United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Abjad Centre

UN-Habitat Lebanon (
United Nations / Multilateral body

    With a history of conflict and tension rooted in various political and religious affiliations between different neighborhoods in Tripoli, the current increase in population due to an influx of 70,000 refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict has created severe competition for jobs and basic urban services. Prior to the economic crisis, up to 69 % of Lebanese and Palestinian populations in Tripoli subsisted on less than USD 4 per day, the burden of the increased population has resulted in further deteriorated livelihood opportunities and has put both host and refugee populations into survival mode hence amplifying tension levels

    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    1. To promote cultural knowledge, art exhibitions and workshops, traditional crafts trainings and more. A public free library holds reference books, encyclopedias, and general culture books. It is at the service of the public and a librarian from the area supervises its management and operations. A reading lounge is also available for individuals to spend their reading and studying times in a quiet environment. 2. Activities to address psychosocial stress include art therapy workshops, focus groups, theatre of the oppressed workshops, and more. Children can spend their time in a safe place away from the dangers of the streets, as they would normally do in Bab Al Tabbaneh due to a lack of public free and safe places. The area’s children enjoy performing recreational and beneficial activities such as gymnastics, karate, and dancing. In addition, the centre also provides after-school intensive tutoring sessions in subjects of the Lebanese curriculum to students who need it. Moreover, awareness sessions are hosted on various issues such as physical and mental health, most common diseases, soft skills, English-language tutoring, and other issues. 3. Offering women of Bab Al Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen vocational training workshops in different areas of specialization have positive long-term effects in terms of initiation of income-generating skills, and thus improvement of standard of living and lowering poverty levels. The workshops conducted at the center in addition to an exhibition area where the women’s products are showcased for sale. Awareness-raising sessions on issues such as health and sexual abuse are held because better knowledge of the women’s health and sexuality (ability to plan marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, child-bearing, protection against STDs) lead to healthier communities.


    Since its establishment in 2018, the Abjad Centre has reached over 5,000 beneficiaries in cooperation with UNICEF, UN Women, UTOPIA (Lebanese NGO) and the Municipality of Tripoli. The Centre has provided legal protection to more than 150 Syrian refugee and host community families in Tripoli by certifying marriages and registering newborns to help prevent statelessness while protecting households from eviction that has become more prevalent due to Lebanon’s worsening economic situation compounded by COVID-19. Members of the community centre also engage in arts, theatre and intercultural dialogue workshops to give them space to express themselves.

    Enabling factors and constraints

    The sustainability and success of the Abjad Centre is owed to the multi-stakeholder engagement of local authorities, community groups, non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies. Futhermore, as the Centre was established in direct coordination with the local community to ensure that their needs and challenges are addressed their buy-in has been essential to the maintenance of the centre that is coordinated by the Lebanese NGO, Utopia.

    Sustainability and replicability

    The centre has brought together actors from local NGOs and authorities to UN agencies and other international development partners to work jointly in an efficient and effective manner to ensure that both the refugee and host communities can access various services related to protection of their rights and access to livelihood opportunities. This method should be implemented in other projects while ensuring that all partners are continuously updated and involved in any of the projects’ activities. It also shows how impactful a place for joint dialogue can be, especially for people different vulnerable population groups, in reducing community tensions and social exclusion. Abjad centre can be used as a model of an inclusive and collaborative community centre that plays a role in reducing community tensions and improving social cohesion between the host and refugee populations. It can be adopted by communities in other cities, regions and countries to bring different population groups together.

    COVID-19 Impact

    Beginning in December 2020 through external funding, the Centre began a legal protection to help people weather economic and protection hardships brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic among other socioeconomic and political crises facing Lebanon. The Abjad Centre’s Legal Protection Unit negotiated with landlords in Tripoli to provide flexible rental agreements that allow identified tenants to continue staying in their rented homes and pay for their stay later. In cases where the landlord refused to accept the agreement, the Abjad Centre provided emergency cash-for-rent assistance. In extreme cases, the Abjad Centre refers the families to UNHCR and other temporary accommodation maintained by local authorities, non-governmental organizations and others.

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    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    01 August 2018 (start date)
    31 December 2026 (date of completion)
    UN-Habitat, UN Women and UNICEF
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    Other beneficiaries

    Well-known and active individuals such as artists, architects, writers and others from Tripoli are advisors for the centre and participate in our “knowledge sharing cycle”. A coalition of existing representatives from all local organizations working in the area, one municipality representative, and local & international development and/or cultural experts serve as Abjad centre’s board of advisors called Shankal group.

    Contact Information