The Beirut blast, which occurred on the 4th of August 2020, has caused severe casualties and widespread damage at all levels. The sudden devastation came at a time when the country was already severely overwhelmed with an economic and financial crisis, political and socio-economic challenges and rising rates of unemployment, poverty, and internal conflicts; as well as the risk of COVID-19. In recognition of the spirit of solidarity and inter-cultural exchange that has prevailed in the immediate aftermath of the explosion, especially amongst young women and men volunteers across the country, and given the complexity of the necessary humanitarian interventions, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Offices in Lebanon have jointly launched a call for proposals in response to the massive explosion. This joint call for proposals seeks to further support, mobilize, and empower these youth-led initiatives and efforts for the community’s response and recovery.
With over 100 applications received, 15 proposals have been selected following a rigorous review process of all received applications, a series of interviews conducted with the shortlisted non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and a set of criteria developed by the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC).
In this respect, UNESCO, UNFPA and UNODC organized an online launch event on the 9th of November titled “Result Announcement of UNESCO-UNFPA-UNODC Joint Call for Proposals: Youth-led rehabilitation efforts to support local communities affected by Beirut Blast” to officially announce the final result of the selected proposals. The event also included a presentation of the governance structure of the IAC and the expected outcomes and impact for this joint action among UN agencies in response to the explosion. The launch was attended by Government officials, UN partner agencies, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and NGOs.
In the opening of the launch, Ms. Seiko Sugita, representing the head of UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States, stated that Beirut has been facing a difficult situation caused by the devastating explosion, as well as domestic social challenges and the COVID-19. She pointed out that this joint call for proposals falls within UNESCO’s Li-Beirut initiative and in acknowledgment of the courage and generosity of the youth and their spontaneous solidarity movement.
This was followed by an intervention from Ms. Renee Sabbagh, Head of the UNODC Lebanon Office part of the UNODC Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa (ROMENA). Ms. Sabbagh clarified the selection procedure, including the conditions, eligibility, and review processes and the selection criteria developed by the IAC.
Ms. Mona El-Zoghbi from UNESCO Beirut Office followed by showcasing the 15 selected proposals from Arcenciel, Beirut Film Society, Caritas, Chabibeh Sporting Club, Faculty of Architecture, Design & Built Environment at Beirut Arab University, Himaya Daem Ataa, Lebanese Spotlight, Legal Cell of Opération 7ème Jour at USJ, Live Love Lebanon, Nabad for development, Opération 7ème Jour - Cellule Génie, Youth Against Corruption, Rashet Kheir, Seenaryo & LOYAC Lebanon and Scouts de l’Indépendance. The projects’ thematic areas are diverse, ranging from engaging youth in creating green outdoor spaces and in artistic and sports activities, film making, building resilience through arts, media and socio-cultural activities, legal counselling, anti-corruption training and hackathon, reusing or up-cycling items, to psychological first aid training and support, etc.
Afterward, Ms. Asma Kurdahi, Head of Office of UNFPA Lebanon presented the governance structure of the UNESCO-UNFPA-UNODC IAC, as well as the expected outcomes and impact of this joint call. Ms. Kurdahi emphasised the important role of the Steering Committee, which is composed of the three Agencies and representatives from 15 selected NGOs under the joint communication, reporting and monitoring framework. She introduced the support which the IAC will provide to the selected NGOs, including the guidance on activity implementation and financial management, as well as a series of four trainings on communication and reporting, anti-corruption, gender equality and mainstreaming, and prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation.
The event included a Q&A session, which provided the participants with an opportunity to clarify implementation steps, share experiences and lessons learnt as well as know more about one another for future synergy followed by the closing by Ms. Sugita thanking the participants for their efforts and clarifying the upcoming procedures for all the 15 selected NGOs.
It is to be noted that the project will be implemented over a 6 month period (November-December 2020 to May-June 2021). 500 young people will be fully and directly engaged in its implementation and more than 10,000 beneficiaries will be directly targeted