GovernanceMar 14, 2023
REFORM MONITOR | Explaining the 3RF in the Wake of the Beirut Blast
- Christelle Barakat
As part of its advocacy efforts towards building a people-centered and sustainable recovery from the Beirut port explosion and its endeavors to promote inclusive and equitable social justice, as well as foster trust between individuals, entities, and the Lebanese government, the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS) partnered with Transparency International (TI) and its local chapter, Transparency International Lebanon – No Corruption, to issue “The Reform Monitor.” The topics covered by the monitor are linked to the areas of reform, recovery, and reconstruction (3RF). The monitor falls within the Building Integrity and National Accountability in Lebanon (BINA’) project, which is funded by the European Union. At the end of December 2022, the overall framework was reviewed for evaluation and adaptation purposes based on the closeout of the first phase, with foreseen updates underway. The views expressed in the monitor do not necessarily reflect those of the donor.
WHAT'S THE ISSUE AT HAND?
4 August 2020 was a critical moment in Lebanese history. Indeed, the Beirut port explosion which took place on this date generated significant material, structural, and emotional damage that Beirut and Lebanon are still attempting to heal to this day. During the few hours, days, and weeks following the explosion, individuals and civil society organizations rushed to respond to the pressing needs of those who were most directly impacted by the blast. They volunteered to clean up the damage, offered their expertise for the reconstruction process, and provided medical services to treat less critical injuries.
Simultaneously, aid began pouring in from international organizations, Lebanese expatriates, private companies, foreign governments, and universities. This aid took the form of cash payments, as well as food boxes and hygiene kits. Hashtags were also created, such as #PrayforLebanon, to direct donors towards helping civil society.
Reform, recovery, and reconstruction from such a catastrophe require a long-term timeframe, which must address emotional and psychological healing from trauma, in addition to the material recovery of damages. Reconstruction encompasses businesses, infrastructure, essential public services, apartments, and houses, and extends beyond these to monuments or buildings and building facades that were imbued with a historical significance for the city and formed part of its heritage. The port explosion further made a dent in the already deteriorating economy by temporarily disrupting and paralyzing Beirut’s most vibrant areas, including businesses headquartered in its downtown, commercial port activity, as well as restaurants, stores, and nightlife, notably in the areas of Mar Mikhael and Gemmayzeh.
Reform was long overdue, particularly as large numbers of Lebanese had been consistently protesting corruption and demanding structural change since October 2019. The explosion made reform more critical and coupled it with demands for accountability. The Lebanese population wanted to know what caused this, who was responsible, how to prevent it from reoccurring, and to hold those who were responsible accountable for their actions.
The 3RF Framework
It was against this background that the World Bank, European Union (EU), and the United Nations (UN) began developing the Lebanon Reform, Recovery, and Reconstruction Framework. Commonly referred to as the 3RF, it was initiated through a joint initiative between the EU, UN, World Bank, Lebanese government, and civil society organizations. The framework prioritizes the reinstitution of people’s trust in the Lebanese government, as well as the need to foster more collaborative governance. Simultaneously, it aims to empower civil society organizations to contribute to policymaking and adopt a needs-based and people-centered approach in their programming (EU, UN, and World Bank, 2020).
Launched on 4 December 2020 for a period of 18 months, the 3RF put the residents at the heart of its response, particularly those most impacted by the explosion—over 200 people died and 6,500 were injured, in addition to hundreds of destroyed housing units, which left approximately 300,000 people homeless (United Nations Development Program, 2022).
The 3RF acts as a bridge between humanitarian assistance and efforts targeting recovery and reconstruction, ultimately leading to sustainable development moving in tandem with much needed reforms. At its heart are the principles of accountability, inclusion, and transparency. Social justice concerns and the need for structural reforms are two key components deeply reflected within the framework, along with the need to rebuild the social contract between citizens and public institutions.
Consultative Group and Independent Oversight Body
The 3RF was designed collaboratively following consultations with the Lebanese government, civil society, private sector, international community, grassroots organizations, among others. Overall, the consultations included 40 Stakeholder Feedback and Engagement Meetings, which brought together more than 300 varied stakeholders from all walks of life and sectors (World Bank Group, EU, and UN, 2020). The aim was to adopt a collaborative and inclusive process representing the voices of all stakeholders within Lebanon and leveraging their strengths, particularly to ensure transparency and allow for checks and balances, monitoring, and accountability.
The Consultative Group guides the 3RF’s strategies, spearheads policy dialogue, and coordinates aid. It includes the Lebanese government, civil society organizations, donors, and the private sector, and holds quarterly meetings. The inclusion of these actors makes this group more representative of the Lebanese society and brings together the necessary partnerships, expertise, and strengths to guide the 3RF, while incorporating the needs of the public and private sectors, civil society organizations, and individuals.
Complementing this group is the Independent Oversight Body spearheaded by 6 civil society organizations to ensure accountability, monitoring, and transparency during the implementation of the 3RF. It also issues opinions and recommendations for further progress on policy and reform (UN-Lebanon, 2022). Current members of the Independent Oversight Body include the Lebanese Association for Taxpayers’ Rights (ALDIC), the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH), Kulluna Irada, Transparency International Lebanon - No Corruption (active member until February 2023), the Maharat Foundation, and Nusaned. A 3RF Technical Team and Secretariat also assists with daily operations including coordination, monitoring, and oversight.
Tracks and Strategic Pillars
The 3RF encompasses two tracks: Track 1 focuses on vulnerable populations, their immediate needs, and small enterprises impacted by the Beirut blast, and Track 2 oversees governance reforms and reconstruction challenges, including the long-term mobilization of international support. The framework was divided into two tracks to echo its three central goals, with the first goal being people-centered recovery, reflected through Track 1. The second and third goals are reflected through Track 2, with the second goal being reconstruction of assets, infrastructure, and services and the third goal being the complementary implementation of reforms tied to reconstruction to aid in rebuilding the population’s trust in the government, with a focus on enhancing governance.
The 3RF was also developed around four strategic priorities or pillars tying reform, recovery, and reconstruction. The first 3RF pillar revolves around “improving governance and accountability” to help restore trust in the social contract between individuals and governmental institutions. The second pillar relates to “jobs and opportunities,” which in turn assists people in economically rebuilding their lives, homes, and businesses, and in meeting their basic needs. The third one emphasizes “social protection, inclusion, and culture,” echoing a people-centered recovery and allowing individuals to live a life in dignity by enabling them to provide for themselves and their families. This pillar also focuses on reconstruction of monuments having cultural significance to preserve Lebanon’s rich cultural history. Finally, the fourth pillar focuses on “improving services and infrastructure” (World Bank, 2020). This creates a space for the more equitable access to basic needs and resources. It is also linked to the second central goal of the 3RF, which is related to reconstruction.
$584.17 million are required to meet Track 1 needs revolving around a people-centered recovery, while more than $2 billion are needed for reforms and reconstruction. For Track 1, $306 million is allocated towards improving services and infrastructure and around $178.8 million for social protection, inclusion, and culture. As for Track 2, more than $1.01 billion are aimed at social protection, inclusion, and culture, followed by more than $781.88 million allocated to improving services and infrastructure (UN-Lebanon, 2022).
To achieve both tracks and the four strategic pillars, a Lebanon Financing Facility (LFF) was created to receive donor grants towards helping the most vulnerable households and businesses, and encourage multi-stakeholder cooperation. This is because the 3RF seeks “to promote a different way of working,” which fosters equal and equitable access to resources and recovery (United Nations-Lebanon, 2022). This facility is also responsible for monitoring fund disbursement and utilization. Financing will take place over two phases. The first phase focused on people-centered recovery and short-term and urgent needs, thus simultaneously advancing key reforms. This will build for the second phase, which centers on reform and reconstruction in terms of social cohesion, macroeconomic stabilization, private financing, and concessional loans, to put Lebanon back on track towards sustainable development and economic growth (UN-Lebanon, 2022).
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
In addition to the many lives lost, the Beirut port explosion also deeply damaged and destroyed Creative and Cultural Industry (CCI) businesses, including public and private heritage buildings, libraries, museums, theaters and cinemas, and national monuments (World Bank Group, EU, UN, 2020). Critically, the blast eroded people’s trust in the Lebanese government and increased their vulnerability.
The inclusion of the Lebanese government (the public sector), the private sector, the international community, civil society organizations, and grassroots organizations in the 3RF allows for the pooling of knowledge and leverages the different powers and strengths of these varied actors, while ensuring transparency and mutual accountability through checks and balances and monitoring. This collaborative nature also makes the process people-centered and inclusive, as originally intended for the 3RF. In turn, the two-track structure makes the framework more effective. Indeed, Track 1 keeps the focus on the people or individuals so that they remain at the center of the framework. As such, Track 1 emphasizes the aspect of human security and looks at the shorter to medium term. As for Track 2, it stresses reconstruction and reforms, with a focus on physical rebuilding and on strengthening governance. Track 2 adopts a longer-term approach and complements Track 1.
While the 3RF model was originally developed specifically around the Beirut port explosion, it can also serve as a model for future programming tied to overseeing implementation, bridging trust gaps, and bringing actors together. As such, the 3RF model goes beyond recovery, to enable broader interventions for social stability and ensure that the work is done in a transparent, effective, and inclusive manner.
Monitoring the 3RF and other reform, recovery, and reconstruction endeavors in Lebanon is essential to ensure that these programs are meeting their end goals. This monitoring is also necessary to guarantee transparency between donors and implementing organizations, on the one hand, and beneficiaries, on the other. It is also intended to ensure that resources are not squandered, and that the anticipated goals are reached. In addition to the 3RF Independent Oversight Body, the BINA’ project allows TI, Transparency International Lebanon-No Corruption, and LCPS to monitor the 3RF’s implementation by empowering and activating civil society organizations in the realms of accountability, governance, and transparency at both the national and local level.
ReferencesChristelle Barakat is a researcher at the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies. She is a recent Lebanese Fulbright Foreign Student program graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, holding an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies with a concentration on International Peace Development. She completed her BA in Political Science and International Affairs with high distinction from the Lebanese American University. Her areas of interest include conflict analysis and resolution, disarmament, globalization, migration and refugee studies, and women and gender studies.