Annual Update 2020 VNG International

In Deir el Ahmar, Maarten Blokland conducted a feasibility study for one of MASAR’s projects that aims to improve the irrigation of agricultural fields by connecting them to nearby hill lakes.


MASAR builds the capacity of personnel in the Kwashe Solid Waste Plant to improve the maintenance and operations of the plant. This includes repairing and building the technical expertise for operating this broken conveyor belt.

MASAR provides advice regarding the treatment of algae in the Duhok Water Treatment Bassin as requested by the Directorate of Water. The advice provides recommendations on how to improve the quality of potable water.

‘Rebuilding the community will be more difficult than rebuilding the infrastructures.’

Eng. Bassem Yaqub Bello,

Mayor of Tel Keif (Iraq)

Dealing with Conflict, Fragility

and Migration by strengthening democratic

local government

Featured Project

Iraq, Lebanon, Maintaining Strength and Resilience (MASAR) for Local Governments





The conflict that erupted in Syria in 2011 has resulted in what is now the largest refugee crisis in the world. More than 5.6 million refugees are registered in neighbouring countries, primarily Turkey (3 million), Lebanon (1 million), Jordan (650,000) and Iraq (250,000 refugees and 1.5 million internally displaced persons). Aside from being a humanitarian disaster, the refugee crisis puts a heavy burden  on the communities in which refugees reside. From service delivery to housing, infrastructure, waste management or local economies, the mass influx of refugees presents many challenges to communities. Local governments are often the actors responsible for responding to these challenges.


This is why MASAR for Local Governments seeks to strengthen the long-term resilience of local  governments and their host, refugee and IDP populations to deal with displacement. Financed by the EU’s Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis (“MADAD”), the project targets those areas most heavily affected by the Syrian refugee crisis. By focusing on improving service delivery, area-based planning and facilitating better access to municipal investment, the project seeks to help local governments develop sustainable long-term solutions to the challenges they face. MASAR for Local Governments is implemented by VNG International in partnership with ACCD (Catalonia), PCPM (Poland) and KL (Denmark).



Achievements in the first project year (inception phase) include:



  • Completion of a needs assessment of our target groups and beneficiaries;
  • Seven (unions of) municipalities have been selected, primarily in the east (Baalbek-Hermel) and north (Tripoli and Akkar region) of Lebanon, housing a total of 550,000 inhabitants (including refugees);
  • Completion of feasibility studies for solid waste & water management activities;
  • Familiarisation of the local MASAR team with area-based & scenario planning;
  • In 2020 our activities mainly focus on waste, water, and crisis management.



  • A successful kick-off of the project in April 2019 with the signing of two letters of intent between VNG International and the Ministries of Planning of Federal Iraq and the Kurdish Republic of Iraq;
  • Identification of the challenges caused by the high influx of refugees and IDPs that VNG International could help with through the MASAR project. These include (1) Improving the operationalisation and maintenance of the solid waste plant (2) Developing crisis management procedures and processes to deal with natural crises that mostly affect vulnerable groups (3) Setting up a GIS Central Unit to improve area based planning activities (4) Identifying possibilities to improve public transportation, in particular for those most in need, and (5) Improving the wastewater system of the Domiz Camps in collaboration with UNHCR;
  • In addition, at the request of the Directorate of Water in Duhok, concrete recommendations were given to improve the quality of the potable water that Duhok provides to its citizens.


Both in Lebanon and Iraq, we have managed to register and establish our local office, select and hire staff and identify Dutch and European municipal expertise suitable for the needs of the MASAR target groups.