Bringing Hope And Support To Vulnerable Families In Aarsal
USAID is reducing tension and responding to urgent needs by distributing fuel vouchers to families in need.
“USAID’s support providing fuel vouchers came at the right time. Not only did it respond to urgent needs by keeping people warmer during this cold winter, but it also reassured Lebanese beneficiaries who were feeling abandoned despite carrying the incredible burden and responsibility of sheltering so many refugees,” said Bassel Hujeiri, the Mayor of Aarsal. “This kind of support is even more appreciated with the current economic crisis and the high level of unemployment existing in Aarsal,” added the mayor.
The town of Aarsal, located in northern Beqaa, is close to the Syrian-Lebanese border. Like many villages in that area, Aarsal has been historically underserved and suffers from a severe lack of development. The situation further deteriorated after the outbreak of the Syrian crisis. The town, which has around 50,000 Lebanese inhabitants, currently hosts more than 60,000 refugees. This has generated competition between refugees and Lebanese residents over scarce resources and jobs.
In response to this difficult situation, the USAID Community Support Program (CSP) distributed fuel vouchers to defray the costs of home heating during the cold winter months. During the 2019 winter, CSP supported around 4,250 households, totaling more than 22,000 beneficiaries. The distribution of vouchers took place in coordination with the Aarsal municipality and several fuel stations.
This support has a great impact on the community, including Khadija Hujjeiri, a disabled woman who lives alone in a very modest house, Khadija is compelled to stay home as she is unable to work and relies on her relatives and neighbors for financial support. “I am not sure what I would have done without this support, this assistance allowed me to stay warm and reduce some of my daily burdens,” said Khadija.
By intervening in Aarsal, CSP managed to respond directly to the population’s needs, while also managing to diffuse tensions caused by local competition over resources.
The Community Support Program (CSP) in Lebanon is an $80 million 5-7 year activity funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It is designed to provide a broad range of support to underserved and vulnerable communities to improve the delivery of essential services and enhance economic opportunities, primarily in Lebanon’s North, South, and Beqaa regions.