The American University of Beirut and UN-HABITAT held a special meeting earlier this month for municipal, governmental and non-governmental groups to hone their strategy for post-war reconstruction in the south of the country.
The meeting was called to address all aspects of a new two-year project known as the "Good Governance for Enhanced Post-War Reconstruction," which is implemented by UN-HABITAT in partnership with the union of municipalities of Tyre, Bint Jbeil and Jabal Aamel, and in cooperation with Beit bil Jnub, the University, and others.
Funded by The Netherlands and Cyprus with $800,000 and $500,000 respectively, the project hopes to reach some 4,000 affected southern families within two years, and help rebuild homes destroyed while preserving the local architectural style. It also expects to set up regional technical offices in order to ensure sustainability.
"This is a project that ensures that our work will have a direct impact on the ground, in terms of policy-making, local and community development. It is also a culmination of the work we started right after the war," said Ms. Mona Harb, assistant professor of architecture and design, told the Beirut daily, The Star.
The newspaper added: “Already, on-the-ground work has begun through the efforts of Beit bil Jnub, a young nonprofit organization led by an American University of Beirut graduate of urban design, Rabih Shibli, who currently also teaches a course on landscape design. The University’s main role in the new project is to monitor and evaluate, as well as offer consultative technical expertise.”
The Star said the project, led by Jala Makhzoumi, an associate professor of landscape design and eco-management, was expected to enhance the capacities of the municipalities and concerned local groups. It would also help the municipalities rebuild according to spatial planning considerations and specific design guidelines, and monitor the reconstruction process as a tool to improve and speed up rebuilding, specifically in towns where the level of destruction was high.
“The meeting (18 October) saw a high turnout, a reflection of the southern communities’ interest and engagement in the reconstruction process,” the newspaper said. “UN-HABITAT representatives, Dania Rifaii and Tarek Osseiran, overviewed the project with meeting participants, addressing their concerns, which included fears of duplication with other independent projects as well as the need for cooperation among stakeholders in order to prevent violations of Lebanese urban planning laws.”