Lebanon’s Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSA), in partnership with the European Union (EU), UNICEF and the International Labor Organization (ILO), launched the country’s National Disability Allowance (NDA).
The allowance is a social grant that will provide a direct income support to persons with disabilities living in the country. The NDA was designed to strengthen the existing national programmes and services dedicated to people with disabilities.
The NDA aims to support individuals with disabilities to face the extra cost of disability and facilitate their access to key services. While all persons with disabilities would ultimately be eligible to receive the NDA, youth aged 18-28 (born between 1995-2005) are prioritized during the first roll-out to support them in their transition to higher education or to joining the labor market. At least 20,000 individuals will benefit from a monthly allowance of US$40 each over an initial period of 12 months. The allowance is linked to the Personal Disability Card issued by MOSA’s Rights and Access program, which manages a digital registry of all card holders. Operational and technical support to the program and its centers was provided through UNICEF and ILO to aid the enrolment of eligible persons in the NDA.
During the conference, the caretaker Minister of Social Affairs, Dr. Hector Hajjar, thanked everyone who worked on launching this program and added: “We have taken a decision to support the most vulnerable groups in a structured way, and we are trying, through the National Social Protection Strategy, to ensure the continuity of this support for the most vulnerable at all levels. Instead of working in a continuous state of emergency, we went to work on building a transparent and automated system that establishes a new phase in Lebanon, with a unified social registry.”
“This is a pilot initiative. As we start its implementation, we look forward to working with all the partners to ensure its long-term sustainability,” said Alessandra Viezzer, Head of Cooperation at the European Union to Lebanon. The National Disability Allowance should continue and expand after the end of this pilot phase. The European Union hopes that the National Disability Allowance will be carried further as part of the Ministry of Social Affairs Rights & Access Program. The Allowance should become a legal right of all those that deserve such support”.
“Social protection is a human right. However, persons with disabilities are one of the most excluded and marginalized groups, and often face multiple challenges in realizing their human rights,” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in Lebanon. “Beyond the national vision to develop a social protection system for the long-term, a rapid scale-up of national social assistance is necessary for people with disabilities, given the current crisis in the country and to help them meet additional costs, compensate for lost or foregone earnings, and reduce the stigma often associated with disability, thereby supporting people with disabilities to live in dignity”.
“The new disability allowance is an important milestone in Lebanon’s expansion of its social protection benefits and moves the country a step closer towards achieving an equitable and rights-based social protection system that is accessible to all across their lifecycle,” said ILO Deputy Regional Director for Arab States Peter Rademaker. “People with disabilities are all too often excluded from key social, educational, and economic areas of engagement and participation, and such social protection program can provide them with basic income security and help them attain a more dignified quality of life,” Rademaker said.
The Ministry of Social Affairs will oversee the implementation of the National Disability Allowance that was developed through a EUR 20 million funding from the European Union, while UNICEF and ILO have been leading the technical, financial, and operational support. The National Disability Allowance will be added to the existing social assistance grants such as the "National Poverty Targeting Program" and "Aman Program".
In Lebanon, persons with disabilities face barriers to access basic rights such as education, health and social services. They remain subject to discrimination and at high risk of abuse; this is especially the case for women and girls. It is estimated that persons with disabilities face costs that are 35-40 per cent higher than those faced by persons without disabilities to achieve the same standard of living. Persons with Disabilities are at higher risk of vulnerability and poverty, a reality that has been exacerbated by the current crisis.
The program will have dedicated call center managed by UNICEF that is tasked to answer queries and resolve complaints from beneficiaries and can be reached through +961 4 727470, Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
National Disability Allowance (NDA) beneficiaries can receive their monthly allowance through more than 1,300 OMT locations across Lebanon.