Background Training for Rural Economic Empowerment (TREE) is a program designed to support the transition of men and women in rural or semi-urban areas into decent work using a community-based approach to income generation and skills development. By linking employment and income-generating opportunities with training and post-training support, with engagement from relevant institutional partners, TREE serves as a vehicle for the promotion of sustainable rural livelihoods. Furthermore, its focus on disadvantaged groups, such as women, young people and persons with disabilities, ensures that growth is inclusive.
Within a framework of strategic cooperation on technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and employability programs in Lebanon, the ILO and UNICEF, in collaboration with eight local partners, have adapted the TREE research approach and implemented it in seven regions of Lebanon: Chtoura and surroundings; Halba and surroundings; Wadi-Khaled; Minieh and Donnieh; North Beqaa (Hermel, Qaa, Labweh); Saida; and Marjeyoun and Hasbaya. These seven geographic areas were selected on the basis of their known vulnerability status. It was also important that a cooperation framework was already in place between UNICEF, ILO and local partners to link findings with implementation. Fieldwork was conducted in 2020 and early 2021, and analysis was completed by 2021.
The TREE methodology assesses market needs and opportunities, and data were collected at three levels:
• the community level, using a community profiling tool;
• at the household level, using the Consumer Demand Survey (CDS);
• at the business level, using the Market Opportunity Survey (MOS).
The community profile (CP) tool was administered to key local informants, including municipality council members, social activists, TVET program designers and trainers, chambers of commerce and private businesses. On average, between 9 and 12 interviews were carried out in each region for a rapid mapping of the local community and its economy. The CP informed the selection of sectors for inclusion into the CDS and MOS. Four sectors with potential for youth employment and entrepreneurship were prioritized: accommodation and food services, food manufacturing, home construction and repairs, and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles. Cross-cutting retail services were also considered. In order to deal with COVID-19 restrictions, the CDS and MOS were conducted by telephone, and sampling involved a snowball approach.
A total of 2,998 CDS questionnaires were administered, with an average of 428 surveys per geographic area. The sample comprised 52 per cent males and 48 per cent females. Around 20 per cent of the respondents were youth, and 37 per cent had achieved university-level education, including higher technical education.
A total of 1,792 establishments were interviewed for the MOS across the seven regions. Respondents included owners or managers of firms, 88 per cent of whom were male. Female respondents tended to be more highly educated than men; 59 per cent of them had achieved university education compared with 24 per cent of men. Around 87 per cent of establishments operated under single ownership, 9 per cent were partnerships, 3 per cent were SARL (limited liability) companies, and around 1 per cent were SAL (joint stock) companies.