Wahda: Understanding the Impact of Youth Dialogue in Lebanon

The goal of this intervention was to contribute towards building communities that are accepting of Religious and Ethnic Minority populations in Lebanon through facilitated youth dialogue sessions.

‘Wahda’ stands for unity and togetherness in Arabic. It is through fostering this sense of unity and togetherness by building dialogue skills that this USAID-funded programme aimed to increase tolerance of difference and diversity of participating young people (aged 14 - 29) from October 2019 to December 2021.

The goal of this intervention was to contribute towards building communities that are accepting of Religious and Ethnic Minority populations in Lebanon through facilitated youth dialogue sessions at youth clubs in Saida and the surrounding region (Barja, Dalhoun and Siblin). The program aimed to achieve this by building the capacities of 20 facilitators, aged 18 - 29 to deliver and monitor dialogue-based activities to 250 participants, aged 14 – 17.

As part of the 13-module curriculum, beneficiaries took part in activities designed to develop their ability and confidence to engage in constructive dialogue with diversity. These activities were adapted for delivery via WhatsApp and Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Young people were also provided with opportunities to put these skills into practice by participating in facilitated dialogues (video conferences) with fellow participants in other Wahda dialogue groups, as well as global peers across Jordan, Palestine and the United Arab Emirates.

A Youth Dialogue Handbook was designed during the delivery of the Wahda programme. It provides a practical resource, in English and Arabic, to support teachers, facilitators, youth volunteers, practitioners, dialogue trainers, and anyone who wants to give young people, whether in school or elsewhere, an exceptional experience of dialogue with their peers and community.

The programme was successful, with an independent evaluation conducted by MEAL consultant, Aleph Strategies, reporting that as a result of the intervention, there were reduced perceptions of bias among participating youth toward other religious or ethnic minorities and increased tolerant and open-minded attitudes towards those who are different.

According to findings from the MEAL Results Report:

“Wahda offered safe spaces for youth from different backgrounds to interact together in an open and constructive dialogue. Such spaces are rare; especially those driven by youth for youth with a focus on self-expression and self-efficacy.”

Read the full evaluation here:

The design of Wahda builds on existing learning from over a decade of delivering Generation Global, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change’s global citizenship education programme that seeks to equip young people in over 30 countries with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to become active, global and open-minded citizens. Its resources, from which the Wahda curriculum was adapted, are available to use for free in English, Arabic and other languages here.

Wahda was implemented by Naba’a and the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Screenshot from a video conference between dialogue participants and peers from Palestine on the topic of Faith, Values & Communities, 13 December 2020.
“I did not use to accept others; especially those with a different opinion. After Wahda I have developed more trust towards others. If we are different, it does not mean that we cannot be friends.”
Syrian Sunni Female Participant