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Copyright 2011
By the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat),
All rights reserved. No part of this publication maybe reproduced, stored in retrieval system or transmitted in any form or
by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of UN-Habitat.

With the aim of promoting municipal work and allowing local authorities accomplish their duties
and functions in a proper manner, the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities strives to provide
them with the required assistance, including moral and financial support.
Driven by our belief that enhancing the performance of Municipalities and Unions of Municipalities
shall lead to the promotion of local development the backbone of the balanced development
that the government seeks to achieve, we are determined to activate the work of Municipalities
even further.
It is worth noting that an efficient Municipality will definitely contribute to promoting administrative
decentralization, an objective that we all yearn to attain. In fact, an empowered Municipality can
offer high-quality and effective services to citizens.
Therefore, we have continuously endeavored, in collaboration with international donors to
ensure financial as well as technical support to activate municipal work and improve the quality of
municipal services.
The cooperation between the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities and the United Nations
Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) represents one of the operational facets of these
endeavors, which resulted in the production of a Training Guidebook on Local Strategic Planning.
This topic is considered one of the principal pillars of the local development process and a pivotal
milestone in the development of municipal work.
We call upon all Municipalities and Union of Municipalities unions of municipalities to give priority
to local planning within their day-to-day business, as it represents an integral part of their work.
Local Planning relies on the capacities of Municipalities, Unions of Municipalities, and local
communities, be it to make full use of existing human and material resources or to build on the
characteristics and advantages of the region and seizing the existing opportunities.
We put forward in this training guidebook a flexible, clear, practical and scientific methodology
regarding local strategic planning that is applicable at the municipal level, in general, and the level
of Union of Municipalities, in particular.
Beirut, May 20, 2012
Minister of Interior and Municipalities
Brigadier Marwan Charbel



Concepts and Implementation Procedures

UN-Habitat wishes to thank all those who took part in the elaboration and completion
processes of this Training Guidebook on Local Strategic Planning for Municipalities and Unions
of Municipalities in Lebanon. This Guidebook comes in the context of the project Enhanced
Municipal Governance for Effective Decentralization in Lebanon, implemented jointly with
the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities/Directorate General of Local Administrations and
Councils, and funded by the Italian Government.
Firstly, special thanks are due to the Director General of Local Administrations and Councils Mr.
Khalil Hajal and his staff for their efficient contribution and exceptional support in facilitating the
work of the project team during the elaboration of this guidebook.
We express our gratitude for the Directorate General of Urban Planning as well as for the
Council for Development and Reconstruction and the Order of Engineers and Architects of
Beirut for their contribution during the various developing stages of this Guidebook the as well
as for their participation in the consultative workshops that focused on the content and the
implementation mechanisms of the methodology proposed by the Guidebook.
Our appreciation goes to the presidents of Municipalities and Unions of Municipalities and
Municipal Guides, as well as representatives of public and private civil institutions who took
part in the two-day working sessions to discuss the content of the Training Guidebook. We also
thank them for their effective contribution to the training workshops on the Concepts of Local
Strategic Planning that have been implemented in 12 Unions of Municipalities. The feedback
collected by the participants in the training workshops contributed extensively to the completion
of this Guidebook.
Special thanks must also go to all the facilitators who undertook training in the frame of this
project, and contributed to training Municipalities, and Unions of Municipalities as well as to
raising awareness on local strategic planning within various regions. Through the adoption of
innovative training techniques and methods, those trainers helped significantly in transmitting
the notion of Local Planning in an interactive and constructive manner.
Furthermore, we highly appreciate the efforts of all national experts who participated in
consultative workshops to discuss the content of the Training Guidebook and provided their
observations, suggestions and recommendations, which enriched the guidebook and made it
even more valuable.
Finally, we would like to acknowledge the significant efforts and intensive follow up carried
out by the team of experts who were appointed by UN-Habitat to elaborate and develop the
content of the Training Guidebook. This team consisted of Dr. Lon Telvizian and Dr. Mousbah
Rajab, professors at the Lebanese University, Institute of Fine Arts Department of Urban
Planning, who were commissioned by UN-Habitat to develop and elaborate this Guidebook.



1- The Urban Situation and the Importance of Local Strategic Planning


The Evolving Role of Cities

The Urban Situation in Lebanon
Role of Local Authorities
Urban Planning: Overview

2- National Planning Frameworks

Public Institutions Concerned with Planning

3- The Current Situation of Municipalities and the Strategic Planning

At the level of Municipalities
At the Level of Unions of Municipalities

4. Local Strategic Planning at the Level of Municipalities and Unions of

Definition of Local Strategic Planning
Elements of Local Strategic Planning




Concepts and Implementation Procedures

Before going into the detailed content of strategic planning as presented in this guidebook, it is
necessary to address certain critical issues that directly affect the planning process in Lebanon.
These issues encompass three main levels:
Policy level
Institutional level; and
Administrative level
At the level of public policies, Lebanon is
still lacking national frameworks that guide
the planning process. Although the national
report on the National Physical Master Plan
for the Lebanese Territory (which is considered
one of the main national planning tools) was
issued and got the approval of the Council
of Ministers in May 2009, it is however
limited to determining general orientations
associated with land use, without specifying
the procedural mechanisms that facilitate its
use at the level of line ministries and public
At the institutional level, the public entity
entrusted with planning responsibility is
inexistent. The Ministry of Planning was
eliminated in the 1960s, the outbreak of
the civil war (1970-1990) has exacerbated
the overall situation. During the war period,
the role of State institutions was limited to
providing basic and essential services that
respond to emergency needs. Until today,
planning matters overlap between many
ministries and public agencies, notably: the
Council for Development and Reconstruction,
the Directorate General of Urban Planning,
the Higher Council for Urban Planning and, in
certain cases, municipalities
Concerning the national administrative
divisions, they are done according to political

and sectarian considerations, which have a

negative adverse on the strategic planning
process. In fact, the present geographical
delimitation of Cazas (Districts) in Lebanon
embraces in many cases regions that are
heterogeneous geographically, socially and
economically. This in turn limits the possibility
of adopting these Cazas as an integrated
and homogeneous entity in the planning and
development process.
This problem is further aggravated when
looking at the adopted divisions to form Union
of Municipalities. The establishment of Unions
of Municipalities goes back to the year 1978,
and the number started significantly increasing
since year 2000. The formation of Unions of
Municipalities (through the number of affiliated
Municipalities or through their geographical
delimitations) was mostly affected by political
and sectarian considerations rather than by
development considerations.
And if we assume that Unions of Municipalities
represent presently the most convenient
official regional structures to lead the process
of strategic planning, it should be noted that
this process should not be limited to the
geographical boundary of a Union only, but it
could go beyond those borders to include the
relevant regional space, either within the same
Caza, or even to extend to neighboring Cazas.

It should be noted that the success of the planning process in Lebanon should be accompanied
by legal reforms that would respond to occurring transformations and urbanization challenges,
particularly in terms of promoting decentralization and empowering of local authorities. This shall
Reviewing the Municipal Code,
Reviewing the fund distribution mechanisms handled by the Independent Municipal Fund; and
Amending the electoral law, which should be aligned with the current demographic reality.
Finally, while acknowledging that these considerations reflect the national reality, the need arises
to bring about the necessary changes within this framework and according to available resources.
In this context, this Guidebook comes to emphasize the importance of local strategic planning and
the possibility to apply it within the available national frameworks. It also comes to re-assert the
need to elaborate strategic plans within Unions of Municipalities in order to form a reference or an
action plan at the regional level, taking into account the needs of the local population.



Concepts and Implementation Procedures

This training guidebook falls within the framework of the project entitled Enhanced Municipal
Governance for Effective Decentralization in Lebanon, implemented by UN-Habitat in
cooperation with the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities/ Directorate General of Administrations
and Local Councils and funded by the Italian Government. The project aims at supporting the
Directorate General through the empowerment of the Department of Guidance and Investigation
and enhancing communication with the Municipalities and Unions of Municipalities. The project
also intends to develop a national municipal capacity development plan which encompasses
training curricula on financial, administrative and technical aspects as well as local planning.
Furthermore, the project seeks to promote exchange of expertise and networking between
Municipalities and Unions of Municipalities at the national level, through identifying and promoting
municipal best practices.
This Guidebook targets all segments of the
society, including decision makers, experts and
community members in general. It seeks to
develop a new and practical notion on Local
Strategic Planning at the level of Municipalities
and Unions of Municipalities in Lebanon.
Having adopted this Guidebook, the Ministry
of Interior and Municipalities is expected to
disseminate it and to encourage Municipalities
and Unions of Municipalities to apply it, either
through the Directorate General of Local
Administrations and Councils, or through
international and community organizations that
deal with municipal work under the guidance
and supervision of the Directorate General.
This guidebook presents one of the proposed
approaches to strategic planning focusing
on the two dimensions, i.e. spatial and local,
when applying the concept of urban planning,
which takes into consideration the specificity of
Municipalities and Unions of Municipalities in
Lebanon. This is the reason why the Training
Guidebook was entitled: Local Strategic
Planning for Municipalities and Unions of
Municipalities in Lebanon.
The Training Guidebook consists of two main
parts. The first part sheds light on the concepts

of local strategic planning and the factors

that affect its successful application. The
second part focuses on the practical steps
and procedures that are required to realize
effectively local strategic plans at the level of
Municipalities and Unions of Municipalities in
The first part, which targets the various
constituents of the local communities, aims
at promoting and disseminating the notion
of strategic planning. It is addressed to the
various segments of the society, members
of municipal councils, civil servants, NGOs
and private sector representatives; etc. and
it highlights the role of diverse stakeholders
and stresses on the importance of their
participation during the various planning
Addressed primarily to experts and local
activists available at the level of Union of
Municipalities or Municipalities of major
cities, the second part aims at developing
the local capacities through providing a
thorough and sequential explanation on the
proposed procedures, steps and operational
mechanisms to initiate a strategic planning

The first part of the Guidebook provides an overview on the evolving role of cities and the urban
situation in Lebanon. It also defines the role of local authorities and the concept of strategic
planning as a tool to respond to demographic changes and urban expansion, highlighting the
various planning patterns and their development globally. Furthermore, it presents the national
planning frameworks, as well as the municipal situation in Lebanon and its impact on the process
of strategic planning. In the last section, the first part introduces the notion of Local Strategic
Planning, its main elements and its process.
The second part details the steps that should be carried out by Municipalities and Union of
Municipalities, throughout the various stages of the Local Strategic Planning process. It also
focuses on the needed human resources (internal/local and external) to conduct the planning
exercise, including their number, competencies and know how as well as tasks distribution. It also
stresses on the importance of the training provided by the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities
to develop the local capacities of available human resources. This second part highlights the
connection between the proposed steps and their relation with the geographical scope, where
three levels of work are determined within the Union of Municipalities, i.e. the Municipality,
a grouping of Municipalities sharing the same problems and located within a homogeneous
geographical area, and the Union of Municipalities.
This Guidebook was prepared and developed by a multi-disciplinary team, which included urban
planning university professors and experts in the domains of local development, municipal
work and adult learning. The elaboration process of this Guidebook entailed holding series of
consultative meetings that were attended by a number of presidents of Municipalities and Union
of Municipalities. These meetings were fundamental to discuss the proposed draft content and
methodology and to assess their appropriateness to the local municipal context. In addition, in
the scope of the project, two Training of Trainers (ToT) sessions were organized that focused on
the concepts the Guidebook is presenting. The formed team of trainers tested the content of the
Guidebook during training workshops targeting a number of Unions of Municipalities.
In order to allow its dissemination to the widest number of stakeholders, including bilateral and
multilateral donor agencies, only the first part of the guidebook was translated into English. The
full version including parts one and two are available in Arabic.


The Urban Situation and the

Importance of Local Strategic Planning
The Evolving Role of Cities
The 21st century is the century of
urbanization. Currently, half of the world
population lives in urban areas. These
areas include villages and small towns of
which the administrative scopes became
intertwined due to urban expansion and
became similar to cities. Challenges related
to urban planning are increasing. Regulating
the development of peri-urban areas is
becoming more complex than regulating a
single municipality. Any decision-making at
the city level does not only affect the city
itself but the entire urban context in which
this city is located. As such, it is imperative
that balanced policies be derived for a
sustainable development based on the
strategic planning and sound governance
concept (i.e. making and implementing
decisions in an equitable and balanced
manner through embracing the concept of
participation, consensus, transparency and

Sustainable development is
development that meets the needs of
the present without compromising the
ability of future generations to meet
their own needs.
International Institute for Sustainable
Development; http://www.iisd.org/sd/)


The Urban Situation in Lebanon

Historically, urban development in Lebanon
has been affected by several internal and
external factors that gave Lebanese cities,
especially Beirut, leading political and
economic roles that transformed them into
attraction key poles for internal migration.
During the civil war (1975-1990), urbanization
process was accelerated due to mass
displacements or to look for job opportunities.
This migration led to a significant decrease in
rural area population, and to a considerable
increase in the number of urban dwellers.
Urbanization has continued to expand in
the post-war era in Lebanon. Some sources
indicated that this growth has become a

natural phenomenon and is not linked to

internal migration (UNESA, 2010).
In Lebanon, urban expansion is concentrated in
and around main cities and coastal towns that
became inter-connected. Increased poverty
has lead to the formation of informal and
un-organized areas in and around the cities.
This urbanization was not accompanied by
any state policies or plans, which turned many
cities and towns into a single urban area that is
challenged by a lack of basic services, as well
as transport problems, traffic congestion and a
deterioration of the natural environment.

United States



Statistics indicate that the

majority of the Lebanese
population (87%) lives
nowadays in the cities and
their outskirts. This percentage
is among the highest
compared to other countries,
knowing that 64% of them
live in Beirut and the regions
of Mount Lebanon.

Source: (www.statistiques-mondiales.com/population_urbaine.htm)

The concept of Greater Beirut has been introduced since early 1990s as a single
urban space encompassing the regions extending from Nahr El Kaleb to Damour,
including the towns located at a maximum altitude of 700m.

Role of Local Authorities

Experts and decision makers unanimously agree that cities and urban areas are increasingly taking
hold of the political and economic power at the expense of the central government. In some cases,
the decentralized local structures enjoy larger powers and competences when dealing with their
local affairs. This represents a significant opportunity to promote local development, considering
that cities possess immense potentials which enable them become a catalyst for national growth.
However, the main challenge lies in enabling municipalities to lead the overall development process.
As a result of urban expansion, The Lebanese
Municipalities face significant and various
challenges. While coastal areas and inner cities
are facing the challenges of high population
density and the lack of basic services, inland
rural areas are witnessing a dramatic population
decrease, which is leading to a deteriorated
economic situation and reduced local financial
resources. Since two decades, and in an
attempt to face the various human and financial
challenges, a number of Municipalities joined
forces and gathered under the umbrella of a
new administrative structure: the Unions of
Political considerations are one of the main

factors shaping the size and the form of Unions

of Municipalities. These considerations affect
considerably the number of Municipalities
that have joined or have not joined Unions
of Municipalities or even the geographical
distribution of those unions. By bringing
together their locally available human and
financial resources, Unions of Municipalities
are better equipped to face the various urban
transformations and challenges, including urban
expansion and increased population density.
In this context, the notion of Strategic Planning
emerged as one of the most important tools
to allow local authorities manage the various
evolutions and transformations caused by rapid

Urban Planning: Overview

Strategic planning is defined as a systematic decision-making process that focuses attention on
important issues and on how to resolve them (UN-Habitat). Common definitions of Strategic
Planning agree that it provides answers to four basic questions:
1. Where are we now?
2. Where do we want to go?
3. How do we get there?
4. Have we arrived?




Concepts and Implementation Procedures

The notion of urban planning has evolved from

conventional approaches, widespread in the
1960s, to a variant of modern ones that are
applied presently. Applied in a conventional
manner, urban planning was restricted to State
institutions that usually commission experts
to prepare comprehensive master plans or
sectoral plans (education, economy, basic
services, housing, etc.) to serve the common
good. Such approaches focus on the physical
aspects of cities (such as road networks,
infrastructure and housing). Among these
approaches, we can cite the physical planning,
master plan, land use and zoning, which
are still applied in Lebanon. However, such
approaches have been criticized for several
reasons, particularly because they are based
on idealistic principles (focusing on common
good), rather than reality, to solve urban
issues. Another reason is the fact that they do
not take into consideration the various sociopolitical and economic aspects of cities and
they adopt a top-bottom planning approach
that excludes the local community from the
decision-making process.
Therefore, new concepts have emerged that
consider planning as a continuous participatory
process that brings together the State or
government institutions, the private sector

and the local community. All these stakeholders

along with experts are considered as the main
sources of information, recommendations
and solutions. Taking as a basis the notions of
sustainable development and good governance,
these new concepts consider the decisionmaking process as much important as the
outcome results and their realization.
These modern planning approaches are more
strategy-oriented than comprehensive and they
aim at putting forward sustainable orientations
and strategies that respond to the reality and the
local context. Strategic Planning represents one
of those approaches and it starts with analyzing
the current urban situation and the problematic
in order to define the adequate policies and
development orientations. Mostly used by
local authorities in the UK, the development
planning approach serves as a tool for policymaking purposes as well as for determining the
development orientation and land regulations.
Spatial planning, which aims at creating an
enabling environment, gives geographical
expression to the economic, social, cultural and
ecological policies of society. Local planning is
confined to the geographical boundaries of one
or more administrative units (municipal domain)
and is based on the participation of the public
and private sectors as well as NGOs and CBOs.

The below table clarifies the differences between the conventional and the modern
planning approaches:


Centralized approach Top-bottom

Product oriented (the Plan)
Starts with the determination of the influential authority
Planning separated from implementation (and
therefore, budgeting)

Decentralized approach Bottom-up

Process-oriented and action-oriented
Combination of action and reaction
Starts with consensus on issues
Planning, budgeting and implementation integrated

Limited or politically motivated assessment of situation

Assumes that current trends will continue in the future
Based largely on data rather than stakeholder
Administrative orientation and awareness
Prepared through following instructions and directions

Focused and selective (determining and solving the

critical issues on the long term)
Strong assessment of internal and external
environment (situation)
Expects new trends, changes and developments
Interactive with a range of stakeholders
Political/multi-stakeholder awareness and involvement
Prepared through empowering and building local capacities


National Planning Frameworks

The planning concept was introduced into the Lebanese administration during the reign of
President Fouad Chehab. Previously, this concept was not prevalent in its broad meaning, but was
rather limited to the construction of road networks and establishing hubs to connect different cities
and regions. This planning concept did not develop much from that time to become part of public
institution policies, due to several factors, namely the nature of the Lebanese political system
and the major national crises that Lebanon witnessed from decades. Moreover, public policies
were sector-focused and limited to the development of certain sectors such as water, electricity,
telephone, etc. instead of addressing development in a more comprehensive manner.
Nowadays, planning relies on laws and tools
used by public institutions to organize the
Lebanese territories. The first urban planning
law in Lebanon was issued on September
24, 1962 and was effective for more than
twenty years before the issuance of the
current law being in force. On September
9, 1983, a legislative decree no. 69 was
issued, which vested public authorities with
broad prerogatives to regulate the land use,
and to determine the locations and forms
of urban extensions and of constructions. It
also provided these authorities with many
competences for implementing urban plans.
The National Physical Master Plan for
the Lebanese Territories is considered the
unique official national framework. This plan
defines a national policy frame for re-balanced
demographic, economic, industrial, agricultural
and environmental conditions. After analyzing
the existing data and statistics and elaborating
the various demographic, economic, urban and
transport studies, the Plan concluded with a

The National Physical Master Plan
for the Lebanese Territory



Concepts and Implementation Procedures

set of recommendations and future directions

that would be adopted for policy making
purposes. This plan constitutes a referential
framework for the regional/local master plans
prepared by the Directorate General of Urban
Planning in an attempt to align them with the
national trends and with each other when they
are related to two adjacent regions

Public Institutions Concerned

with Planning
1. Council for Development and
Reconstruction (CDR): It was established
by virtue of the legislative decree no. 5/77
dated January 31st 1977 and is directly
accountable to the Council of Ministers through
the Prime Minister. This legislative decree
has vested the CDR with wide prerogatives
in the field of planning, however, taking into
account the necessary consultation and
cooperation with the concerned ministries,
public institutions and Municipalities. The CDR
is entrusted with the following tasks:
Devising global and specific plans
and programs for reconstruction and
development, and to propose various
economic, financial and social policies;
Putting forward a budget plan related to the
implementation of the global plan;
Proposing draft laws pertaining to
reconstruction and development and
submitting them to the Council of Ministers;
Preparing the general framework for urban
planning in Lebanon.
The CDR executes various projects determined
by ministries and public institutions. In addition
to the above-mentioned tasks, the CDR
prepares calls for tenders for consultancy
offices and contracting companies and
supervises their work.
2. Directorate General of Urban
Planning (DGUP): It is responsible for
formulating draft legislative and regulatory
texts pertaining to urban planning and
construction to be submitted to the Higher

Council of Urban Planning. Upon approval,

these texts are presented to the Presidency
of the Council of Ministers for all legal intents
and purposes. The Directorate General is also
entrusted with developing designs, master
plans, zoning as well as land parceling.
Usually, these tasks are carried out through
commissioning consulting firms that submit
the proposed plans to the DGUP for review
and are then submitted to the Higher Council
of Urban Planning for approval and finally
submitted to the Presidency of the Council of
Ministers for all legal intents and purposes.
Technical Procedures
All technical and engineering
procedures that concern Municipalities
are dealt with by the regional technical
offices affiliated to the DGUP except
for Beirut and Tripoli Municipalities and
the Unions of Municipalities of Metn,
Jbeil and Kesrouan.

3. Municipalities and Unions of

Municipalities: According to Article 49
of the Municipal Law (legislative decree no.
118/77), the Municipality can, in collaboration
with the DGUP, draft its master or detailed
plans, designs as well regulations, and parceling
projects. In order to do this, the municipality
commissions a consulting firm, and later
submits the study to the Higher Council for
Urban Planning. However, and in most cases,
the Municipality is unable to lead on its own
this process due to limited financial and human
resources. Thus, it solicits the support of the
Directorate General of Urban Planning.
It is worth noting that since few years, a
number of Unions of Municipalities have started
developing regional strategic plans in collaboration
with a number of agencies and international
organizations such as the World Bank, the French
Development Agency, United Cities and Local
Governments, UN-Habitat, etc. While such plans
may not lead to the design and implementation
of important projects, they however abide by the
regulations and laws in force.


The Municipal Context And The

Strategic Planning Challenges
The number of municipalities in Lebanon is relatively large when compared to the countrys
surface and demography. Lebanon counts a total number of 981 Municipalities (according to the
figures of the Municipality of Interior and Municipalities, autumn 2011), distributed as follows:
Number of registered

Number of members of
the Municipal Council

Number of

% of Total

2000 - 4000
4001 - 24000

9 to 12
15 to 18
21 to 24



The municipal law authorizes Municipalities

to play a leading role in the local planning
processes. In fact, they are the key local
agents concerned in the management of
their territories, including identifying their
capacities and discerning their problems.
However, due to the small size of the majority
of Municipalities and their limited human,
technical and financial capacities (nearly 98%
of the total), Municipalities are unable to
develop local plans on their own. Furthermore,
it is sometimes indicated that a large number
of Municipalities share with other neighboring
Municipalities homogeneous urban space with
common topographic, environmental, social,
cultural, and other features. In other instances,
there are no common denominators among

Municipalities despite falling within the same

Union of Municipalities. Therefore, except for
big cities, it would be challenging in Lebanon to
have one strategic plan for one Municipality.
These Unions encompass a total of 600
Municipalities, i.e. about 62% of the total
number of Municipalities. Although their
establishment is based on political and regional
considerations, the existence of Unions offers
a great opportunity for the enhancement of
municipal work providing that Municipalities
affiliated to a specific Union are able to interact
and cooperate to face common problems.




Concepts and Implementation Procedures

Lebanon has 47 Unions of Municipalities, distributed as follows:

Governorate of Northern Lebanon
Governorate of Mount Lebanon
Governorate of Beqaa
Governorate of Southern Lebanon
Governorate of Nabatiyeh

Governorate of
Southern Lebanon



Governorate of
Northern Lebanon





Governorate of
Mount Lebanon




Governorate of


Governorate of










West Beqaa


Bint Jbeil







Municipalities and Unions of Municipalities can be divided into three levels. Those have been
classified according to the urban expansion trends and to the prevailing local political context.

At the level of Municipalities

- Small Municipalities are primarily located at
the peripheries and are witnessing a continuous
decline in the size of their population.
In these Municipalities, the number of
registered voters exceeds the number of
residents and people coming from other
villages and towns. This reality has two
implications. On one hand, these Municipalities
lack human and financial resources (either
from the money transferred through the
independent municipal fund or from revenues
generated by local taxes). On the other hand,
migration constitutes the major challenge for
the sustainable development process in these
- Small and medium-size municipalities with
the number of residents exceeding the number
of registered voters.
In general, these municipalities are either the
administrative capital of a Caza or are located
in the suburbs of big cities. In this particular
case, although they are more resourceful
due to the large tax revenue, urban pressure
constitutes a major threat to the sustainability
of the environment and the social structure of
these Municipalities.
- Major cities enjoying significant resources
and large-scale administrative bodies.
These municipalities have a vast experience
in the field of municipal work. Nevertheless,
despite the fact that they represent vital
economic hubs in Lebanon where the
demographic density in the highest, they
require continuous monitoring and evaluation
of their strategies in order to face the
urban transformations and respond to their
development needs.

At the Level of Unions of

- Large-scale Unions of Municipalities covering
a large surface and sometimes and an entire

Caza. Due to the difficulty in developing

one strategic plan covering the entire area,
the Union of Municipalities should consider
dividing the area either into homogenous
geographical regions or into sub-regions
agreed upon between affiliated municipalities.
- Unions of Municipalities that are not
connected geographically. This type poses
a challenge in relation to the preparation
of a strategic plan that is convenient for all
the Municipalities affiliated to the Union.
Furthermore, this type requires flexible
strategic planning encompassing a number
of orientations that respond to common
challenges shared by a group of Municipalities
that are geographically connected.
- Two or more Unions of Municipalities sharing
homogeneous territories: In that case, it is
essential to integrate strategic planning within
the common projects of such unions.

Municipalities or Unions of
Municipalities are faced with a
number of challenges in the strategic
planning process.
Those are detailed as follows:
1. Regulatory Challenges: The Lebanese
Municipalities are subject to the legislative
decree no. 118/77 and its amendments. This
decree vests the Municipalities with large
powers in order to manage any work having
a public character or utility within its area.
However, other decrees were issued and
lead to constrained municipal work. In fact,
the majority of the decisions taken by the

Municipal work is hindered by the

centrality of decision-making. This limits
the prerogatives and independence of
Municipalities and minimizes the chance
to develop strategic plans that often
requires the amendment of some laws
and decrees in force.




Concepts and Implementation Procedures

Municipal Council are subject to the prior

supervision of the representatives of the
central government, namely the Governor and
the Kaem Makam or the financial controller.
Moreover, other guardianship authorities
impede the work of Municipalities, namely
the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, the Court of Audit, the Central
Inspection Board, the Directorate General of
Urban Planning, the Directorate General of
Antiquities and others.
2. Financial Challenges: The first article
of the Municipal Law grants Municipalities
some financial independence. However, the
direct taxes collected by Municipalities remain
limited and are barely sufficient to pay the
salaries of employees. Taxes are two types:
direct taxes and include fees imposed on
the rental value of houses, pavements and
sewers, as well as construction and advertising
licenses. As for the indirect taxes collected by
the State administrations and institutions on
behalf of Municipalities and deposited in the
Independent Municipal Fund, they are paid
irregularly based on the number of registered
people and not on the number of residents.

The current centralized financial

policy (i.e. Independent Municipal
Fund) limits the ability of
Municipalities to formulate and
implement strategic plans, since the
amounts are irregularly transferred
and not sufficient for implementing
development projects or for providing
the different services.

3. Administrative and Technical

Challenges: The majority of the Lebanese
Municipalities lack qualified human resources,
especially in terms of technical competencies.
This is due to several factors, namely the
issue of recruitment in public administrations,
the under-developed qualifications of existing
staff and the very low wages compared to the
private sector. These factors have negative
consequences on the proper functioning and
the quality of the municipal work.

Strategic planning requires

varied human competencies and
qualifications. Municipalities and
Unions of Municipalities suffer from the
lack of competent human resources; as
candidates with specialized technical
competencies do not apply to work for

4. Politics and Decision Making

Challenges: The municipal elections generate,
in general, municipal councils that have no
common and clear development vision and
plans. They are rather the product of political
or family-based agreements. The role of
the members of the Municipal Council often
becomes limited directly after the elections,
except for the President and the VicePresident. In some instances, political figures,
including deputies and ministers, impose
themselves as representatives of their city and
take decisions related to daily affairs and their
relevant projects, and they seek to implement
them through the centralized State institutions.

Municipalities in Lebanon are

affected by the absence of an
institutional framework needed
for the progress of their work. The
newly elected Municipal Council
can cancel a strategic plan that a
former municipal council prepared
and already proceeded with its


Local Strategic Planning At The Level

Of Municipalities And Unions Of
Definition of Local Strategic Planning
Local strategic planning can be defined as participatory and interactive process encompassing
all society constituents. It helps decision makers identify future trends based on the current
challenges and opportunities. It also provides a tool to devise scenarios for possible solutions
related to the spatial dimension as well as the available frameworks and financial capacities.
Strategic planning serves the dual
purpose of:

and master proper policies aiming at

achieving local development.

1- Representing a political, economic and

environmental reference guiding local
authorities towards designing proper policies
that would ensure a balanced distribution of
resources, services and opportunities within
the urban area.

2- Accurate information should be available

to allow Unions of Municipalities and big cities
assess their situation and determine their
capabilities in order to prepare plans and
negotiate them with the central government
and other concerned parties.

2- Constituting a database that includes, in

addition to indicators, the principles of rights
to the city. Thus, it is imperative to adopt the
appropriate strategic planning process that
caters to the needs of different types and sizes
of municipalities, be them small, medium or

3- Technical and administrative competencies

and capacities should be available with local
authorities to elaborate relevant strategic

For strategic planning to be successful, a

number of key challenges should be overcome:
1- Local authorities should efficiently design

4- The ability of the local authorities to

achieve the pre-determined goals and
allowing for a wider local community
participation (the registered and nonregistered ones) and establishing efficient
partnerships with civil society institutions and
the private sector.




Concepts and Implementation Procedures

Elements of Local Strategic Planning

Local strategic planning encompasses four
main elements:
- The urban space
- Local authorities
- Sources of information
- Monitoring and information analysis
Each of these elements contributes to local
strategic planning process, forming a full cycle.
The interaction between these elements leads
to the production of applicable and adopted
local plans that are based on accurate data and
indicators and are linked spatially to a specific
geographical frame. In order to achieve this,
two main conditions should be met: 1- Relying
on the National Physical Master Plan of the
Lebanese Territories as a reference for the all
types of interventions that resulted from the
local strategic planning process. 2- Adopting
a participatory approach to strengthen the
capacities of community constituents and to
create the proper socio-economic and political
environment needed to the success of the local
strategic planning process. Strategic planning
is considered incomplete if any of these four
previously mentioned elements are missing.
The strategic plan can cover an urban
area that surpasses the municipalitys
administrative boundaries and accordingly
it could cover a number of Municipalities
Strategic planning relies on collecting and
analyzing data with the full engagement of
community representatives who do not only
provide and analyze information but also take
part in concluding the core problems of the
studied urban area.
The interaction between the four elements
leads to successful strategic planning. This
latter would be incomplete and rejected by
local communities in case local authorities
consider themselves the sole party capable
of identifying and analyzing problems based
on their sources of information. Moreover,
strategic planning would be incomplete if the
urban area is not determined correctly and not
linked to the existing problems.

Structured System

Social Situation
Economic Situation

Dismantling & Analyzing

main Structures

The Structural System


Analyzing Relations
between Structural Elements

the Complex System


nal M

aster Plan for



and Analyzing Urban

al Ma

ster Plan fo

ta and Proce
rban Da
ing U




Analyzing U



- Municipalities
- Unions of Municipalities
- Council of Development
and Reconstruction (CDR)
- Urban and Municipal
- Others




ring a






- Local
- Regional
- National

plementing U
and Im




These elements are explained as follows:

Urban Area
It refers to the inhabited geographic scope, which can be limited to the boundaries of a municipal
domain or surpass it to reach neighboring Municipalities or Union of Municipalities, depending on
the existing shared problems. The urban area represents a structured system that is formed of a
number of layers. During the strategic planning elaboration process, this system is dismantled; its
layers and levels are identified,and analyzed to allow gain a better understanding the underlying
relations between these different components, either in terms of problems, the size and
geographical scope, and the extent of their linkages and similarities with other Municipalities. At a
later stage, this system is re-assembled according to the results of the analysis.

Local Authorities
The term indicates relevant elected or
appointed authorities and administrations
concerned in planning. Due to their presence
and location, local authorities act as a
reference in promoting partnerships with
the civil society and the private sector in an
attempt to improve the quality of service
provision, to enhance social responsibility,
and to ensure the participation of residents in
devising public policies. The essential role of
these authorities lies in the decision-making
process depending on available financial
and human capacities and legal frameworks
regulating their mandate.

Sources of Information
These are the available sources that are
linked to the problems and issues related to
the urban area. They can be obtained from
relevant NGOs as well as public and private
institutions (universities, research laboratories,
Municipalities, media, trade unions,
associations, etc.). Information usually covers
local, Municipal, Unions of Municipalities,
regional or national levels and is presented in
the form of different indicators that contribute
to decision-making and policy formulation.

Monitoring and Analysis

It uses available mechanisms and structures



Concepts and Implementation Procedures

to analyze information related to the main issues and problems and to identify the indicators that
would determine future transformations. The indicators rely on the contributions of experts and
residents to unveil common challenges and goals and help governments at the local and national
levels to reconsider the goals and priorities of their policies in light of the new challenges and
Monitoring means controlling and following up on a specific case and identifying
the new relevant changes, be them positive or negative.

Local Strategic Planning Process

The Local strategic planning process answers the following four key questions. Where are we
now? Where do we want to go? How do we get there? Have we arrived?
Each of these questions is considered a phase by itself, which means that the local strategic
planning process includes four phases each consisting of a number of steps. These phases and
steps constitute an integrated cycle (see graph below). Since strategic planning is a long-term
process, it should be flexible, and subject to amendments and revision according to the changes
that could occur during the implementation process.

Local Strategic Planning Cycle

Preparatory Phase
Decision by the Union of Municipality
Formation of the eld team
Community Mobilization & participation



W here






Identification of Strategic
Objectives and Directions

Monitoring & Evaluation




to g



A S get th e
E 3 re?


Adjustment of Process








Action Plans


Reference Plan