Nine municipalities and two unions will receive financial support to implement local economic development and basic services projects which will benefit more than one million direct and indirect beneficiaries in the South, North and Matn regions of Lebanon. More than US$ 5.5 million USD will be financed in implementing these projects as part of the Municipal Empowerment and Resilience Project (MERP).
MERP is a joint initiative implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). The project is being implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities and funded by the European Union through its Regional Trust Fund, “Madad” fund. The overall goal of the MERP project is to strengthen the long-term resilience of subnational authorities in Lebanon as well as host communities, refugees, and displaced persons affected by the Syrian crisis.
The identification of municipal and unions projects was conducted by MERP through a lengthy process that started with a call for concept note launched at the end of 2020. The call was open to more than 80 municipalities and the unions under which these municipalities are affiliated, including the Urban Community Al-Fayhaa, the Union of Tyre Municipalities, and the Federation of Municipalities of the Northern and Coastal Matn. In total 33 municipalities and two unions submitted concept notes for basic services and local economic development projects.
After a technical and legal review conducted by MERP, 17 municipalities and two unions were invited for the proposal development phase. During this period, MERP provided ongoing support to municipalities and unions in the development of the proposals. Shortlisted municipalities and unions collaborated with youth and civil society and participated in extensive online training and coaching sessions on proposal development. This ensured that municipalities with different capacities were enabled to compete in the process.
In addition, the approach led to the development of technical skills necessary to develop strong proposals with which municipalities and unions can attract external funding for future projects. After a final scoring and review, MERP selected a total of 11 projects for implementation. However, MERP also aims to support municipalities that were not selected to secure funding from other partners, including by organizing a municipal fair as part of this activity in which all municipalities had a chance to present their projects.
The final selected projects include:
In parallel, and following a municipal finance assessment finalized in 2021, MERP will support the implementation of municipal finance solutions at the unions and municipalities selected for project implementation to strengthen revenue collection/budget efficiency and promote transparency and responsiveness. This in turn will support the longer-term sustainability of the proposed projects.