Social IssuesMar 01, 2023
Coping with Concurrent Crises in Lebanon: For an Inclusive National Social Registry to Protect the Vulnerable
- Leila Dagher, Ali Abboud, Ola Sidani
This brief assesses the response of the Lebanese government to the pandemic and other concurrent crises on vulnerable populations. It provides a discussion of the major challenges in mounting a wide-scale response to alleviate the social and economic repercussions of the various crises. The work highlights two main shortcomings: 1) the lack of information (data) to guide any relief and social safety net program, and 2) the limited scope of already existing programs, mainly due to budgetary constraints. It argues that putting in place a unified digital social registry that covers all residents in Lebanon is a necessity. Based on observed vulnerabilities in the past three years, the authors urge the government to prioritize adopting and implementing a universal national social protection strategy to better protect the disadvantaged population. Equally important is the need to ensure the financial sustainability of these programs in the medium to long term (once Lebanon enhances its fiscal capacity) by decreasing reliance on foreign aid and shifting towards viable domestic social spending.Leila Dagher is Assistant to the President for Public Policy, Associate Professor of Economics at the Lebanese American University (LAU), and a Senior Fellow at the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies.Ali Abboud is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the American University of Beirut.Ola Sidani is a Program Coordinator at the Crisis Observatory research initiative at the American University of Beirut. She is a development economist and public policy expert.