Lebanon hosts an estimated 1.5 million Syrians, along with 31 502 Palestine Refugees from Syria, 35 000 Lebanese returnees, and a pre-existing population of more than 277 985 Palestine Refugees in Lebanon. The high population increase in Lebanon has put further strain on the service provisions and planning systems of Lebanon. The main environmental issues that have increased due to the rapid population growth include lack of safe water, and poor water, solid and hospital waste management. An estimated 1 700 dumping sites have been created since 2015. The leakage of the water network system is as high as 50%. Sanitation services are failing, causing environmental health problems, including contamination of water resources. The wastewater network coverage, of 60%, is higher than the average of the region, however only 8% of all sewage generated is actually treated.
Government type: parliamentary republic
Population: 6 100 075 (July 2018 estimate)
Land area: 10 400 sq. km
GDP (real growth rate): 1.5 % (2017)
Population below poverty line: 28.6 % (2004)
Ethnic groups: Arab 95%, Armenian 4%, other 1%
Religion: Muslim 57.7% (28.7% Sunni, 28.4% Shia, smaller percentages of Alawites and Ismailis), Christian 36.2% (Maronite Catholics are the largest Christian group), Druze 5.2%, very small numbers of Jews, Baha’is, Buddhists, and Hindus (2017 estimate)
note: the data represents the religious affiliation of the citizen population (the data do not include Lebanon’s sizable Syrian and Palestinian refugee populations) 18 religious sects are recognized
Population distribution: the majority of the people live on or near the Mediterranean coast, and of these, most live in and around the capital, Beirut – favorable growing conditions in the Bekaa Valley, on the southeastern side of the Lebanon Mountains, have attracted farmers and thus the area exhibits a smaller population density
Urban population: 88.6% of total population (2018)
Refugees: refugees (country of origin): 5 695 (Iraq) (2017), 469 555 (Palestinian refugees) (2018), 938 531 (Syria) (2019)
Internally displaced people IDPs: 11 000 (2007 Lebanese security force’s destruction of a Palestinian refugee camp) (2017) stateless people: undetermined (2016); note – tens of thousands of people are stateless in Lebanon, including many Palestinian refugees and their descendants, Syrian Kurds denaturalized in Syria in 1962, children born to Lebanese women married to foreign or stateless men; most babies born to Syrian refugees, and Lebanese children whose births are unregistered
CIA: The World Factbook https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/le.html)
Biggest Challenges of Lebanon
After almost 15 years of civil war that ended in 1990 and further conflict with Israel in 2006, Lebanon has been struggling for years to rebuild and develop infrastructure. The influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon as a result of the Syrian civil war has further strained the development of the state’s services.
Lebanon hosts an estimated 1.5 million Syrians, along with 31 502 Palestine Refugees from Syria, 35 000 Lebanese returnees, and a pre-existing population of more than 277 985 Palestine Refugees in Lebanon. More than 50% of those displaced from Syria are women and children. The high increase in population has had a significant impact on Lebanon’s social and economic growth, caused deepening poverty and humanitarian needs, deepened environmental issues, and exacerbated pre-existing development constraints in the country.
The World Bank estimates that Lebanon has incurred losses of US$ 13.1 billion since 2012, of which US 5.6 billion pertains to 2015 alone. Over the past five years, the percentage of displaced Syrian households living below the poverty line ($3.84/capita/day) has been increasing. In 2016, 71% live in poverty, compared to 69% in 2015 and 49% in 2014. A further 53% is deemed severely socio-economically vulnerable, that is, currently living below a survival minimum of $435/month for a household of five. Some 91% of displaced Syrian households have debt.
Environmental issues and risk factors include lack of safe water, poor waste water and solid waste management. Lebanon’s already fragmented service provision and planning systems have become increasingly deficient due to the increase in population and humanitarian needs. As a result, only two thirds of the population is connected to sewerage networks, about half the water is lost in the networks, and although the wastewater network coverage, of 60%, is higher than the average of the region, only 8% of all sewage generated is actually treated. Additionally, the national average power supply lies at only 18.3 hours per day.
The population growth and increase in consumption have caused a rapid increase in demand for domestic use of water in urban cities. Around two thirds of Lebanon’s natural resources have bacterial contamination (up to 90% in urban areas). There has been a 40% increase in municipal spending on waste disposal since 2011.
Furthermore, the rapid increase in population has caused a significant increase in the volume of solid waste generated in urban areas. An average 1.57 million tons of waste is generated each year and 65% is generated in urban areas. Since July 2015, Lebanon has been facing a severe solid waste crisis that has led to the creation of 1 700 dumping sites, nearly in each locality, and for the piling up of garbage in the streets in the city of Beirut.
From a humanitarian perspective, the main issues are a regional and seasonal discrepancy in the supply of water, which is due to the mismanagement of water resources, low water storage capacity, large amount of water losses and low operational maintenance of water distribution network, low operational maintenance of the water distribution network and absence of an official management scheme for the water sector. As a means to secure water for daily consumption, 50% of the population purchase bottles or gallons, 25% of the population use water from vending trucks, 10% use water from a spring or tap stand, and 10% use private networks.
Percentage of Population in Lebanon using safely managed water:
(source: UNICEF, WHO – 2016, Joint Monitoring Program)
Population using safely managed drinking water services: 36%
Population using improved water free contamination: 47%
Population using improved water available when needed: 95%
Population using improved water on premises: 80%