The Government of Lebanon has taken important steps to move toward a more proactive disasters risk management (DRM) approach. In 2009, the Prime Minister’s Office established a Disaster Risk Management Unit, complemented by the establishment of the National Coordination Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2013. Currently, Lebanon does not have an operational disaster management plan or strategy. National legislation, DRM policies, strategies, and response frameworks have been initiated with the support of international agencies.
- Improving institutional capacity to plan for and respond to natural hazard and climate change risk;
- Better understanding natural hazard and climate change risk; and,
- Building urban resilience to scale-up the ongoing Urban Resilience Masterplan pioneered by the World Bank in partnership with GFDRR.
Since 2007, GFDRR has provided financial and technical support to DRM activities in Lebanon. In response to the country’s highly urban population, GFDRR support has been focused on building urban resilience.
GFDRR’s early activities included a partnership with the Lebanon DRM center to develop a rapid hazard risk assessment for the Municipality of Tripoli. The assessment was finalized in 2012 and identified several challenges, including the limited enforcement of building codes. The study is forming the foundation for DRM integration into Tripoli’s urban development.
GFDRR has also supported a number of capacity-building initiatives across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Most recently, GFDRR launched the Women for Resilience (W4R) competition in 2014. Based in Beirut, Cairo, and Djibouti City, the competition has increased resilience by investing in women-led enterprises. In 2015, W4R awarded funding and business training to a women-led start-up in Beirut that designed a smart digital platform linking patients to doctors for a more resilient medical system.
Ongoing efforts are helping the Government of Lebanon advance urban resilience. With support from GFDRR and the World Bank, the City of Beirut is developing a Comprehensive Urban Resilience Master Plan that includes a city risk diagnostic and short, medium, and long-term resilience strategies. These activities will be complemented by capacity-building activities for key city stakeholders. The project aims to strengthen the city's technical understanding of multi-hazard risks in order to develop preparedness and response capacity, and to better support city level investments plans.
Building on this engagement, GFDRR is also supporting the improvement of urban resilience in cities impacted by the Syrian refuge crisis. This will be accomplished through the development of hazard risk profiles and participatory urban resilience master plans for a number of cities across the country. Based on this analysis, adjustments and investments will be identified to improve living conditions and strengthen resilience for both host communities and refugees.
These activities are in the early stages, and GFDRR anticipates continued demand from the Government of Lebanon.