USAID Awards $17.26 Million to UAlbany's CLD to Strengthen Municipal Institutions in Lebanon

Contact: Vincent Reda, 518-437-4985

The Center for Legislative Development (CLD) at the University at Albany has been awarded a $17.26 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to continue its efforts to strengthen municipal institutions in Lebanon and increase their effectiveness in support of democracy.

Over the last two years, CLD, supported by a cooperative agreement with USAID, has provided technical assistance for 82 municipalities in Lebanon toward achieving these goals. As part of the Lebanon Project, CLD has helped to streamline key central government oversight agencies that create regulations deemed necessary to strengthen the role of municipalities.

This new USAID award expands CLD's assistance to all of the remaining 700 Lebanese municipalities. "This grant is an integral part of the foreign assistance program to Lebanon to foster economic growth and enhance citizen participation in the political process," said Jon Breslar, USAID Lebanon mission director. "This project will enhance this newly emerging democratic process and strengthen the relationship between citizens and their elected institutions."

"This will, in turn, protect the emerging democratic process from certain negative aspects that were a result of 16 years of civil war in Lebanon," said CLD Director Dr. Abdo I. Baaklini, who also directs the Lebanon project. He noted that, with the 1998 municipal election in Lebanon, the first in 35 years, more than 7,000 municipal council members were elected to design and implement local public policies in the country's municipalities.

"Municipalities, the intermediary government, the various oversight agencies, as well as the Lebanese Parliament will act capably and efficiently, by modern standards, once certain weaknesses in their structure have been addressed," said Baaklini. "The USAID and CLD program will usher in a new era in local government in Lebanon."

UAlbany President Karen R. Hitchcock said, "this latest expansion of CLD's Lebanon Project is a striking example of the critical difference a research university can make by infusing global perspectives throughout its academic programs. Under the leadership of Dr. Baaklini, our Center for Legislative Development has compiled an extraordinary 30-year record of facilitating efficient self-government in emerging democracies across four continents. Along the way, it has brought invaluable educational experiences in public administration to more than 1,000 students from America and abroad."

CLD's goals in Lebanon are to simplify municipal administrative procedures, standardize municipal budget revenue and expenditures, and utilize information technology to allow municipalities to provide services to their citizens in a transparent, efficient, and accountable manner. CLD will work with central government oversight agencies and the Lebanese Parliament on updating decentralization laws and improving intergovernmental procedures.

Mahmoud Batlouni, Lebanon Project Director for CLD, noted that, because of its extensive experience in Lebanon, CLD has developed "superb working relationships with all the principal actors in Lebanon. We do not need any start-up time to begin implementation of the project, since the required project implementation structure is in place."

Batlouni, a computer engineer with 15 years of system development experience, added, "We have developed most of the required information systems and databases for the municipalities. After minor modification to meet regional and district government needs, they will be ready for implementation. This will bring significant savings in resources and will permit immediate implementation."

CLD is the primary institution in the U.S. offering academic and applied studies in the administration of legislative organizations and in legislative research and information technology. For three decades, it has mounted training and technical assistance programs aimed at strengthening the capacity of governmental institutions-particularly legislatures-to support democratic development.

Successful activities and projects have been implemented in such diverse areas as Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Central Europe, and the Middle East. CLD has worked with USAID in Lebanon since 1993 to implement the "Lebanon Relief and Redevelopment Project."

For more University at Albany information, visit our World Wide Web site at


Return to University at Albany Home Page

Return to University News & Information Page