Our research support in Lebanon focuses on laying the groundwork for future prosperity in the region. Our funded research promotes stability — as Lebanon addresses humanitarian challenges posed by Iraqi, Palestinian, and Syrian refugees within its borders.

When the country’s 15-year civil war ended in 1991, we first concentrated on informing the peace process and the transition to democracy. Research then expanded to include dryland agriculture, watershed management, and sanitation. 

For example, in the early 2000s research enabled the village of Arsal to deal with conflicts over land use for herding, fruit production, and quarrying. Arsal farmers also adopted new techniques, such as sowing fodder under orchard trees to enhance soil fertility.

Waterpipe smoking

Our support also addressed tobacco control to reduce the risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and stroke. A study of waterpipe smoking, common in the Middle East, led to groundbreaking results. 

Researchers at the American University of Beirut discovered that waterpipe users inhaled more smoke and dangerous gases than cigarette smokers. The results contradicted widely-held beliefs, and led the World Health Organization to issue a health advisory on the use of waterpipes.  In 2011, thanks to the researchers’ advocacy, the Lebanese Parliament passed a much stronger tobacco control bill than originally proposed. The team has taken its outreach activities beyond government, organizing educational contests in schools and helping restaurants and cafés comply with the smoking ban.

Scholarships for refugee women 

At the request of the Government of Canada, IDRC and international donors supported a scholarship fund that enabled women from Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon to pursue undergraduate university careers. Established in 2000, the fund provided grants to more than 200 impoverished young women with good grades, helping them earn degrees in fields such as biology, engineering, and graphic design. 

Total IDRC Support

60 activities worth CA$11.8 million since 1975

DFID/R.Watkins

Our support is helping

  • reduce the effects of saltwater intrusion along the Eastern Mediterranean
  • upgrade local researchers’ economic analytical capacities
  • reform policies that govern the gas sector in light of Lebanon’s newly-found gas resources
  • develop a policy approach to reduce alcohol consumption among youth
  • strengthen health systems across the region, particularly rapid response services
  • promote the health dangers of waterpipe smoking, to turn research results into policy

Projects