Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon, 2020
Nine years into the Syria conflict, Lebanon remains at the forefront of one of the worst humanitarian crises. The economic downturn, steep inflation, COVID-19 and finally the Beirut blast have pushed vulnerable communities in Lebanon - including Syrian refugees - to the brink, with thousands of families sinking further into poverty.
The Government of Lebanon (GoL) estimates that the country hosts 1.5 million1 of the 6.6 million Syrians who have fled the conflict since 2011 (including 879,529 registered with UNHCR as of end of September 2020 ). The Syrian refugee population in Lebanon remains one of the largest concentration of refugees per capita in the world.
The 2020 Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon (VASyR) was the eighth annual survey assessing the situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon to identify changes and trends in their vulnerabilities. Given the COVID-19 pandemic in Lebanon, most assessments and other activities requiring in person visits were either cancelled or postponed. Considering the prolonged socio-economic status in Lebanon and COVID-19, it was crucial to provide needs-based estimates on Syrian refugees in the country. Thus, the VASyR 2020 was one of the few assessments that were conducted face-to-face; the implementation was accompanied by a comprehensive protocol to ensure the safety of families and field workers. The criticality of conducting the VASyR 2020 was to provide insights about Syrian refugees impacted by the political and economic crisis that hit Lebanon in late 2019 and by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
Household and individual
The scope includes:
- key indicators on household demographics
- safety and security
- food security
- food consumption
- coping strategies and assistance
Livelihood & Social cohesion
Producers and sponsors
Sampling for the VASyR follows a two-stage cluster approach, keeping with the methodology of previous years. UNHCR database of known Syrian refugees as of June 2020 served as the sample frame. Cases with missing addresses were excluded. Sampling was based on a "30 x 7" two-stage cluster scheme initially developed by the World Health Organization. This method outlines a sample size of 30 clusters per geographical area and seven households per cluster which provides a precision of +/- 10 percentage points. Districts were considered as the geographical level within which 30 clusters were selected. There are 26 districts in Lebanon, where Beirut and Akkar each represent a district and a governorate. As such, to ensure similar representativeness with other governorates, an additional two cluster samples were considered for each, yielding 90 cluster selections for each. The governorate of Baalbek Hermel is made up of only two districts, as such, and to ensure an adequate sample in that governorate, one additional cluster sample was considered.
The primary sampling unit was defined as the village level (i.e. cluster) and UNHCR cases served as the secondary sampling unit. A case was defined as a group of people who are identified together as one unit (usually immediate family/household) under UNHCR databases. Using Emergency Nutrition Assesment (ENA) software, villages were selected using probability proportionate to size where villages with a larger concentration of refugees was more likely to be selected and 30 clusters/villages were selected with four replacement clusters, per district.
In order to estimate the sample size needed to generate results that are representative on a district, governorate and national level, the following assumptions were used:
- 50% estimated prevalence
- 10% precision
- 1.5 design effect
- 5% margin of error
Using the above parameters, 165 cases per district/cluster selection was required, leading to a target of 5,115 cases nationally. Due to the known high level of mobility of the Syrian refugee population and based on experience in previous rounds of VASyR and other household level surveys, a 40% non-response rate was considered.
Data collected through this assessment was weighted at the district level based on the population of refugees in each district. Weighting was necessary to ensure that the geographical distribution of the population was reflected in the analysis and to compensate for the unequal probabilities of a household being included in the sample. The normalized weight was calculated for each district using the following formula:
Normalised weight= (total sample frame of the district/ total national sample frame) / (total number of households visited in the district / total number of households visited)
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data Collection Notes
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, enumerator training took place remotely. Separate enumerator trainings were carried out online for each operational region (Bekaa, Mount Lebanon, North and South) covering the data collection tool, contextual background, methodology and ethical considerations. Additionally, enumerators were required to attend a two-hour online COVID-19 training, provided by the Lebanese Red Cross, which covered key information about the virus, transmission and precautionary methods. Data was collected and entered on electronic tablets by the enumerators during the interviews using KoBo toolbox software.
World Vision International
The 2020 VASyR questionnaire consisted of around 580 questions that collected data at the household level and individual level including demographics, legal documentation, safety and security, shelter, WASH, health, food security, livelihoods, expenditures, food consumption, debt, coping strategies and assistance, as well as questions specifically relating to women, children and people with disabilities.
Cite as follows:
UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF (2020) Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon, UNHCR microdata library, https://microdata.unhcr.org