USAID Community Support Program’s Adaptive Approach Maximizes Impact in Underserved Lebanese Communities
During the past year, the Community Support Program (CSP), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has been continuously adapting to maximize the impact of its support to the country’s most underserved residents in response to the deteriorating economic situation, the COVID-19 pandemic, and most recently, the devastating explosion at the Port of Beirut.
Following the August 4 explosion, CSP identified an urgent need to provide coordinated assistance in the cleanup effort in the capital while employing persons in need from the area. The project worked with five local organizations to select, train, and provide income for 250 workers to safely remove, sort, and properly dispose of debris and recyclables from the worst-affected neighborhoods. Students under the USAID-funded University Scholarship Program from the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese American University also joined this initiative as part of CSP’s facilitation of internship and volunteer opportunities for 100 USAID scholarship students over five years. In addition to kick-starting the rehabilitation process in the neighborhoods, this cash-for-work intervention will inject about $110,000 for underserved local daily workers. CSP is following up on this initial response with other interventions including fixing public streetlights that were destroyed in the explosion.
Before the explosion, CSP had adjusted its methods to limit the impact of COVID-19 on its activities and enable it to continue safely providing assistance to communities, while also offering businesses and individuals paid opportunities to partner with the program to implement activities. For example, CSP trained employees from its partner home-based health care businesses on best practices for preventing the spread of COVID-19 as they continued serving hundreds of patients. This is part of a workforce development program designed to improve employment outcomes for Lebanese residents by supporting and improving access to quality technical and vocational education and training (TVET). The activity’s objective is to improve the skills of, and employment opportunities for, at least 1,000 unemployed or underemployed Lebanese from vulnerable communities. In addition, CSP provides training to municipalities and community members in benefitting areas on how to operate, maintain and sustain the assistance interventions provided under CSP.
In the coming months, CSP will continue adapting its work to serve Lebanon’s most vulnerable communities by continuing its rehabilitation activities in Beirut neighborhoods while assessing community needs to determine whether to provide additional emergency stabilization assistance. It is also moving forward with new interventions. These include six USAID-approved wastewater management projects that will upgrade, rehabilitate, and construct infrastructure in all three of CSP’s focus regions, enabling local facilities to treat an estimated 40,000 additional cubic meters of wastewater per day.
CSP is a seven-year, $80 million program that is carrying out a range of rapid response and community development projects in partnership with municipalities, civil society organizations, and the private sector. Since launching in October 2018, the program has already assisted more than 77,000 Lebanese, who mostly reside in the North, South, and Beqaa Valley. Fifty-eight percent of the beneficiaries have been women. CSP’s initiatives have included maintaining and rehabilitating infrastructure such as street lighting and providing communities with equipment such as water tanks, generators, electrical transformers, and agricultural equipment.