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SPAN (2019) Case Study: Lebanon


This case study applies the SPaN approach to facilitate the transition or transformation of a short-term emergency safety net into a sytemic and longer-ter poverty alleviation mechanism by aligning service provision through NPTP and MCPA to foster complementary national safety nets able to cover socio-economic vulnerabilities of both, Lebanese and non-Lebanese populations.

Between November 2017 and February 2018 the SPaN initiative launched a Technical Assistance (TA) expert mission to review and develop options for how the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis (EUTF Syria) could support the development of a social assistance programme in Lebanon to help the most socio-economically vulnerable Syrian refugees and Lebanese host populations affected by the Syrian crisis. 

Lebanon has the highest ratio of refugees to national population in the world. While Lebanese communities sympathise with the plight of refugees, their tolerance is strained by rising poverty and a worsening labour market which impedes Lebanon’s capacity to host and absorb Syrians.

Case Study Lebanon (PDF)

The proportion of registered Syrian refugee households living below the poverty line is high and Syrian refugee arrivals increased the labour supply. The presence of the high number of refugees has decreased wages, led to higher unemployment and inflated costs of goods and services. Unemployment in the poorest localities is nearly double the national average (7%), placing considerable strain on host communities. 

Lebanese social protection focuses on those in formal employment, consequently approximately 40% of the population who are without formal employment have no social insurance coverage. The National Poverty Targeting Programme (NPTP), under the Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA), provides food vouchers and in-kind sevices to elibible beneficiaries. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis and the influx of refugees many Social Development Centres (SDCs) became the primary social and healthcare services outlet for Syrian refugees as well as vulnerable Lebanese.

Coordination between donors and development partners is week and needs to be strengthened and priorities mutually agreed with the government to better support meeting the social protection needs of vulnerable groups. In order to strengthen coordination, MoSA proposed in December 2017 to convene a Ministerial Advisory Group, to focus the provision of social protection.

This case study is divided into five parts:

Scene setting

What it might look like

How it could be done

Summary of assessed response options

What happens next

Providing appropriate, equitable and coordinated social assistance support for vulnerable Lebanese and registered refugees, would help improve perceptions, ease current social tensions and have a meaningful impact on people’s vulnerability, whatever the background or citizenship of those in need. Success in achieving this has clear political advantages for the Government of Lebanon and international donors.

Stemming from common needs analysis of host populations and refugees, transfers and services can be provided to those currently in need, regardless of their legal status, through the network of SDCs. This is how it could be done:

  • Conducting joint vulnerability analysis and policy development;
  • Communicate and harmonize essential services and social assitence to create coherence between refugees and host communities;
  • Expansion of joint post-distribution and outcome monitoring to assess implementation and strengthen dialogue between stakeholders; and
  • Facilitation of joint government and donor financial planning and budgeting.  


The Lebanon case study was produced as part of a Technical Assistance Mission supported by the initiative “Guidance Package on Social Protection across the Humanitarian-Development Nexus” (SPaN). It is jointly led by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and DirectorateGeneral for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR) with the support of DEVCO Unit 04 and the MKS programmethe SPaN initiative. Visit the Guidance Package´s community page for a full list of SPaN´s studies. 

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Social Protection - Knowledge Management Expert
last update
27 May 2019

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