AUB Hosts Meeting for Reconstruction of the South
The American University of Beirut, in collaboration with the United Nations
Habitat program, organized on October 18 a consultative meeting for municipal,
governmental, and non-governmental groups active in the South to discuss
how to enhance the post-war reconstruction of the region.
The meeting was intended to discuss a new two-year project called "Good
Governance for Enhanced Post-War Reconstruction," which is being
implemented by UN-HABITAT in partnership with a union of municipalities
in the South and in cooperation with other associations and the American
University of Beirut. Funded by the Netherlands and Cyprus with $800,000
and $500,000 respectively, the project hopes to reach some 4,000 affected
families within two years, helping to rebuild destroyed houses while preserving
the local architectural style.
"This is a project that ensures our work will have a direct impact
on the ground, in terms of policy-making and local and community development.
It is also a culmination of the work we started right after the war,"
said Mona Harb, assistant professor of architecture and design and one
of the active members of AUB's Reconstruction and Community Development
Task Force, an interdisciplinary advisory group which was set up by President
John Waterbury in August 2006 in response to the July war of that year.
The task force focuses on engagement of the University in public service
projects and seeks to integrate them with AUB's mission and objectives.
Already work has begun through the efforts of Beit bil Jnub, a young non-profit
organization led by an AUB graduate of urban design, Rabih Shibli.
AUB's principal role in the project is to monitor and evaluate the work
and offer consultative technical expertise. Led by Jala Makhzoumi, an
associate professor of landscape design and ecomanagement, the project
is expected to enhance the capacities of the municipalities and concerned
local groups, furthering their role in rebuilding according to spatial
planning considerations and specific design guidelines. The aim will be
to monitor and oversee the process of reconstruction as a tool to improve
and speed up rebuilding, specifically in towns where the level of destruction
The October meeting saw a high turnout, a reflection of the interest and
engagement in the reconstruction process. Attending the meeting were representatives
of the two donor countries, Dutch Ambassador Robert Zeldenrust and Dutch
and Cypriot Charges D'affaires Nelleke Kruijs Voorberge and Kyriacos Kouros,
UN Habitat representatives, Dania Rifaii and Tarek Osseiran, overviewed
the project with the meeting participants, addressing their concerns,
which included fears of duplication with other independent projects and
the need for cooperation among stakeholders in order to prevent violations
of Lebanese urban planning laws.