Khaddit Beirut is a national grassroots initiative that was launched the day after the explosion, comprised of scholar-activists, artists, medical doctors, and business owners, who came together to develop a community-led, evidence-based, and locally driven roadmap for recovery. It is supported by OSB and AUB faculty and staff, including: Alain Daou, Lina Daouk Oyry, Lina Tannir, Leila Khauli, Charlotte Karam, Fida Kanaan, Wissam Sammouri, Wasim el Hajj, Carmen Geha, Najat Saliba, and many others, in addition to community members from Backbone.
Khaddit Beirut connects specialists to grassroots movements and citizens, in order to develop a concrete and achievable way forward, focusing on four areas: community health, environmental health, education, and small to medium enterprises. Our roadmap develops best practices from around the world, and draws on lessons from our own post-war context. As concerned citizens, we deserve to live and breathe in dignity.
According to Khaddit Beirut co-founder and Political Science Dr. Carmen Geha: “We are not just dreamers at Khaddit Beirut—we are doers—and know that we are not alone. Together, we have to break the cycle of despair and help each other rebuild for a better Lebanon.” OSB Dr. Wissam Sammouri adds “and a more transparent, Lebanon, driven by data and evidence based decision making”.
Khaddit Beirut will also be providing trustworthy expert guidance that responds directly to the immediate needs of the local community, and sets standards for relief and aid. This data will come from an interactive platform where members of the local community can upload their needs and priorities.
“The devastating explosion on August 4, 2020, shook us all to the core, and drove us into immediate action,” said AUB Dr. Najat Saliba, co-founder of Khaddit Beirut. These sentiments, held by many people, led to the formation of Khaddit Beirut, which brings together academicians, public figures, business owners, and activists to address immediate relief efforts in the wake of the blast, as well as longer-term reform efforts.
“In the absence of information and local data, estimating how businesses were affected, it was very difficult to get a sense of what was required. So we started systematically with understanding those needs,” said OSB Dr. Lina Daouk-Öyry, co-chair of the Local Businesses initiative, one of Khaddit Beirut’s mandates. Phase one kicked off with data collection from over 100 businesses; a telling effort, surveying employers of over 1,600 employees in the area, identifying key resources needed to get back up and running quickly. According to OSB Dr. Alain Daou, co-chair of the Local Businesses initiative: “Our support is not only in reconstruction, but also through sharing our expertise to provide them with a long-term vision to ensure their sustainability.” By partnering with Backbone Beirut, a local Community Service Organization that also emerged following the blast, OSB faculty are leading the efforts to support the recovery of restaurants, cafes, and other businesses in the affected areas.
Khaddit Beirut is counting on everyone’s support to revive this sector that represents a big part of the heart and soul of our city, and has established a transparent donation system through the AUB platform.