Lebanon: Emergency social safety payments not being paid as applicant’s await “verification”




In January 2021, the World Bank agreed to loan the Lebanese government $246,000,000 to finance an "emergency social safety net" project in response to Covid-19 and Lebanon's ongoing economic crisis.

As part of the project, the Lebanese Government must provide cash-transfers to approximately 147,000 Lebanese households. To be eligible to receive cash transfers, households must be
* Lebanese,
* assessed as living below the World Bank's "extreme poverty line", and
* belong to "pre-defined socially vulnerable categories".

One of the disbursement conditions set by the World Bank is that the Lebanese government must undertake a "verification process" of all applicants (i.e., households) that are selected to receive emergency social assistance.

According to the World Bank, the verification process involves:
> "A household visit where easily verifiable and measurable information is collected that allows the computing of a household “poverty score”.  Households whose score is below the extreme poverty line will be deemed eligible to receive benefits under the [project]."

As recently as 27 October 2021, the Lebanese government was still in the process of procuring a service provider to undertake household verifications.

While emergency social safety provisions were hugely important to ensuring social protection to communities that were made vulnerable during (and before) the Covid-19 pandemic, we must continue to assess the wider implications these 'emergency' measures have on human dignity and privacy. Are these projects being planned and implemented in a way that takes into account communities' and households' right to private life? What is the impact of being subjected to a "verification" of poverty process through a home visit?

Entering a person's home in order to assess whether or not they meet a poverty score is - on its face - a serious interference with a person's rights to private and family life.

It is not clear why alternative, less intrusive means-testing methodologies were not adopted. For example, relying on data which analyses urban and rural poverty across Lebanon.

More than a year and a half into the Covid-19 pandemic, this form of "emergency" social support has not yet been disbursed. From both a social protection perspective and a human rights perspective, this calls into question the efficacy of "home visits" as a means of verification prior to disbursal.

Source: The World Bank
Publication: Lebanon Emergency Crisis and Covid-19 Response Social Saftey Net Project