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Post-Israeli Invasion Reconstruction, 1982-84

When Amin Jumayyil took office in 1982, he assumed leadership of a country that, although stunned and paralyzed by the Israeli invasion, still had some positive economic forces at work. The Arab states were still providing financial assistance, although not as much as they had promised or as much as Lebanon needed. The four powers (Britain, France, Italy, and the United States) whose troops comprised the Multinational Force (MNF) in Beirut, created after the invasion, were all eager to see Lebanon regain its commercial prominence. International financial institutions, most notably the World Bank, believed that comprehensive reconstruction was possible. Even though the central government controlled only about a fifth of the national territory--Israel and Syria controlled the rest--there was an air of energy and determination in Beirut in the midst of apparently insuperable obstacles.

It was in this atmosphere that the CDR was to fashion its most ambitious reconstruction program. The program was projected in late 1982 to cost US$16.3 billion for the 9-year period 1982-91 (a revised 1983-92 version was estimated at US$17 billion in the spring of 1983). Once again, the plan proved overambitious. The CDR initially proposed that US$1.1 billion be spent in 1983, the first full year of reconstruction. In March 1983, however, the CDR proposed a much more modest start, entailing expenditure of just US$594 million during the year.

Housing was to get the largest share of reconstruction funds-- about 35 percent of all spending. The emphasis on Al Janub Province was to be maintained, although the previous "50 percent rule" no longer seemed to apply following the devastation of other parts of the country by the Israeli assault and continuing occupation. UNICEF was to administer US$15.8 million in project funds for rehabilitation of 200 schools.

In November 1982, a World Bank team visited Lebanon and presented a US$6.7 billion reconstruction program. But because of doubts about how much of the program could be implemented, in February 1983 the World Bank proposed a more limited reconstruction project designed to cover only the Greater Beirut area in which government or international forces were deployed.

The World Bank's program differed considerably from that of the CDR. The CDR emphasized that housing would account for 29.4 percent of all funding under the US$17 billion plan, whereas telecommunications would account for just 5.1 percent. Under the World Bank's US$6.4 billion program, housing was to get only 14.8 percent of all funds, while telecommunications would receive 16.3 percent. The World Bank's emphasis proved more relevant, and since 1982 there has been extensive repair, renovation, and replacement work on the country's shattered telecommunications systems.

There was a renewed emphasis on water management. Beirutis have long dug deep into the soil for fresh water. Digging accelerated during the bitter rounds of fighting in 1975-76 and in 1982. Sea water began seeping into the city's fresh water, and as Beirut's sanitary system disintegrated during the violence, unpurified water entered the drinking water system, resulting in considerable health hazards at times.

In 1982, before the Israeli invasion, the National Waste Management Plan was drawn up to provide the residents of 542 cities, towns, and villages--covering 83 percent of the population- -with solid and liquid waste treatment and disposal plants by the year 2000. This plan was incorporated into both reconstruction programs, with priority being given to the construction of main sewers in the principal cities. Foreign consultants were hired to get the program off the ground, but progress was much slower then expected because of fresh waves of conflict.

Considerable efforts to reopen Beirut's port were supported by a World Bank loan of US$50 million and funds from Arab nations and the United States. Transit sheds and warehouses were erected and old and damaged ones repaired. In 1983 work started on a new container terminal and on the expansion of the eastern end of the port. In the city center, the Oger Liban Company boosted morale in the autumn of 1982 as its trucks carted away months of refuse. The company also performed restoration work in 1983 and early 1984 on the old suqs (markets) in the commercial district. But the heavy fighting that accompanied the renewed partition of Beirut in February 1984 destroyed much of this work.

Data as of December 1987

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