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ORGANIZATIONAL LOCATION:United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat.
JOB OPENING NUMBER:20-United Nations Human Settlements Programme-133426-Consultant
FUNCTIONAL TITLE:Urban Planner - Housing, Land and Property Challenges faced in Syria by Refugees currently living in Lebanon
DURATION:40 days over a period of 9 months
Application Link Inspira

Result of Service

The research objective is to analyse and identify trends and patterns of HLP issues that Syrian refugees currently residing in Lebanon face back in Syria. The analysis will look at HLP issues, their implication for human rights protection, return and land administration, and to derive observations that can be used to inform discussions regarding HLP programming, development of an HLP mobile app for Syrians (submitted for funding separately), managing voluntary return scenarios, etc. Existing data on IDPs and complementary information on challenges of different groups extracted from literature review and other available sources will be used.

The outputs of the study will feed into the broader HLP work carried out by HLP partners in Syria, and in the development of the HLP digital platform, proposed as part of a larger-project scope in a different concept note. The study will also provide programming recommendations and policy guidance.

Project Focus

The research project will adopt the following strategy:

Capitalizing on lessons learnt:

The project will build on the findings and recommendations of previous HLP research conducted by UN-Habitat. More specifically, a recently undertaken study by UN-Habitat and UNHCR on Syrian refugees from Homs City residing in Lebanon will provide a solid base for the research methodology and a significant amount of data to work with.

Active engagement of partners and with existing frameworks:

The research will feed into the overall Housing, Land and Property Framework for Syria developed by UN-Habitat, NRC, and UNHCR. The framing and oversight of the research will be led by UN-Habitat’s Land and GLTN Unit and the recently established Regional Urban Recovery Framework Task Force of the Regional Office for Arab States. The Lebanon country office will lead the implementation of the research. Coordination with key HLP stakeholders – Protection Sector, Shelter Sector, HLP TWiG, NRC, UNHCR, GIZ, ESCWA, WB etc. – will be ensured at the design, data review and analysis and final review stages.

Work Location: Lebanon

Expected duration : The consultancy will be conducted within 40 days over a period of 9 months.

The consultant will be provided with an inception report upon contract signature and will be asked to provide a detailed work plan that will operationalize the consultancy.

The inception report will provide an understanding of the research questions, methods to be used, as well as the overall work plan with dates to guide the project process (a provisional timetable of the deliverables and outputs is provided in the table below).

Duties and Responsibilities

Organizational Background

UN-Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities. It is the focal point for all urbanization and human settlement matters within the UN system.

UN-Habitat envisions well-planned, well-governed, efficient cities and other human settlements with adequate housing, infrastructure and universal access to employment and basic services such as water, energy and sanitation. To achieve these goals, derived from the New Urban Agenda endorsed in October 2016, UN-Habitat has set itself a medium-term strategy approach for each successive six-year period. The Strategic Plan, 2020-2023 through which it proposes to serve Member States, sub-national and local governments, and other key urban actors in the pursuit of four mutually reinforcing and integrated Domains of Change or goals:

1. Reduced spatial inequality and poverty in communities across the urban - rural continuum;

2. Enhanced shared prosperity of cities and regions;

3. Strengthened climate action and improved urban environment; and

4. Effective urban crisis prevention and response.

The connection between sustainable cities and other human settlements is also emphasized in the New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goal 11. On the Regional level, UN-Habitat developed the Arab Strategy for housing and sustainable urban development 2030 in response to the challenges to the region. The Arab Strategy for Housing and Sustainable Urban Development is considered to be a framework for joint Arab action in housing and sustainable urban development which is an important step to strengthen regional cooperation in the Arab region and was approved by the League of Arab States during the Arab summit of 2016 in Mauritania. It aims to propose strategic goals and targets to develop the housing sector, address future challenges and achieve sustainable urban development through connecting them to the concept of urban planning and promote community participation in development and decision-making. The strategy covers the urban geographical scope of the Arab region that comprises of Twenty-two Arab states.

UN-Habitat has been in present in Lebanon since 2006. UN-Habitat’s Lebanon Programme focus on interventions that underscores the economic, social and environmental inter-relationship and interdependence that exist between rural and urban areas vital to sustainable development at a national level.

UN-Habitat’s Strategic Focus in Lebanon

The UN-Habitat country office in Lebanon was initiated in 2006, following two large-scale crises: The July 2006 war on Lebanon and the Syrian Refugees Crisis. UN-Habitat has steered most of its activities to focus on responding to emerging issues through reconstruction, shelter provision, basic services upgrading while also laying the foundation for long-term sustainable solutions.

The 2020-2022 Lebanon Country Programme draft document aims to promote the alignment of UN-Habitat normative and operational activities in Lebanon. It identified national urban development goals and priorities emphasizing the importance of local development and balanced regional development. The Country Programme document is consistent with UN-Habitat Lebanon’s three interlinked and mutually reinforcing focus areas that are aligned with the United Nations Strategic Framework:

1) Focus Area 1: Inclusive and sustainable urban development including promotion of national urban policies and environmentally sustainable cities.

2) Focus Area 2: Improved planning systems and frameworks with focus on access to accurate urban data and inclusive urban and land use planning

3) Focus Area 3: Effective urban crisis response involving HLP Rights and upgrading of

vulnerable urban neighborhoods.

Project Background: Housing Land and Property challenges faced in Syria by Refugees Currently Living in Lebanon research project

More than eight years into the conflict in Syria, the Syrian refugee crisis is categorized as a protracted situation and has placed massive strain on host countries’ economy and infrastructure. Data indicates that some 93 percent of Syrian refugees in the region (almost 5.3 million) live in host communities in urban, peri-urban and rural areas while only seven percent (376,000) live in camps. The shelter situation for refugees varies greatly between host communities. A recent study by UN-Habitat and UNHCR highlighted the informality of the rental market through which the majority of Syrian refugees access housing in Lebanon, characterized by deteriorating shelter conditions and poor tenure security, thus integrating into a larger pool of vulnerable population groups, including low-income Lebanese households (UN-Habitat and UNHCR, 2018).

Millions of Syrians fled the conflict-affected areas seeking refuge (whether inside or outside Syria), incurring the loss of civil and property documents for the majority of them. The level of damage and destruction, new informal and formal construction and secondary occupation are among the important factors that affect refugees’ access to their land and/or property rights. HLP issues are highlighted among the key barriers for return for many refugees, in addition to safety and livelihood concerns. A profound analysis of the HLP issues facing refugees (and IDPs) in their areas of origin in Syria is thus needed given that HLP issues are an imperative factor of post-war recovery and the restoration of HLP rights to displaced persons. Research has shown a preliminary assessment of the challenges facing refugees in order to claim their HLP rights, including civil and HLP documentation, access to information about HLP, legislative and regulatory complexities, gender-specific challenges, inheritance issues, etc.

The United Nations (UN) Secretary General’s Guidance Note on “The United Nations and Land and Conflict” recognizes that land and HLP issues are critical factors that—if not addressed properly—constitute a bottleneck for recovery after war and often even a relapse into conflict. In order for the UN and its partners to tackle the land and conflict nexus along the conflict cycle, there is a need for the analysis of HLP issues and of land/HLP-related risks and causes of conflict.

This research project will explore the HLP issues facing Syrian refugees currently residing in Lebanon. Its objective is to analyze and identify trends and patterns of HLP issues that Syrian refugees in Lebanon face back in Syria. The analysis will look at the issues in depth, utilizing existing data on refugees and IDPs and complementary information on challenges of different groups of refugees, extracted from literature review and other available resources. The research will emphasize the importance of contextualizing the identified HLP issues and will attempt to derive responsive solutions as to how to protect and/or retrieve HLP rights, looking in depth into gender-related issues. The research will be based on a literature review and the consolidation and analysis of primary and secondary data and qualitative information, to identify the most pressing HLP challenges and their resolution processes. The result will culminate in a report with maps and infographics, to be completed in close collaboration with the Lebanon Programme, the Regional Office for the Arab States, and the Global Land Tool Network. The research aims to increase the awareness of refugees on realizing their HLP rights, and developing programmes to support these efforts in the future.

Reporting line

On day-to-day support, consultation, logistics, and deliverable reviews, the consultant will work closely with the Housing Policy Analyst and on issues related to the project milestones and operational matters, the consultant will report to the Policy Development Unit Head.

Duties and responsibilities

The Housing, Land and property rights consultant shall be responsible for following-up and liaising with the project team to deliver all project outputs through reviewing and analysing available data for the area from required resources. Responsibilities include the following:

First: Literature and legal review:

• Review the existing HLP documents (including legal and regulatory text and analysis) to identify the key critical issues that concern refugees (and displaced people in general), including land administration and governance before the crisis and its evolution throughout the crisis;

• Conduct a literature review on displacement and repatriation, land and conflict nexus, and HLP/human rights protection in humanitarian crises;

• Conduct a review of at least one case study of HLP restitution for refugees and review ongoing programmes in the humanitarian response, to derive lessons learned and assess their scalability.

Second: Data analysis:

• Utilize available primary and secondary data in the analysis of identified HLP issues and trends;

• Provide input on data processing with the Lebanon Programme team;

• Prepare and conduct key informant interviews in coordination with the Lebanon Programme team.

Third: Validation workshop:

• Validate the delivered content through a workshop engaging relevant stakeholders.

Qualifications/special skills

Academic Qualifications: Advanced university degree on legal studies, urbanism, international law, public policy and administration, or related field is required.

Experience: a) Extensive legal research experience is required with ability to present credible findings derived from evidence and putting conclusions and recommendations supported by the findings. Experience of previous work produced by the consultant with international organizations is preferable and should be included in the expression of interest;

b) Country specific knowledge and understanding is desirable.

c) More than 10 years of experience working on housing, land and property issues in cases of forced displacement, governance, land administration, legal issues and in the Syrian context is required.

d) Experience working with refugees and IDPs with knowledge of the key issues surrounding the Syrian refugees’ crisis, especially in terms of HLP rights is required.

e) Relevant published research conducted on housing, land, and property issues for refugees and IDPs is preferable.

Language: The consultant should be proficient in reading and writing in English and Arabic which is a requirement.

Additional Information


Professionalism: Demonstrates professional competence and mastery of subject matter. Good research, analytical and problem-solving skills. Conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines and achieving results.

Analytical Skills: Ability to process and analyze complex information and datasets, conduct literature reviews and consolidate theoretical frameworks and evidence in a comprehensive manner in synthesis reports.

Communication: Excellent and effective written and oral skills. Ability to present information in a concise and accurate manner, proven ability for preparing comprehensive documents and reports.

Teamwork: Works collaboratively with colleagues to achieve set goals. Solicits input by valuing others ideas and expertise and is willing to learn from others.

Planning & Organizing: Proven ability to plan, coordinate and monitor own work. Ability to work under pressure and uses time efficiently. Identifies priority activities and assignments, adjust priorities as required.

No Fee