Today the U.S. Embassy-funded Building Alliance for Local Advancement, Development, and Investment (BALADI) program launched the second call for applications for funding for municipal development projects at the Beirut Symposium in Sin El Fil. The launch took place in the presence of Ambassador David Hale and Head of the Office of Common Administration at the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities General Elias Khoury.
The BALADI project assists municipalities through the provision of in-kind competitive grants and technical assistance to implement community development activities. This support enhances the ability of municipalities to address long-term development needs. The BALADI Project is implemented throughout Lebanon by Caritas Lebanon and the Rene Moawad Foundation.
During the launch, Ambassador Hale voiced the support of the American government for Lebanon’s development and prosperity, emphasizing that through BALADI, the United States is committed to providing Lebanese from every community with access to reliable public services and active participation in local decision-making.
In 2013, the BALADI program held its first call for municipal applications, which resulted in the selection of 17 projects from 15 districts. These projects, totaling $3.6 million, involve 58 municipalities collaborating with 49 local organizations to benefit and improve the livelihoods of more than 100,000 people by the end of the program in 2017. Over the course of the five-year, $26 million initiative, BALADI will support more than 40 new municipal development projects in Lebanon.
The application period will open from January 15 to March 5, 2015, during which 26 orientation sessions on the application submission process will be held in all communities across Lebanon. More information on the orientation sessions and how to submit an application can be found at the BALADI website http://baladi-lebanon.org/en
Below are Ambassador Hale’s remarks from the event.
Good morning General Khoury, distinguished guests, mayors and members of the municipal councils, our partners, and ladies and gentlemen. I am pleased to be here today to celebrate a key milestone in our long-standing commitment to Lebanon’s stability and prosperity. The launch of BALADI’s second round for municipal development projects is a testament to our commitment to support the resilience of local communities.
“BALADI” stands for the Building Alliances for Local Advancement and Development program. Created in 2012, it is an important new tool to advance our Lebanese-American partnership in support of Lebanon’s development. Through BALADI, we work in partnership with municipalities to support programs started, designed and implemented by the municipalities themselves.
In the first call for municipal applications in 2013, seventeen local economic development projects were selected across Lebanon, from Akkar in the North to Tyre in the South. With the BALADI program’s funding and technical support, 58 municipalities were engaged in designing and implementing milestone growth projects that reflect the tremendous diversity of Lebanon and the many ways BALADI is making a difference.
Whether it is irrigation canals in Akkar, a blood testing dispensary in Minieh-Dinieh, a handicrafts production center in Tyre, or a cold storage facility for apples in Ainata, these projects will improve the lives of more than 100,000 Lebanese. They will not only boost rural economies across Lebanon, but also improve public services, reinstate the sense of community, and help the next generation build upon these initiatives.
The BALADI program reflects our common belief in the vital role of municipalities in shaping a prosperous future for the Lebanese people. The United States has worked alongside municipalities and local communities from all areas of Lebanon for more than two decades. Our goal is to help them realize their potential and to create opportunities in education, microfinance, water and sanitation, agriculture, and good governance.
Through this enduring partnership, Lebanese from every community have benefited from access to reliable public services and active participation in local decision-making. And for many Lebanese, USAID projects have resulted in new jobs and support for local small businesses through training and equipment, which have led to higher incomes and brighter futures.
I would like to commend the efforts of Lebanon’s municipalities at large, and especially those represented here today. You have always been the backbone of Lebanon’s economy and you have plenty to be proud of.
We have seen first-hand the way you managed to pool your resources together to brave the storms that the country has faced, whether in rebuilding after Lebanon’s own civil war or containing the spillover effect of the Syria crisis. Your resilience is exemplary and your determination is second to none. We share with you a compelling and urgent desire to make Lebanon a better place to live and work.
Today, we are opening the door more widely. As a result, more municipalities will be undertaking development projects to better meet the needs of their communities. More importantly, these new and additional projects will help municipalities deal with the new and heavy burdens arising from the Syrian conflict.
Over the past several years, municipalities have been facing ever growing social and economic challenges, with the arrival of Syrian refugees. In this latest group of projects BALADI will focus on efforts that provide what Lebanese host communities have asked for and that have an immediate, sustainable impact. The BALADI program will assist more than 40 new municipal projects in the coming three years.
Thank you all for being here today. I wish you the best of success as you work side by side to make a positive difference by revitalizing your economy and reinvigorating that sense of pride into the heart of your communities. By fostering this community spirit, we can contribute to the peace and prosperity of Lebanon so that it remains as the late poet Said Akl described it, a nation which “has all the glory under its soil.”