For over 75 years, NEF has worked with the people of Lebanon, providing technical and financial assistance that have benefitted hundreds of thousands through improved education, income, agriculture and food security, rural development, and access to credit.
A Legacy of Innovation & Impact
Working in coordination with local organizations, NEF’s efforts have been directed toward building enduring local institutions by providing grants, technical training, and staff. NEF continued to strengthen local institutions from 1930 well into the Civil War by providing funding and long-term technical support.
In 1930, NEF worked with the American University of Beirut (AUB) to establish the Institute of Rural Life, which still exists today as AUB’s Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences. The Institute was designed to work directly with farmers to improve crop production and animal husbandry. It also organizes agricultural education for schools, child welfare programs, and farmers’ cooperatives.
In the 1980s, NEF began supporting a range of local development projects in coordination with Lebanese civil society organizations (CSOs). These projects focused on vocational education, agricultural and rural economic development, and micro-credit.
Since that time, working with and through local organizations has been a cornerstone of NEF’s work in Lebanon.
To learn more about NEF’s legacy in Lebanon, please select one of the project areas.
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Livelihood Support for Syrian Refugees and Lebanese
The project will build the capacity of community-based organizations to serve as resources for refugees and vulnerable Lebanese and establish information and support hubs, support tailored skills development and income-generating activities among vulnerable refugees and Lebanese, and support adolescents to develop financial literacy, savings habits, and skills.
This project aims to reduce vulnerability among 1,830 Syrian refugees and 1,220 Lebanese by expanding access to economic and social resources.
Restoring Food Security & Building Resilience for Syrian Refugees and Members of their Host Communities
Over 18 months, NEF will improve access to food and increase economic resilience of Syrian and Lebanese families at risk of harmful survival strategies by: (1) providing training, equipment and services to introduce urban agriculture (rooftop and balcony gardens, solar food driers); (2) increasing income generation and economic opportunity among 50 at-risk mothers through skills development training and coaching ; and (3) reducing the risk of early marriage and exploitative work for 100 adolescent girls through access to financial education, creation of savings accounts, and peer support.
Project launched in September 2015; outreach to community-based organizations and refugees is ongoing; 4 demonstration sites for introducing urban agriculture techniques have been established in Bourj Hammoud, 38 families have been trained in urban agriculture, 9 women have been provided with skills trainings, and 26 participants are receiving trainings on financial literacy and savings.
People We Serve
Our work is based on a conviction that, to play an active role in the development of their communities and countries, people need opportunities and tools: the knowledge to participate in civic and economic life, a voice in public decisions that affect their wellbeing, and a means of making a meaningful living.
Vicky, a Syrian refugee now living in Lebanon, is a married mother of three and the proud operator of a successful catering business that she runs out of her home.
"We were sitting at home, my daughter and I, when a fired propane gas cylinder fell on our balcony causing all the glass in the room to break. Pieces of broken glass passed in front of our faces, but thank God we were not hurt. It was not a happy time. We got our bags and escaped to Lebanon."
After a number of months in Lebanon, Vicky's husband was able to find work. However, Vicky needed to find a way to also earn an income to assist with paying off the debts they had accrued, while still being able to stay home with their 10-year-old daughter. Vicky focused on her love for cooking and catering, and attending an NEF business development training as a part of NEF's project aimed at building the economic resilience of Syrian refugee and vulnerable Lebanese families.
When explaining what she was able to gain from the training, Vicky said "There are some very important things that I was not aware of, like how to do accounting, how to look after the business, and that accounting is as important as the product."
With the cash assistance Vicky received upon approval of her business plan, she was able to buy enough ingredients and supplies to begin production and start expanding her business.
"This project has helped me personally, because I was always afraid that I could never do this business, that it would not succeed here in Lebanon." She continued, "I began feeling stronger, because I saw this business could succeed, contrary to what I thought. If a woman is determined to d something, she can succeed in it."
While Vicky hopes that they can soon move into a home that is in a better condition than where they are currently, she is proud that her and her husband have been able t pay off all of their debt and are now able to care for their family's needs.
Fattoum, a 35-year-old woman fled Syria with her family to Lebanon. “We left everything behind, we came here with nothing.” Her husband does not have a job, and together they have four children—one with cancer. “Putting a meal on the table is a continuous challenge, the amount of money we spend on rent and medicine leaves us almost nothing for food.”
With NEF’s help, Fattoum is receiving training in small home-based business development and urban agriculture so that she can grow fruits and vegetables at home.
“I am an illiterate Syrian refugee woman. This program empowers me as a woman to become more productive and self-reliant. Our living situation is in dire need of such projects to lift us out of the extremely bad situations we are facing.”
“Growing vegetables at home will help us save some money that can be spent on other things like medicine. NEF’s trainings will help me stand on my feet.”
Women’s participation in the labor market continues to be necessary for helping reduce poverty and drive the economy as a whole. NEF assists Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and vulnerable members of their host communities, to achieve self-reliance through urban agriculture, small business development trainings, peer support networks, and savings and loan associations.
“NEF’s trainings provide us with a platform to meet new Syrian and Lebanese woman. The program gives us hope that we can provide a better life for our family.”
"We left Syria under circumstances of war." Rokan, a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon with her husband and daughter, shares her story after fleeing Syrian for Lebanon. "We haven't been back to our home since."
"We came here and had difficulties finding housing. We lived with four families in one house. The second difficulty was work. Wherever I went, doors closed in my face," Rokan said. "But then I went to the Near East Foundation and they helped me. I know how to work, but lacked the equipment and the materials because I had no money. I chose to make confectionaries from home and I was surprised by the number of customers I found. NEF helped me regain self-confidence and peace of mind, which I had lost coming from a war zone. They help women see they have an important role and a right to participate in society.
NEF is working with vulnerable women in Jordan and Lebanon to provide business and vocational training programs and cash-assistance to achieve economic stability. NEF programs have helped refugee households increase their income by 75 percent on average.