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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Carlos Younes

Sustainability in a Temporary Situation: A Case Study of Water Service Delivery to Syrian Refugees in Akkar, North Lebanon.

Three years after the beginning of the Syrian refugee influx to Lebanon and the start of the refugee response, the situation of the refugees hasn’t improved, while the situation of the Lebanese population has worsened. Literature has shown that focusing refugee aid on emergency measures creates a culture of dependence, stretches the host country’s resources and raises social tensions between the hosts and refugees. Instead, a portion of international funding can be used to develop a sustainable long-term development plan for the host country, thereby improving the condition of both the locals and the refugees.


The water sector in Lebanon was already in a poor state before the refugee crisis and the rapid population increase has placed a bigger pressure on its infrastructure and institutions. The most pronounced effect was seen in Akkar Governorate in North Lebanon as it is the poorest and most rural governorate in Lebanon and has witnessed high refugee influx. Akkar is suffering from severe shortage in water delivery to households and refugee camps, and deteriorating water quality.

The Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) was deemed a suitable tool for resolving the water quantity and quality shortages in Akkar based on multiple criteria. These criteria included important aspects of refugee response, the cost and speed of implementation, as well as important aspects of sustainable development, the effectiveness of the implementation and its long-term viability. The AHP was conducted to find the best alternatives to:
• Water system design.
• Water source.
• Water extraction and capture method.
• Water transport and storage method.
• Water treatment method.

One of the conclusions of the AHP is that water should be delivered to the hosts and refugees through household connections as that would increase the likelihood of people using it, meeting their hygiene needs and making it a more sustainable option.

Other recommendations of the AHP include using groundwater as the source of water, using diesel powered pumps to lift the groundwater and treating the water through community-wide slow sand filtration.