The social protection system in Lebanon is described as a mosaic of scattered schemes with low coverage and lack of coordination. These schemes range from social insurance programmes for public servants and for military and private sector workers, to syndicate pension plans and small social assistance programmes. The country lacks a coherent national social protection system, which has led so far to fragmentation and duplication of assistance while coverage and provision of protection to the poorest and most vulnerable remain inadequate.
Many individuals, especially children, women, the elderly and people with disabilities, rely on unsustainable sources of income including informal employment and family support. Without social protection reform, they will continue to be trapped in the cycle of poverty.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has put the country at a greater disadvantage, as socio-economic shocks have further exposed vulnerabilities and increased pressure on livelihoods and on the economic security of thousands in Lebanon. The situation worsened further with the Beirut port blast of August 2020 and the compounded shocks of the ongoing socio-economic crisis.
In recent months, several civil society groups have come together to discuss ideas, needs and recommendations to inform social protection reform in the country. In particular, a group of social protection experts from diversified academic, professional, and political backgrounds, a second group of workers’ organizations, a third group of organizations working on ageing, and a fourth group working on disability issues discussed the social impact of the economic and financial crises, assessed social protection needs, and identified priorities for the long, medium and immediate terms. Their deliberations resulted in four position papers that describe Lebanon’s current social protection gaps and propose concrete actions to create an inclusive and rights-based social protection system, with a focus on those most affected by the crisis, including the elderly, people with disabilities and workers, more generally.
The positions and recommendations of these four groups are presented in the following documents:
- A Bridge Toward a Comprehensive National Social Protection Plan, Expert Group Position Paper
- Steps towards an inclusive and rights-based social protection system for all: The feasibility of a non-contributory social pension for Lebanon, Organizations Working on Ageing
- Towards a Rights-Based and Comprehensive Social Protection System for Lebanon: Supporting the inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities, Disability Organizations Group Position Paper
- Towards protecting socio-econmic rights and promoting economic inclusion of all workers, Workers’ Organizations Group Position Paper
The work of these groups was supported by the ILO and UNICEF in partnership with the Beyond Group (BRD), as part of the UN Joint SDG Fund programme titled "Transforming national dialogue for the development of an inclusive national Social Protection system for Lebanon," and the PROSPECTS Project titled: Inclusive jobs and education for refugees and host communities in Lebanon. With sincere appreciation for the contributions from the European Union and Governments of Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Monaco, Kingdom of Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation for the transformative movement towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.
Originally published on ILO