Even though the account is positive and makes the point that the categories of ‘Lebanese’ and ’Syrians’ do not matter in social circles, it also reveals that exploitation is often nested in the more transactional relationships between Lebanese and Syrians. Our respondents also pointed out that there is a diversity of Lebanese attitudes towards Syrians, which often depend on people’s interests:
Lebanese construction workers hate Syrians because wages have gone down due to the large number of workers. On the other hand, the owners of houses and shops love Syrians because they rent their houses and shops. All of that is for the sake of profit. Those who gain say that they love Syrians, but those who don't gain want Syrians to leave…
Combatting exploitation and improving livelihoods opportunities for both Lebanese and Syrians would go a long way in mitigating these tensions. We believe that, once scaled up, the WhatsApp ‘Speak Your Mind’ tool will make four important contributions to development and humanitarian work.
First, it will give vulnerable communities more voice by creating a new, easily accessible channel of communication between international organizations and people on the ground.
Second, it will make project selection and design more inclusive, as the community input collected via WhatsApp is fed into needs assessment.
Third, it will boost monitoring and evaluation capacity, as bottom-up feedback supports a more rigorous evaluation of the impact and accessibility of projects long after they have been completed.
Finally, the tool will produce outstanding qualitative data on conflict dynamics that enriches early warning and tension analysis.
The result: better conflict prevention.
This initiative is made possible through the generous support of the UNDP Innovation Facility, funded by the Government of Denmark.
About the author
Leila Ullrich is a social stability analyst with UNDP Lebanon. Follow her on Twitter: @leilaullrich