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, 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
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
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."
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