Filling in the Gap through Social Grants and Poverty Programmes

As the socio-economic crisis continued to unfold in 2021, including sharp economic contraction, over 95% loss of the currency’s value, a hyperinflation, and massive reduction in purchasing power, the situation deteriorated further with the lifting of subsidies and the energy crisis. This was coupled with a complex political environment which, after a 13-month deadlock, prevented the formation of a new government until September 2021. These developments revealed the structural weaknesses in the social protection system and confirmed the need for a comprehensive and systematic social policy package to protect people against existing and emerging vulnerabilities.

As the Government focus on social protection became apparent, placing the sector as a priority item on its agenda, the National Social Protection Strategy was completed, with an extensive gender and disability perspective. Following national consensus, the Strategy Document highlighted the need to rapidly expand the social assistance system in Lebanon through the introduction of Social Grants that would address lifecycle vulnerabilities to complement the existing anti-poverty programmes.

As such, the National Poverty Targeting Programme is gradually being scaled up from 15,000 reaching 36,000 households in 2021. The scale up gave the opportunity for more families, to finally join the NPTP and get access to the assistance. Many households have submitted their applications and look forward to joining the programme. In fact, similarly to other beneficiaries, Mona, a new NPTP beneficiary expressed the following “when we were informed that our family is eligible for aid, we immediately felt happy”, adding “No one could believe how glad I was. I’ve been hoping to get the WFP food e-card for a very long time.” Mona truly believes that “Children benefit the most when fed with nutritious food” because she is aware of the fact that “Food keeps children healthy, protects them from diseases and helps them grow right in front of our eyes” as she says. Mona lives in Tripoli’s “tin neighborhood” but “never expected she would need assistance” to stay afloat, because as per her “Before COVID-19 and all that is happening, everything in Lebanon was somehow affordable”.

In parallel, the Haddi child grant which was launched in June 2021 is currently benefiting more 100,000 vulnerable children and providing immediate response to their pressing and different needs. Thirty-one-year-old Sara, a Lebanese mother of three, was able to replace her youngest son’s broken eyeglasses and as she explains “I plan to use the money differently. My children have new needs all the time. However, I’m sure it won’t be long before the money is used simply to feed them.”