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Assessing vulnerabilities for urban recovery solutions in Beirut post-explosion: The case of Mar Mikhael neighbourhood

PROCOL Lebanon Infrastructure

Pietrostefani, Elisabetta; Dabaj, Joana; Sleiman, Yara; Jallad, Mayssa; Maassarani, Sara; Charalambous, Efrosini; (2022)

On the 4th of August 2020, a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the port of the city of Beirut exploded, causing at least 200 deaths, over 7,000 injuries, US$3.8-4.6 billion in material damages, and the displacement of over 300,000 people. Lebanon was already suffering from a rapidly escalating financial crisis, further aggravated by the outbreak of COVID-19. This report explores the changing landscape of local vulnerabilities from pre-crisis to post-explosion focusing on the neighbourhood of Mar Mikhael, one of the areas that was heavily affected by the blast. It offers an integrated place-based analysis focusing on three of the most relevant indicators of vulnerability in Mar Mikhael: livelihoods and employment, housing security, and mental health and well-being. Vulnerabilities were investigated following the Prosperity Index work developed by the RELIEF Centre in Lebanon. We find that the current economic situation has impacted the financial wellbeing of households at every income level, albeit more so for lower-income households. NGOs have led in the assessment of building damage across all blast-affected neighbourhoods, while public bodies have been selective in their building-assessment. Housing in Mar Mikhael has on average become less affordable with fewer residents benefiting from old rent contracts. Overall, we found reduced feelings of happiness and safety, along with heightened stress levels. Residents also showed a preference for outdoor recreation activities in the neighbourhood to deal with stress, depression, or trauma post-blast, presenting opportunities for local CBOs and NGOs implementing local interventions.

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