Lebanon: Youth Community Empowerment Program
The Youth Community Empowerment Program, funded by Global Opportunities Fund of the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office, is a targeted intervention to address the causes of radicalization among young people in Lebanon. IREX Europe built the capacity of one key youth-focused Lebanese civil society organization to undertake community mobilisation approaches to mitigating conflict, and then support its work to spread this expertise to an additional six to eight Lebanese CSOs. In addition to raising expertise, specific community mobilisation projects was undertaken. By targeting pluralistic CSOs for conflict mitigation through community mobilisation, IREX Europe expects to strengthen the emerging portions of civil society that seek to promote ethnic and religious tolerance among diverse communities.
Lebanon is a young country; Lebanese under 25 constitute more than half the population. Several civil society organisations (CSOs) formed by young Lebanese work across the sectarian divide to promote tolerance and pluralism. These organisations are keys to influencing the young people who have the potential to mitigate – or foment – conflicts. However, the emerging CSOs need significant institutional support and programmatic skills development in the area of conflict mitigation through community mobilisation. Such an approach focuses on common projects — repairing a school, cleaning a park, constructing a football field – that can mobilize youth from diverse communities for a common goal. This prepares young people for future cooperation and lessens tensions and divergences.
1. A Lebanese civil society organization has been established as a centre of expertise in using community mobilisation to work with young people to promote tolerance and pluralism. Youth facilitators and project managers have been trained in community mobilisation techniques, and Lebanon-appropriate applications of the methodologies shaped for sharing with additional youth-focused civil society organizations.
2. Six to eight youth-focused CSOs have been enabled to design and conduct conflict mitigation projects through community mobilisation approaches.
3. Five youth-oriented community mobilisation projects have been conducted through mentored grants, targeting young people with diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds from communities with histories of inter-communal tensions.
4. A youth NGO retreat has been convened to promote expertise sharing and networks