The international community has been providing Lebanon with foreign aid and loan packages since the end of the Lebanese civil war. The many opportunities in recent times to provide support for improving the infrastructure and overall economic performance of Lebanon have not been without shortcomings and have not always resulted in the positive impact that was envisaged. As Lebanon turns to the international community to again ask for aid, both donors and the government should heed lessons from the past and not miss the opportunity to ensure aid is effectively used to fight poverty and inequality, and helps empower women. This policy brief presents findings originally contained in a research report entitled Development Financing in Lebanon: The Politics of Foreign Aid. The research was commissioned by Oxfam in Lebanon and conducted by the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS).
Lebanon will soon have various opportunities to receive international financial support through proposed international conferences, such as Rome II to support the Lebanese Armed Forces and other security agencies; the CEDRE Conference (also known as Paris IV), which will seek to assist in financing large-scale infrastructure projects; and Brussels II, which will provide support to Lebanon as it continues to respond to the influx of a large number of refugees from Syria. The three conferences provide the Government of Lebanon (GoL) with the opportunity to engage with local civil society to ensure that the projects that are proposed are based on needs and emerging protection threats, which have been exacerbated due to continuous deterioration of the socioeconomic situation. While members of civil society that Oxfam interviewed for this briefing paper did express doubts that effective consultations would take place, they also expressed their desire and willingness to constructively engage if afforded the opportunity. Those attending Rome II, CEDRE, Brussels II and any future conferences should respect aid effectiveness principles – ownership, transparency, results, mutual accountability, harmonization and alignment – and ensure that these principles are embedded in their aid contributions.
Developing a national, home-grown, inclusive, multi-sectoral strategy, whereby intervention sectors are prioritized and aid is allocated to projects based on a rightsbased development framework.2 Reinforcing ownership, transparency and accountability in the Lebanese public sector and in donors providing aid to Lebanon.
Advocating for the involvement of civil society in all aspects of the development and monitoring of development strategies, in order to help ensure that local priorities and citizens’ voices are included, with a view to ensuring that rights are protected.
Allocating facilitated aid agreements that are politically unconditional and untied, but that promote respect for rights and the rule of law.
Carrying out local monitoring, evaluation and impact assessments in parallel with donor assessments in order to mutually assess success and weaknesses, as well as mutually practise accountability mechanisms.
Reporting aid flows transparently through a unitary in-country database that integrates commitments and disbursements by donor, sector and public aid- recipient agencies as well as being in line with international standards.
Speeding up negotiation and approval processes, such as deliberations, decision making, planning, implementation, agreements and decree ratifications in order to promote efficiency in the public sector.