Photo by Emile on Unsplash

By Rola Annan

Lebanon Today
Lebanon’s crisis, a multi-layered socio-economic crisis, began few months before the world pandemic and continues after the biggest non-nuclear blast in history (Beirut August Blast).

According to Human Rights Watch, Beirut blast killed 218 people from different nationalities; Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Philippines, Pakistan, Palestine, the Netherlands, Canada, Germany, France, Australia, United States. It has wounded 7,000 people and caused 150 disabilities with untold psychological harm for hundreds of people. It has damaged 77,000 apartments and displaced over 300,000 people. At least three children ages 2–15 lost their lives. Thirty-one children required hospitalization. One thousand children were injured and 80,000 children were left without a home.

The blast has destroyed 163 public and private schools and rendered half of Beirut’s healthcare centers nonfunctional. It has impacted 56% of the private businesses in Beirut. There was extensive damage to infrastructure, including transport, energy, water supply and sanitation, and municipal services totaling US$390–475 million in losses. According to the World Bank, the explosion caused an estimated $3.8–4.6 billion in material damage.

While experts are having a hard time measuring how severe the crisis is, and while zero reforms have been introduced from the government, “82% of the population lives in multidimensional poverty, which takes into account factors other than income, such as access to health, education and public utilities” (UN, 2021).

Today Lebanon witnesses the biggest migration rate in history. In 2019, the rate increased to 89% from 2018. The BCBA body was also affected as many left the country. In the midst of all this and we refer to the objectives dictated in the bylaws to report on our activities. In its bylaws, ABAL aims to:

  • Serve as a scientific and professional reference and networking group for its members.
    • a. ABAL continues to expand its social network and membership body to promote this objective in 2021.
      • i. Facebook followers increased from 300 to 1397
      • ii. Instagram followers increased from 200 to 464
      • iii. ABAL members increased to 77 members
  • Disseminate information to promote its mission to a wider audience.
    • a. Organized online webinars last April, 2021 (Autism month).
  • Organize an annual business meeting to provide a forum for discussion of the affairs of the chapter.
    • a. Members met monthly or more to check on members state in crisis, organize April webinar and discuss fund raising opportunities for the chapter.
  • Protect ABA consumers and practitioners by promoting and maintaining high ethical and professional standards among behavior analysts in the fields of education, business, therapeutic and environmental services in Lebanon.

BCBAs in Lebanon have maintained a strong stand demonstrated by continuing to show commitment to ABAL, striving to keep ABAL alive with all the challenges, continuing to be with the people in the field or online. Following up with the ministries for registration is ongoing:

  • Raise awareness about the importance of implementing evidence-based practices, and scientific interventions while avoiding pseudoscientific practices
    • a. Organized online webinars last April (Autism month) attached in Appendix A.
    • b. The total number of attendees on the webinars ranged between 60 and 90 per webinar, totaling 600 from Lebanon, GCC, Middle East and the United States.
  • Set standardized criteria for the practice of ABA.
    • a. As the crisis has affected our legal registration due to ministries changing boards and consequent freezing of related operations in the ministries, we await having a firm legal existence to set and announce criteria for standardization. Last follow up in February 2021 indicated that we got the approval from the Ministry of Health and now awaiting the last one: Ministry of Internal Affairs.
  • Bring together a community of ABA therapists, educators, professionals, and all those interested in the field of behavioral analysis.
    • a. ABAL now has 77 members from different nationalities.