Lebanon: the importance of resilience

Labour market insertion
An essay from Hassan Bugnard, Country Director Swisscontact Lebanon27.04.2021
The first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of "resilience" is the ability of a person to get through difficult circumstances by mobilizing their own resources. In the complex context of Lebanon, resilience fits this definition and requires tapping into one's skills, and shifting some paradigms to gain an opportunity, not just the ability to bounce back from the pressure. This willingness to work on oneself is equated with resilience and the drive to accept change depends on the strength of the opportunities.
Participants during the car mechanics training, Beddawi Camp in Tripoli.

The past two years have tested the resilience of everyone, whether it is the ordinary Lebanese citizen, the displaced people who have found refuge here, the businesses that are struggling to keep their doors open, or the organizations that operate in Lebanon to help maintain prospects. From our perspective, as Swisscontact's office in Lebanon, resilience is present on three levels.

A shift in focus

Resilience is present at the stakeholder and partner level. Swisscontact has sought to support all stakeholders by embracing innovation and new perspectives such as the business support perspective. This shift in focus required everyone to go back to the drawing board, to consider the real prospects for the participants and to maintain the quality of their inputs. This was a challenge for many of the implementing partners, as most of their team members, such as the coaches, had only basic computer skills and had to look for the best ways to translate their skills into new intervention models. This is what resilience is all about, when everything seems impossible, when voices are closed... it is this will to overcome the obstacles by innovating, by creating.

Tripoli: DROPS participants carrying plants to distribute to households during the difficult financial crisis so they can grow their own vegetables at home.

Developing skills despite a difficult situation

Another area of resilience is at the project level, namely at the level of SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and participants. It is one thing to offer TVET (technical vocational education and training) to young people, but time has shown that training alone is not enough to get a job or even to have a better chance of being shortlisted for (limited market) employment opportunities. After all, many university graduates are unemployed, and they have been trained or educated by higher education institutions. Therefore, in this case, Swisscontact supports the participants in their resilience building by accompanying them to the market, helping them in identifying available opportunities, enabling them to consolidate additional skills to get income generating jobs. Despite all the challenges the participants faced during the coaching cycle, they continue to develop their skills because they are guided to real opportunities, which act as catalysts for their resilience.

Similarly, much of the resilience of the SMEs is attributed to the project helping to provide access to new markets, supporting them in their deployment so that they can become competitive in the market. Presenting these opportunities to SMEs encourages them to develop their skills, regardless of the economic situation. That is resilience.

The team behind

Finally, with everything that happened in the context, the team also had to be resilient. Everyone had also felt the effects of the difficult components at both the private and professional levels, and the desire to go beyond personal balance to find qualitative solutions required taking it upon oneself to mobilize one's own resources.

Meeting in Tripoli with the partner after the Health Lockdown.

In Lebanon, Swisscontact implements a project which is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA).