Lebanon's caisse mutuelle (mutual fund) system provides an excellent infrastructure for citizens to voluntarily create a common disaster insurance pool autonomously from the government, according to a commentary by environmental policy researcher and entrepreneur Mr Basil Mahfouz.
Writing in Executive Magazine, Mr Mahfouz says that a group of stakeholders can band together, agree on the terms and conditions for payouts, and contribute directly to a mutual fund that protects against natural or manmade hazards. The same funds can likely be reinsured on the private market as well, enabling access to more money when people might need it the most. The current framework provides a good stepping stone that could pave the way—with the right reforms, control, and oversight—for a national one.
Lebanon has seen several earthquakes as the country is located in an active tectonic system called the Dead Sea Rift, which divides the African and Arabian plates.
The World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction (GFDRR) puts Lebanon at a medium-risk level, estimating that there is a 10% chance of a potentially-damaging earthquake and tsunami to occur within the next 50 years.
Additionally, Lebanon’s offshore oil and gas operations are scheduled to begin along the MLT, and could trigger a larger earthquake in a shorter time frame.
To mitigate these risks, the government, with the support of international agencies, has been working to improve the country’s resilience to disasters. The government established a Disaster Risk Management Unit in 2009, followed by the National Coordination Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2013.
Despite these steps, the GFDRR notes that Lebanon still “does not have an operational disaster management plan”.