Local Governance Under Pressure
Since the onset of the crisis in Syria in 2011, Lebanon has faced numerous spill over effects. The historically fragile Lebanese structure and economy are struggling to accommodate approximately over 1.1 million registered Syrian refugees and 43,377 Palestinian refugees from Syria. In a country of just over 4 million people and 321,362 Palestinian refugees from Lebanon, population has grown by 30 percent and 1 out of 5 are refugees. The magnitude of the crisis has had a dilapidating effect on the local economy and infrastructure. Lebanese local authorities have to deal with the presence of persons displaced from Syria, providing basic services and maintaining social well-being to an increased number of inhabitants, despite their weak financial and technical resources. Under this scenario, strengthening local resilience in face of this crisis is an imperative to any humanitarian response but also for reactivating local development processes. This research focuses on local governance and social stability in North Lebanon (El-Koura, Bcharreh, Zgharta and Minieh-Dannieh districts), where Oxfam has been working with both municipalities, Syrian refugees and host communities since 2013. The main aim of the research is to understand the informal and formal power dynamics and governance structures at the local level. It also looks at the impact of the Syria crisis in this area, to understand the basic needs, priorities and concerns of Syrian refugees and host communities. Furthermore, the research identifies initiatives that assist local authorities in absorbing and adapting to the current shock and strengthening social stability.