UN-Habitat and UNICEF neighbourhood profiling across Lebanon


UN-Habitat and UNICEF neighbourhood profiling across Lebanon

UN-Habitat and UNICEF profile disadvantaged neighbourhoods hosting refugee and host communities in Lebanon.

City view from the air.

Contact details

Submitted by: Nanor Karageozian, Social Analyst, UN-Habitat

Email: [email protected]

Website: https://new.unhabitat.org/where-we-are/lebanon

Introduction to the project




September 2017 – December 2019


In the eighth year of the Syrian refugee crisis, Lebanon hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees (Government of Lebanon and the United Nations, 2019), many of whom are located alongside poor Lebanese in urban settings that were already stressed before the 2011 crisis onset. In a long-standing national context of scarce data, combined with ever-growing pressure to maximize efficiencies in intervention funding, there is an urgent need for reliable spatialized information on which to base holistic, multi-sectoral, multi-actor vulnerability mitigation approaches that support municipalities and other state entities.

The neighbourhood profiles jointly undertaken by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) offer such a springboard for moving towards sustainable development. Through an integrated analysis of primary quantitative and qualitative data, profiles shed light on how relatively fixed built environments and relatively mobile social dimensions interface with each other in specific contexts.

Adopting an area-based approach to data gathering and synthesis, where a defined territorial unit is the point of entry rather than a sector or beneficiary cohort, profiles can inform integrated programming for neighbourhoods in ways that benefit all residents in the long term. This has the potential for mitigating cross-cohort vulnerability and for reducing host–refugee community tensions, which are reported to be on the rise year-on-year.

Project aims 

Organizationally, profiles can serve as a framework for area-based coordinated actions between partners to the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP), United Nations Strategic Framework (UNSF), and local authorities to improve the response in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in complex urban settings.

Profiles contribute to building a national database of comparable data that can be used for better understanding and monitoring of dynamics in the most vulnerable urban pockets that cadastral, municipal and district averages can be blind to, and how these relate to their wider urban contexts.

Overall, 31 profiles are being produced (four of which are in print format while others will be part of an online portal dedicated specifically to the Neighbourhood Profiles – a dedicated website will also shortly be available).





Resources used 

The neighbourhood profiling project is funded mainly by UNICEF, along with other donors for specific profiles.

Main activities of the Good Practice

The neighbourhood profiling approach comprises two steps:

Phase 1 (completed): This involved the national selection and geographical delimitation of areas being profiled. The 498 identified disadvantaged areas were ranked nationally. For top-ranking identified disadvantaged areas selected for profiling, neighbourhood boundaries were drawn in the field.

Phase 2 (ongoing): For the selected neighbourhoods, this phase encompasses data gathering, analysis, validation, publishing and dissemination.

  • Neighbourhood profiling involves a mixed-methods approach. Information is collected from both Lebanese and non-Lebanese residents of different gender and age groups. Primary quantitative and qualitative data is gathered participatively through:
    • Field assessments, including a comprehensive population count, building survey, enterprise survey, basic urban services survey (water and sanitation, solid waste management, electricity and mobility), open space survey.
    • Household surveys for representative samples of Lebanese and non-Lebanese populations.
    • Key informant interviews with local government stakeholders; representatives of (international) non-governmental organizations; business owners; social service actors; and key religious and political influencers.
    • Focus group discussions with different residents

Secondary quantitative and qualitative data is captured to contextualize and complement the primary data findings.

  • Data from all mapped, quantitative and qualitative sources is analysed holistically to ensure data integration across all issues and sectors, spanning governance, population, safety and security, health, education, child protection, youth, local economy and livelihoods, buildings and housing, basic urban services, access, and open spaces.
  • Data and analysis are validated with a range of local actors before profile publishing. Out of the 31 profiles, four were published in print format and the remaining will be published in an online portal on a rolling basis as data collection and analysis are completed. The portal will also include an interactive geoportal of all mapped data as well as a comparable database of indicators and main findings (including other existing indicators at the governorate or national levels)


  • Other partners have been involved in the project, including municipalities, local and international non-governmental organizations, university students, etc.

Challenges and how they were overcome

  • High complexity and big scale of the project requires a big team, which in turn is associated with issues such as synchronization, coordination, consistency. — Detailed project track sheets developed and managerial follow-up required (including regular meetings and adoption of editorial manuals).
  • Delays in securing municipal approval (e.g. for political/security reasons). — Collaboration with area coordinators and staff from Regional Technical Offices (RTOs) (established by UN-Habitat in unions of municipalities).
  • Reluctance of municipalities to engage in assessments that do not guarantee the implementation of physical projects. — This requires communicating the longer-term benefit of profiles through presentations and by showcasing how profiles have been used for tangible projects elsewhere
  • Difficulties that come with any research project (e.g. lack of secondary sources, difficulty obtaining data, technical issues with software), and lengthy process of fact-checking, gap-filling and validation of collected data. — Close collaboration with area coordinators (working for UN-Habitat), municipalities, RTO staff and other partners to fills gaps and validate findings.
  • Time lag between data collection-processing and profile production-publishing. — Online portal developed to publish collected data in a geoportal/indicator database/dashboards as well as individual profiles on a rolling basis.
  • Difficulties tracking the use of and the development of projects/programming associated with profiles. — Discussions about the longer-term institutionalization of profiles (e.g. dissemination and use, updating, geographic expansion/replication) are underway.

Results of the Good Practice

Data collected as part of the neighbourhood profiles has served as an evidence base that has allowed local authorities and partners to identify pressing needs and baseline their projects and programmes. Given that they are developed within an area-based approach, profiles have also helped partners coordinate in order to design (multi-sectoral) interventions within defined geographical areas, thus helping minimize redundancy and leverage resources. UN-Habitat has also worked towards building the capacity of municipalities, so they use the profiles for baselining and programming.

Projects designed and implemented by UN-Habitat, UNICEF and/or other partners that are based on the findings of profiles – or that have benefited otherwise from the profiles – have included:

  • Creation of community centres providing socio-cultural services and facilities.
  • Upgrading of domestic water, storm water, wastewater and/or electrical networks, as well as solid waste management system.
  • Climate change-related projects, including renewable energy, and water reuse and conservation.
  • Upgrading of public open spaces that are inclusive and accessible for various host and refugee community members, who often participate in the design of the spaces.
  • Upgrading of main commercial streets/souks (markets).
  • Upgrading of streets (infrastructure and buildings).
  • Rehabilitation of communal spaces of buildings or other parts of buildings, including shelter upgrades.
  • Rehabilitation of historic/touristic sites and buildings of cultural heritage value.
  • Projects aimed at child labour prevention and reduction.
  • Awareness-raising sessions on various issues (housing, land and property issues; hygiene promotion, water conservation, etc.).
  • As a result of the join effort for undertaking the profiles, there is extensive coordination among a vast cross section of actors (UN, donor, community, government, local authorities, NGOs etc.) -contributing to shared ownership/common understanding. Further results outside of the Lebanese context include the rolling out of similar neighbourhood profiling projects in Yemen and potentially Syria, and urban profiling could also be replicated in other country contexts such as Turkey.

Further results outside of the Lebanese context include the rolling out of similar neighbourhood profiling projects in Yemen and potentially Syria, and urban profiling could also be replicated in other country contexts such as Turkey.