Creating more public space in Lebanon

Monday, November 17, 2014 - 13:37

Nahnoo is a non-sectarian and nonpartisan youth-lead organization that aspires to provide a platform for young Lebanese to engage in activities that promote self-development and self-expression and to gain the skills necessary to contribute to their communities meaningfully and peacefully.

ActionAid and Nahnoo are working together to prepare 20 young people to lead campaigns for more public spaces in Lebanon through capacity building in communication, leadership, conflict analysis and how to put these skills into practice; with practical sessions in advocacy, public speaking and legal and financial frameworks.   

Nahnoo already have some successes.

Horsh Beirut, an urban park in central Beirut, has been closed to the public since 1992.Through street campaigning, awareness raising and liaising with government officials, the park is now open part-time, and set to be open to the public, full time in 2015. Nahnoo believes that by providing this space, it will create a new platform for a behavioral change in how citizens participate in public life in Beirut.

"The living room is the most cosy area where all the family members can meet and talk, and it’s the same for the parks and public spaces. We want to create a place where all parts of society can meet," says Mohammad Ayoub, the founder of Nahnoo, meaning "We" in Arabic.

Nahnoo used their campaigning and advocacy skills to mobilise public momentum to open up Horsh Beirut Park, through street art and public stunts such as inviting people to a city wide picnic at dozens of locations across the city. They created a social media network as well as inviting print and broadcast media to their public campaigns.

After the success of the Horsh Beirut campaign, they are now planning four further campaigns in three Lebanese cities including advocating for a public beach in Ramlet Al-Bayda and the Baalbek Temple Campaign, which aims to raise awareness about the touristic sites in Lebanon.

Nahnoo is working with the municipalities in Lebanon to link them with their youth activities through organising public meetings and workshops. Through these linkages, they hope to set the scene that youth have a positive voice for change that could and should be heard for the long term.