Empowering Lebanon’s vulnerable youth through training and support

UNICEF combines Vocational Training’s knowledge acquisition with Cash for Work’s financial incentives to provide vulnerable youth with a focused set of skills while paying them a daily wage

UNICEF Lebanon
Standalone retail displays in Beddawi camp
08 April 2022

As the people of Lebanon struggle to survive during the country’s dire economic crisis, UNICEF continues to support its vulnerable children and youth. As part of the ongoing skilling and employability programme, more than twenty young men and women received training coupled with financial support and have now opened a ‘mouneh1’ business in the Beddawi refugee camp.

Across Lebanon, UNICEF’s Adolescent and Youth Programme combines Vocational Training’s knowledge acquisition with Cash for Work’s financial incentives. It provides vulnerable youth with a focused set of skills and knowledge to perform and master a particular job while generating a daily wage.

Cash for Work assists not only in the form of the restoration of livelihoods but through economic stimulation, which is an impetus for affected individuals to reinvest back into their current environment.

Twenty-two trainees – many of whom experienced prematurely-ended educational careers and have never worked - attended a forty-day long vocational cooking course at the Women’s Programs Association in Beddawi camp on the outskirts of Tripoli, north Lebanon.

In partnership with non-profit Anera - and co-funded by Germany through the German Development Bank KfW and the government of Norway - the group of eager youths worked closely with a professional chef to learn the basics of cooking and then focused specifically on the production of mouneh.

Acquiring focused knowledge on health, hygiene, and safety measures, being creative with resources, and preserving and storing different types of products, they also gained interpersonal communication, confidence in the kitchen, teamwork, and organizational skills.

With support from Anera’s team, under the supervision of their trainer and assisted by Women’s Programs Association staff, they launched a mouneh production start-up - the ‘Diretna Kitchen for Mouneh Products.’

Youth during the process of doing mouneh
Mouneh prepared by youth
One of the participant holding mouneh

After further work developing branding and product packaging, they installed display stands to market their items within the community.

The reaction was positive.

“People loved our products,” says trainee Jamila Zahir. “That encouraged us to move forward with our business.

“Our sales increased quickly, so we decided to increase our production and expand our business,” Jamila reports.

Together, they started an Instagram account, which helped increase sales even more.

‘Diretna’ has also installed additional standalone retail displays in other locations in the camp, further boosting sales.

This project is part of UNICEF’s nationwide support for vulnerable groups in Lebanon. It continues to expand its skills training and employment support service component through a pioneering Cash 4 Work (C4W) programme to recognize the challenges faced by today’s youth.

'Diretna’ standalone retail displays in Beddawi camp

1mouneh: the practice of preserving food through traditional techniques. The method remains an integral part of Lebanese food culture.