AFKAR Program held at the Ministry of State for Administrative Reform a long day for the media to shed light on the projects implemented under the EU-funded AFKAR III program. The day started in the morning with a meeting sponsored and attended by the Minister of State for Administrative Reform Dr. Inaya Ezzeddine, along with representatives of organizations funded by the program, journalists and the AFKAR team. A field tour was then conducted to visit the program’s projects in Beqaa.
Addressing the journalists, Minister Ezzeddine underlined the important role played by the media, especially that it is not only about ensuring a technical coverage that highlights the projects and their implementers, but also about raising awareness on the evoked issues and relevant remedies, thus allowing the dissemination of information and ensuring accountability at all levels. Ezzeddine pointed out that media are a main partner in any development process besides being a partner in the political and economic process.
The role of civil society was brought up by Dr. Ezzeddine who lauded its exceptional potential and called to support it. The minister also emphasized the importance of volunteerism and indicated that the main concern is to measure the impact and sustainability of implemented initiatives and projects. The success and viability of existing initiatives require a realistic approach that takes into account the real needs of our society. A comprehensive developmental vision needs to be put in place based on past experiences and learned lessons.
Minister Ezzeddine encouraged AFKAR’s plan to institutionalize and develop the capacities of civil society organizations, and to enhance accountability according to the principles of good governance. She pinpointed the importance of partnership between the public sector and civil society and called for the adoption of a scientific methodology and the development of a strategy whereby civil society, local authorities and competent ministries collaborate to achieve the desired goals.
The meeting included a presentation made by AFKAR manager Youmna Chacar Ghorayeb followed by a short video. Ghorayeb introduced the program which emanates from OMSAR’s strategy and highlighted its goals, namely the institutionalization and capacity building of CSOs to turn them into active partners for the consolidation of democracy, reform and socioeconomic development. She clarified that AFKAR III has technically and financially supported 24 projects, 11 of which have already been implemented and the remaining 13 are still ongoing. The presentation provided a quick snapshot of these initiatives focused on socioeconomic development.
After the meeting, the participants headed for the Beqaa region where they made a first stop to check some handmade activities and products made by the beneficiaries of Makhzoumi foundation’s project in the region. The project manager Salama Naamani explained that the project includes several components, mainly: the environment through raising awareness among students on environmental preservation and the use of alternative energies with the installation of solar heaters in a number of schools, and women empowerment through vocational training especially on knitting and handicrafts to be marketed.
The second stop was in Deir Al Ahmar where the participants visited the project of the Italian Cooperation Institute and the Lebanese Association for agricultural and social development, focused on improving irrigation methods and conserving water to enhance agriculture. The project constructed a 23 thousand m3 water impoundment pond for rainwater and snow, which allowed the establishment of new farming spaces around it, especially grapevines that don’t need much irrigation, and the exploitation of grapes through winemaking. Participants inspected the water installations executed by the project from Abou Salibi pond to the lands and gardens of the locals.
The last stop was at the headquarters of Deir Al Ahmar women’s association which is working under AFKAR on developing rural tourism through the construction of several small guesthouses (bungalows) and installation of solar panels on existing guesthouses, in addition to training tourist guides on work in the region and training women on different skills.