NEGOTIATING FRAMEWORK AND COOPERATION INITIATIVES
1. Ordinary Cooperation Programme:
The cooperation programme currently being implemented is defined by Agreements (1997-98) which envisage aid credits amounting to over €132 million (mainly in the water, environmental protection, cultural heritage and agro-industry sectors) and donor aid totalling about €5 million, for use mainly in the health and agricultural sectors.
The main projects envisaged by the cooperation agreements currently in force concern the water sector, which absorbs the lion’s share of the available funding. Worthy of note is the initiative for the sewage treatment plant for the town of Zahle (€23 million euros), a contract awarded to Degrémont. The first tranche of the funding, amounting to €10.6 million euros, is due to be delivered soon.
- drinking water and sewage network (€39.5 million). The credit for this project was approved by a decree issued by the Ministry for the Economy and Finance in April 2007, with the agreement itself signed last November;
- Tripoli/Koura drinking water network (€6 million), for which the agreement was signed recently.
In the technology up-grade sector, an initiative currently under way envisages the supply of IT equipment and operational programmes to the Central Bank, a project being handled by Elsag. To this should be added a training component, again funded through an aid credit, worth €5.6 million. Funding for this programme, which is not included in the current Cooperation Protocol, was granted in view of the urgency of the situation described by the local authorities.
As regards donor aid, delivered in full or currently being implemented, the following programmes are worthy of note.
- health sector: refresher courses for nursing staff (over €1 million); improvements to Health Ministry institutional structure (€500,000); creation of a central laboratory for the Health Ministry (€800,000) and support for a basic national healthcare plan (€3.471 million);
- agricultural sector: integrated agricultural development in the Baalbeck/Hermel region (€2 million) to replace the illegal crops that were developed during the last conflict; and the production of certified vegetable products (€1.2 million), a programme entrusted jointly to the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute in Bari, with its International Centre for Advanced Agronomic Studies, and the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute;
- to respond to the Lebanese Government’s appeal for measures to combat poverty and provide support in the most depressed parts of the country, since 2006 a UNDP initiative entitled “Socio-Economic Development of Depressed Areas” (€6.7 million) has been under way. The programme is part of the new approach to Italy/Lebanon cooperation and operates both in northern Lebanon (Akkar and Minieh, Dinniyeh and Tripoli-Bab el-Tebbaneh), and in the south of the country (Marjeyoun, Bint Jbeil, Nabatiyeh, Sour, Rashaya, Hasbaya and West Bekaa), areas formerly occupied by Israel. The initiative is linked to a similar multilateral exercise (ART-GOLD) coordinated by UNDP in collaboration with UNESCO, UNIFEM and other UN bodies. Its goal is to channel the input from the various donors and participants in decentralised cooperation initiatives with a view to coordinating initiatives to promote governance and development. An initial allocation of €2.7 million was transferred to UNDP in August 2006.
Forthcoming initiatives already approved
A second programme to combat poverty, approved in February 2006 and intended to provide social-economic support for producers and their households in Lebanon’s marginal olive producing regions (€3.3 million), has been entrusted to the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute. However, implementation has been delayed as a result of political events in the country and the on-going political situation.
2. EXTRAORDINARY COOPERATION PROGRAMME
1st Extraordinary grant. In August 2006, in response to the appeal launched by the Lebanese Government during the Stockholm Conference, Italy allocated €30 million to tackle the emergency and the need for regeneration and reconstruction following the conflict of summer 2006.
This sum was shared out as follows:
- directly managed emergency projects (€15 million). These envisage the involvement of Italian NGOs for social-economic initiatives (education, services, health, environment) and initiatives in priority sectors indicated by the Lebanese Government;
- through the multilateral channel (€10 million) to finance the activities of the UN agencies and other international organisations (UNMAS, UNICEF, CIHEAM-IAM, UNFPA, UNRWA and UNDP);
- support for the Lebanese state budget (€5 million) to repair the damage suffered by the national road infrastructure
2nd Extraordinary grant. As part of the support announced at the Paris Conference of January 2007 (€120 million), an extraordinary allocation of €30 million was made available for 2007-08 and is currently being delivered. This extraordinary funding, arranged through Law 38 of 29 March 2007 on funding for peace missions, was allocated to donor aid initiatives in the social sector (health, community development, vocational training, support for micro-entrepreneurship) and in the agricultural/environmental sector (agricultural innovation, transformation and commercialisation of agricultural products and repair and recovery of infrastructure in the water and energy fields). They include a strong vocational training element.
In detail, the €30 million can be broken down as follows:
- €9 million for a directly managed initiative for the implementation of emergency actions (“ROSS 2”) with a high socio-economic content (education, services health, environment, construction of networks for a national reconciliation dialogue). These are to be implemented in the Bekaa Valley, to the south of Beirut and in the south of the country;
- €1 million for an Expert Fund for technical assistance activities, as envisaged by law 38/2007;
- €10 million for activities envisaging direct support for the state budget and the National “Recovery, Reconstruction and Reform” Programme. These are intended essentially for basic services for the population (access to drinking water, health services, and social protection networks);
- €10 million for initiatives on behalf of the Palestinian population in the refugee camps and the Lebanese population living in the vicinity of these camps, to enable those occupational groups most affected by the conflict of summer 2006 to return to employment and promote the sustainable development of the agricultural sector. To this end, funding has been provided for the work of the following international bodies: UNRWA (€2 million), ILO (€2 million), FAO (€3 million), UNFPA (€0.7 million), UNDP (€1.3 million) and UNMAS (€1 million).
An agreement was signed by the Italian and Lebanese Governments last November to ensure that the funding under the third and fourth points is used correctly.