Protective Facemask Production through Cash for Work Activities

Community Based Protective Facemask Production through Cash for Work Activities in Marjayoun and Hasbaya
Employment, livelihoods & entrepreneurship

Protective Facemask Production through Cash for Work Activities

Community Based Protective Facemask Production through Cash for Work Activities in Marjayoun and Hasbaya

A Syrian cash work beneficiary holding produced masks before they are sanitized and packaged for distribution.

The project in brief

Implemented by

AVSI Foundation – Lebanon




Project start date: 09/2020

The project ended June 2021 after a no cost extension. It was an emergency response project and will not be renewed.


The economic and financial crisis coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic stretched Lebanon’s public infrastructure beyond capacity deepening the socio-economic vulnerabilities of refugees and host communities. In response, AVSI conducted a rapid needs assessment and addressed the urgent need for cash and personal protective equipment through a 9-month emergency project. The project’s main objective was to produce 100,000 face masks through Cash for Work for refugees and vulnerable Lebanese.

Project aims 

Goal: Mitigate the health, social, and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable individuals in Marjayoun and Hasbaya, including Syrian refugees, by improving access to protective face masks while also building technical skills and income.


  • Objective 1: To provide rapid income generating opportunities focusing on COVID-19 prevention to refugees and host communities.
  • Objective 2: To increase the availability of protective masks for the local communities.

The sewing project provides support to women. Thankfully, we are also benefiting, emotionally, spiritually, and economically

- Khawla Al Issa, beneficiary.

Resources used 

  • Project funds from the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).
  • The project was designed in close collaboration with UNHCR and UNICEF’s emergency response in Informal Tented Settlements (ITS).
  • A clear “Cash for work” framework at Livelihood cluster level.

Main activities of the Good Practice

  • Technical trainings on production, sanitization, and packaging
  • Cash for Work to produce face masks, sanitization, and packaging
  • Face mask distribution: Masks were primarily distributed to project beneficiaries and their households, followed by vulnerable population of the ITSs of Marjayoun and Hasbaya. Distribution to the community was done after discussing the need with local stakeholders and humanitarian actors.

Challenges and how they were overcome


COVID-19 and economic crisis: procurement took more time than expected, due to shortage of fabrics and need to procure sewing machines with detailed specs; production was delayed due to the suspension of activities in several project sites as a result of COVID exposure. The project also experienced additional delays distributing masks due to the shortage of fuel in Lebanon. 

How they were overcome

Activities were suspended in certain locations to mitigate the spread of the virus. In future projects, AVSI will include a contingency fund in its budget. This will be used to cover COVID-19 related expenses for beneficiaries that do not have the resources to do so (e.g., PCR testing and hospital transportation costs).

Working in shifts functioned well for the project. This also helped mitigate the spread of the virus.

AVSI requested a no cost extension to complete its activities that were delayed because of the above-mentioned challenges. The donor was flexible, and the request was approved. 

A woman is sitting at a desk. There are masks on the desk and boxes of packages masks on the floor.

Results of the Good Practice 

  • 130 beneficiaries received cash assistance, 127 were women beneficiaries. The project transferred a total of $65,720 USD. 
  • Beneficiaries significantly increased their sewing technical skills. 
  • 100% of the beneficiaries reported increased capacity to meet their basic needs.
  • 131,700 face masks were produced surpassing the target of 100,000.
  • 3,035 pack of face masks (10 masks per pack) were distributed to the host community (1,616 packs) and refugees living outside the Informal settlement (1,420 packs). 
  • 9,766 packs of face masks were distributed to refugees living inside the informal settlements.
  • 100% of the beneficiaries reported increased feeling of safety towards COVID-19.

How the project meets the GCR Objectives

Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries

AVSI designed this unique emergency project when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak. The project supported local municipalities in mitigating the spread by distributing the produced masks for free to the community. 

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

The technical skills acquired by the refugees and host community, will provide them the opportunity to engage in an income-generating activity leading them to self-reliance and self-development.

We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone

- Mrs. Hoda, beneficiary in Hasbaya sewing workspace.

Next steps 

The project will not be continued or extended.

Further support required for the project to continue or scale up

  • Addition funding: Through the sewing skills the women acquired, they could be involved in advanced sewing activities, namely for winterization, producing cloths for babies, children, and adults, to face the hard winter conditions. In addition, they could train new beneficiaries as peer-to-peer coaching in the masks production. As COVID-19 continue to rise in Lebanon, the refugee population is still reporting not receiving or being able to purchase masks.
  • Strengthen the structure of saving groups: since the cash assistance to women had a great impact on the HH’s livelihoods, a savings group could help beneficiaries launch their own businesses (social businesses are to be encouraged in this fragile context).


Submitted by: 

Jackie Aldrette, Deputy Secretary General for U.S. Government Relations, AVSI Foundation, USA 

Marina Molino Lova, Country Representative, AVSI Foundation, Lebanon

[email protected]