The Syrian crisis has affected Lebanon at various levels. Official numbers of the United Nations indicate the presence of 1.1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. This implies that the country hosts more refugees in relation to the population than any other country in the world. The increasing number of refugees has put serious strains on social stability and the economy. In the context of humanitarian efforts, civil society is facing increasing hostility and a lack of much needed coping mechanisms. As an agent for change, civil society is therefore in dire need of innovative concepts to respond appropriately to the increasingly complex reality on the ground.
Against this background, forumZFD together with its partner organisations Basmeh & Zeitooneh and LOST designed the project “Future Together Now!”. This project supports the Lebanese civil society to work towards improving relationships between different communities (Lebanese and Non-Lebanese) and establishing inclusive structures for conflict transformation, community development and relationship-building through community mobilising.
To reach this aim, a mechanism for community activism has been implemented in communities in the Beqaa Valley and in Tripoli. In a first step, a group of Community Activists (CAs) was selected together with the partner organisations. The CAs were then trained by forumZFD’s Capacity Development team on topics such as conflict transformation, communication, dialogue, negotiation and mediation and community empowerment. Each training was followed by practically applying the newly acquired skills for the CAs to understand local fault lines and to be able to address local needs appropriately. In a next step, the CAs planned and implemented their own projects targeting conflicts and needs in their respected communities monitored and mentored by forumZFD staff.
Additionally, the forumZFD Community Mobilising team together with its partner organisations Basmeh & Zeitouneh and LOST reached out to key (e.g municipalities, principals, religious leaders) and other actors (local NGOs, students, women, children) as well as to people in the wider community of the target locations. A consultation process was held to incorporate the community activism mechanism into the local context and to adapt it to the changing realities on the ground.
Beneficiaries of the “Future Together Now!” project are, besides the CAs themselves and the communities they are active in, also our partner organisations. Through capacity building and mentoring by forumZFD the organisations acquired further skills in the realm of conflict transformation and community mobilisation as well as in jointly designing and implementing projects and trainings.
Please find a summary of the Future Together Now! I project here.