The Promises and Pitfalls of Disaster Aid Platforms: A Case Study of Lebanon’s 3RF

Mona Harb, Sophie Bloemeke, Sami Atallah, Sami Zoughaib - 26.03.2024

As part of the IDRC collaborative research project investigating actors and governance of the post-blast recovery with The Policy Initiative, BUL co-director Mona Harb and affiliate researcher Sophie Bloemeke co-authored with TPI’s director Sami Atallah and researcher manager Sami Zoughaib a journal article entitled “The Promises and Pitfalls of Disaster Aid Platforms: A Case Study of Lebanon’s 3RF” in Disaster Prevention and Management (first online 26 March 2024). The abstract of the article is pasted below; the article can be accessed for a fee on this link. For those who would like a free copy, please email Mona Harb: [email protected].  

Harb M., Bloemeke S., Atallah S. and Zoughaib S. (2024), "The promises and pitfalls of disaster aid platforms: a case study of Lebanon’s 3RF", Disaster Prevention and Management,  Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



Using critical disaster studies and state theory, the authors assess the disaster aid platform named Lebanon Reconstruction, Reform and Recovery Framework (3RF) that was put in place by international donors in the aftermath of the Beirut Port Blast in August 2020, in order to examine the effectiveness of its inclusive decision-making architecture, as well as its institutional building and legislative reform efforts.

The paper uses the case study approach and relies on two original data sets compiled by the authors, using desk reviews of academic literature and secondary data, in addition to 24 semi-structured expert interviews and participant observation for two years.

The aid platform appears innovative, participatory and effectively functioning toward recovery and reform. However, in practice, the government dismisses CSOs, undermines reforms and dodges state building, whereas the 3RF is structured in incoherent ways and operates according to conflicting logics, generating inertia and pitfalls that hinder effective participatory governance, prevent institutional building, and delay the making of projects.

Research limitations/implications:
The research contributes to critical scholarship as it addresses an important research gap concerning disaster aid platforms’ institutional design and governance that are under-studied in critical disaster studies and political studies. It also highlights the need for critical disaster studies to engage with state theory and vice-versa.

Practical implications:
The research contributes to evaluations of disaster recovery processes and outcomes. It highlights the limits of disaster aid platforms’ claims for participatory decision-making, institutional-building and reforms.

The paper amplifies critical disaster studies, through the reflexive analysis of a case-study of an aid platform.