Eco-friendly renovation brings light to Syrians in Lebanon

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Project has transformed conditions for a Syrian refugee family living in Beirut. For the first time in three years, Haela and her four children can finally enjoy fresh air and some natural light in their small one-room apartment in Ouzaii, a sprawling slum area in the south of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut.



Activity relation

Eco-friendly shelters

Key objectives

Bring better shelters that are environmentally sustainable to refugees.

Operational scenario

Lebanon is currently home to more than one million Syrian refugees, accounting for around a quarter of the total population. A 2016 study by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, found that 71 per cent of Syrian refugees in the country live below the poverty line, while 42 per cent of households live in dwellings that do not meet minimum humanitarian standards.


The situation prompted local Lebanese NGO Recycle Beirut to choose Haela’s house to implement their first house renovation project in Lebanon, using recycled materials and eco-friendly techniques.


Over the past two years, Recycle Beirut, which employs vulnerable Syrian refugees like Haela in its recycling warehouse, has been working to help clean up the environment and solve the country’s waste crisis. Haela’s house is their first renovation project, which they describe as “slum upgrading”. “The first thing that we did was to create windows, let the sun in, put in some plants, and restore natural ventilation. Then we moved on to using recycled material for the renovation of the house,” adds Rad. Most of the concrete used to renovate Haela’s house was made up of sand, quarried stone, finely crushed green glass and construction waste. The NGO applied a non-toxic water sealer to the outside of the house and installed a secure energy efficient electrical system and new piping made of polypropylene. It also used eco-friendly paints for the living room. For the furniture, it used reclaimed wood and fabric from Tekaya Design, who offered their products for free.

Lessons learned

The renovation project, which also provided employment for more than 20 Lebanese and foreign people from plumbers to designers and tile makers, took six months to finish and cost the NGO US$10,000.

Age, gender and diversity reflection

Recycle Beirut says it hopes to expand the pilot project to help more refugees and unprivileged Lebanese residents to live in improved and safer houses. “We’re doing a study on the entire slum to be able to pinpoint the most disadvantaged people living there so we can attend to their needs,” Rad says. “We want to create a space for all the designers, all the architects, all the people that are interested in this, in improving the lives of refugees, on one hand, and on the other hand, for slum dwellers, to be able to cooperate so both can benefit.”


Recycle Beirut and a variety of stakeholders.

Last updated: 02/11/2018

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  • By: Agnes Schneidt

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