Bring the Planners Back! Displacement-Triggered Patterns of Urbanization and City Responses

Carla El-Hage, Mona Fawaz, Mona Harb - May 2021

This Policy Brief, published by the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS), maps patterns of city settlement in three mid-size localities in Lebanon: Zahle, Saida, and Halba. The authors identify three types of urban geometries that exist in each city in varying degrees: neighborhood densification, housing compounds, and tented settlements. These were predominantly created through ad-hoc, fragmented measures adopted by an array of actors such as international organizations, municipal councils, informal service providers, and local organizations. The authors argue that, in order to accommodate refugee populations in urban environments in a more efficient and effective way, urban planning is necessary to improve living conditions and alleviate the negative impacts of the influx of refugee populations on host communities. They offer recommendations on how this urban planning could take shape. This publication is an output of a collaborative research project co-led by Sami Atallah, former director at the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS); Mona Harb and Mona Fawaz, research directors at the Beirut Urban Lab (BUL, American University of Beirut); and Rabie Nasr, director at the Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR). The project is titled: ‘Lebanese Municipalities and Syrian Refugees: Building Capacity and Promoting Agency.’ This work was carried out with support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa, Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of IDRC or its Board of Governors. You can read the full text on LCPS's website.