UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


IGP RELIEF Centre awarded funding for research on urban recovery solutions in Beirut, Lebanon.

18 December 2020

The RELIEF Centre will assess vulnerabilities for urban recovery solutions in the Mar Mikhael and Karantina neighbourhoods in Beirut, Lebanon.

A staircase and a roof top in Mar Mikhael Beirut

Dr Elisabetta Pietrostefani (UCL Institute for Global Prosperity and RELIEF Centre) and Professor Camillo Boano (UCL Development Planning Unit and RELIEF Centre) have been granted £97,000 from the GCRF: UCL Internal Small Grants. The IGP-RELIEF Centre will use these funds to assess vulnerabilities for urban recovery solutions in the Mar Mikhael and Karantina neighbourhoods in Beirut, Lebanon. This work on vulnerability and urban recovery will be carried out in collaboration with Catalytic Action and the AUB Beirut Urban Lab.

On 4th August 2020, a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the port of the city of Beirut exploded, causing at least 177 deaths, over 6,000 injuries, US$15 billion in property damages, and the displacement of 300,000 people. Lebanon was already suffering from a rapidly escalating financial crisis, further aggravated by the outbreak of COVID-19.

This new RELIEF Centre project explores the changing landscape of local vulnerabilities from pre-crisis to post-explosion in Mar Mikhael, one of the areas that were most heavily affected by the blast. It builds on the Prosperity Index work that the IGP-RELIEF Centre has been conducting in Lebanon for the past three years, focusing on livelihoods, housing needs and mental wellbeing to address the most pressing issues and needs of the inhabitants of several neighbourhoods in Lebanon. This project will bring together urban economists, social scientists and urban designers to collect quantitative survey data, as well as community consultations data through focus groups and semi-structured interviews. The project aims to co-design a pilot intervention with local communities and key actors to address local vulnerabilities and act as a catalyst for more significant community-based recovery within the larger urban recovery framework in response to the Beirut blast.

The RELIEF Centre is a UKRI funded project looking at pathways to prosperity in the context of mass displacement in Lebanon, a country that has experienced the influx of millions of refugees over decades. The RELIEF Centre, led by Professor Henrietta Moore, has been operating as a multi-university partnership in the UK and Lebanon since 2017.