An Update on Anera’s Shelter Project in Beirut
These residents of Beirut are finally safe and secure in their new and improved homes and businesses
Two years ago today, a devastating explosion wracked the port in Beirut, Lebanon on August 4, 2020. It was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, damaging or destroying infrastructure across wide swaths of the city, killing over 200 people and wounding some 6,000.
The scars of the blast are still raw. Just a few days ago, sections of the remnant Beirut port silos finally collapsed. Additional sections of the ruins collapsed today, shortly before hundreds of people gathered to mark the anniversary, sending a cloud of dust rising over the capitol and providing a visceral reminder of the national trauma that befell Lebanon.
Before the 2020 disaster, many residents were already living with electricity blackouts, rising unemployment, a declining economy and the COVID-19 pandemic. The blast left much of the city in rubble with the destruction spanning miles wide, making these challenges even harder.
In the time since, Anera’s Rebuild Beirut shelter program, funded by institutional donors like UNICEF, CARE International, Muslim Aid-USA, and Facebook, as well as thousands of individual donors from around the globe, has worked to restore people’s homes to make them habitable again.
In each home, teams are following the minimum standards established by the UN’s Shelter Working Group: installing reliable plumbing systems, doors for privacy, an electrical outlet in each room, and so on. For many families, this means the repairs improved the standard of housing from what it was before the blast.
Initial complications due to COVID lockdowns caused delays in the repair work, but as restrictions loosened around March, 2021, Anera’s teams ramped up the pace of construction. As of late, 1,349 houses, 75 small businesses and one clinic have been completed throughout the neighborhoods of Zkak El Blat, Khandak El Ghamik, Bachoura, Burj Hammoud, Karantina, Achrafiye, Rmeil, Mar Mikhael, Gemmayze, Bachoura and Mazraa.
Anera’s teams want to make people feel safer and provide the resources they need to get back on their feet. With approximately 98% of this chapter of the shelter project completed, three-fourths of the satisfaction surveys have also been completed in Anera’s affected areas, demonstrating that a whopping 91% of those impacted feel safer and content with their new living or working environments.
With plenty of work to go around throughout the process of rebuilding, Anera recruits young adults living near or being impacted by our programs, giving them an opportunity to receive an income while their property undergoes reconstruction. In Beirut, Anera’s cash-for-work programs target young adults affected by the Beirut blast, recruiting 145 young adults to help with the reconstruction, 56% of whom are Lebanese while 39% are Palestinians from Lebanon; the remaining 5% are Palestinians from Syria and Syrian and Turkish young adults.
Included in the shipments of building materials are donated medicines and health care supplies worth tens of millions of dollars, giving Beirut citizens as much support as possible in the time following this crisis.
Although we have nearly completed our work rehabilitating homes and businesses damaged by the port explosion, Anera is now expanding its efforts. With the support of Anera’s community of individual and institutional donors, we are now embarking on rehabilitating the homes of vulnerable families in areas across Lebanon. We are focusing on kitchens and bathrooms, because working plumbing is vital to good health and hygiene, not to mention habitability. Read more about the impacts and the stories behind Anera’s shelter project on our website.
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