Advocating for Lebanese Municipalities’ Reform – Municipalities play a vital role in Lebanon’s governance structure and local communities. They serve as the closest form of government to citizens, addressing their immediate needs and concerns. Municipalities are responsible for essential services such as waste management, infrastructure development, and public safety. Moreover, they promote citizen participation, fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment. With their potential to drive economic local development, ensure accountability, and strengthen democratic processes, municipalities are essential for building resilient and inclusive communities in Lebanon.
Advancing Municipal Reform
Strengthening Administration and Legislation for Effective Local Governance
Municipalities face significant challenges in both administrative and legislative aspects. Efforts to reform Lebanese municipalities are vital for improving their overall effectiveness and ensuring better service provision to citizens. This entails addressing issues related to administrative practices, capacity building, and service delivery within municipalities. Simultaneously, it is equally important to focus on law and legislative reform, enhancing the legal framework that governs municipal operations. By tackling these two directions of reform, Lebanon can work towards creating more efficient and accountable municipalities that meet the needs and expectations of its citizens and administrative decentralization.
Advocacy Campaigns For Reform
Now, there is a growing need for reform to address shortcomings, enhance transparency, ensure effective administration and most important deliver quality service. For that reason, we will explore the key steps to create an advocacy communication campaign aimed at promoting reform in municipalities in Lebanon, while emphasizing the significance of research, strategic messaging, coalition-building, and public engagement.
1- Research and Identify Key Issues
Begin by conducting comprehensive research on existing municipal laws, policies and practices. The purpose here is to identify key areas that require reform, such as accountability mechanisms, citizen participation, financial management, and service delivery. Collaborate with legal experts, researchers, and civil society organizations to gain insights into the challenges and potential solutions. An example of such activity to enhance administrative capabilities of municipalities is the report published through MASAR programme in Lebanon. Funded by the European Union and executed by VNG International and DRI, this report provides an assessment of the state of play of local governance in Lebanon, based on sectoral case studies conducted in the governorates of Akkar, Baalback-Hermel, and North Lebanon. Click here to read the report.
2- Define Clear Campaign Objectives
Establish clear and measurable objectives for the campaign. Are you aiming for specific legislative changes, policy amendments, or increased public awareness? Or both? Define the desired outcomes, ensuring they align with the needs and aspirations of your organization. These objectives will serve as a guide throughout the campaign. An example of such objectives is: Reaching 500,000 users on Instagram in 3 months. Publishing 3 articles and disseminating it to 20 news outlets in 1 month. Writing 1 draft law, or 1 report about a specific subject. The Objectives must be: SPECIFIC – MEASURABLE – ACHIEVABLE – RELEVANT – TIME-BOUND.
3- Craft Powerful Messages
Develop compelling top-line messages that convey the urgency and importance of municipal reform to various stakeholders, including citizens, local authorities, policymakers, and media outlets. Tailor the messages to resonate with diverse audiences, emphasizing the potential benefits, such as improved governance, increased citizen participation, and enhanced service delivery. That is why at this point, the targeted audiences should be well defined.
4- Build a Coalition of Stakeholders
Form a coalition of like-minded organizations, including local or international NGOs, grassroots movements, legal experts, and concerned citizens, who share the vision of municipal reform. Collaborate with these stakeholders to pool resources, expertise, and networks. Jointly advocate for reform, leverage each other’s strengths, and amplify the campaign’s impact. An example here would be the coalition and communication built between El Mina Municipality and the boat operators in that area. This was part of El Mina City local economic development which is also part of the “New-Beginnings”. It’s a project implemented by Relief International with the financial assistance of the European Regional Development and Protection Programme (RDPP II) for Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.
5- Engage with Policymakers
Establish direct channels of communication with policymakers, such as municipal council members, parliamentarians, and relevant government officials. Organize meetings, workshops, and policy briefings to present research findings, propose solutions, and advocate for reform. Engage in constructive dialogue, providing evidence-based arguments and showcasing successful case studies from other countries. A good example would be the activities executed by the Democracy Reporting International in Lebanon to promote the draft laws that they created with the collaboration of a local NGO (LFPCP). They started visiting each parliamentary block to promote the draft law and to explain the urgent need behind it. Follow this link to read more about it: DRI Activity.
6- Mobilize Public Support
Engage the public through various channels, including Social Media, traditional media outlets, public events, and community gatherings. Utilize online petitions, awareness outreach campaigns, and educational materials to mobilize citizens and encourage them to voice their support for municipal reform. Encourage them to contact their local representatives and actively participate in the campaign.
Engaging the public in advocacy campaigns is a critical and multifaceted endeavor that warrants dedicated focus and attention. While social media plays a pivotal role in modern advocacy, it necessitates sustained daily efforts to effectively leverage its potential. Engaging the public requires careful planning, strategic messaging, community outreach and a paid advertising budget to expand the content reach beyond the minimal organic reach offered by the various platforms like Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.
7- Monitor and Evaluate The Impact
Regularly monitor and evaluate the campaign’s impact by tracking progress towards the defined objectives. Assess changes in public opinion, media coverage, and policy discourse. Collect feedback from stakeholders, conduct surveys, and use data to refine and strengthen the campaign’s strategies and tactics.
Part Of The Success
Keep in mind, Advocating for Lebanese Municipalities’ Reform is often a complex activity because we have to deal with power and opposition and in many cases, with personal interest of groups opposing the change. Promoting reform in municipal laws and administration in Lebanon requires a comprehensive and strategic advocacy communication campaigning. By conducting thorough research, developing powerful messages, building coalitions, engaging policymakers, mobilizing public support, heavily promoting content and monitoring impact, we can drive positive change and contribute to the development of transparent, accountable, and participatory local governance. We are grateful to be part of those efforts and many more, by supporting our customers and International and Local NGOs in crafting those strategies and executing it.