A closure ceremony took place on Saturday, May 26, at Deir el Ahmar in the northern Bekaa for the "Sustainable environmental awareness raising for irrigation and domestic water consumption project, in the semi-arid region of Deir el Ahmar (Bekaa)". This event was held under the patronage of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform, Dr. Inaya Ezzeddin, and the participation of the head of the operations unit for governance and security Mr. Rein Neiland, representing the European Union Ambassador to Lebanon. It included a field visit of the water pools and the supply of the irrigation network. This project is part of AFKAR 3, funded by the European Union, managed by the Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform, and implemented by “Instituto per la Cooperazione Universitaria” (ICU), in collaboration with the Lebanese association for agricultural and social development.
AFKAR program manager, Mrs Youmna Chacar Ghorayeb, representing the minister Dr. Ezzeddin, highlighted the importance of water as a national treasure, which should be preserved. She insisted on benefiting from the experiences and innovations of civil society in this field, mainly in terms of rational consumption of water, which helps the farmers to stay in their land. As well, Mrs Ghorayeb encouraged the transfer and dissemination of existing expertise, especially during the training sessions, in order to reduce the cost and ensure the sustainability of the implemented projects.
From his side, the representative of the European Union, Mr. Rein Neiland said: "By working together, local authorities and the civil society have established a viable agricultural model that meets the needs of the local community and ensures water is available to every household in a semi-arid region of Lebanon. […]This pilot project has contributed to improving the socio-economic situation of the region and the living conditions of rural populations. It has also provided a motive for young women and men to stay in their region and contribute to its local development."
Dr. Hanna el Khoury, president of the Lebanese association for agricultural and social development, stressed on the necessity of the project for Deir el Ahmar and the region in the field of irrigation in this semi-arid area, as well as the necessity of consuming this water. Mr. Claudio Arigi, technical director of the ICU in Lebanon, presented the steps of the project and the techniques adopted in irrigation methods. Likewise, Deir el Ahmar federation of municipalities head, Mr. Jean el Fakhri, highlighted its importance.
This project aims to involve local civil society organizations and authorities in the development and management of sustainable environmental irrigation systems, which helps to improve the agriculture, reduce desertification and ensure water resources for the family and the laboratories in Deir el Ahmar.
The main achievements and outcomes of the project are: installation of a 10 km long irrigation water network in Beit Bou Slaiby, and between Aynata, el Mashaytiyyeh and el Karama to fill 5 lakes, water distribution to agricultural land in order to irrigate 100,000 trees for 400 farmers, creation of a 20,000 m3 lake in Deir el Ahmar 35 hectares of vineyards, 70 farms, installation of 200 meters for irrigation and improvement of farm techniques, domestic and industrial water treatment techniques facilities, training courses targeting about 300 farmers, as well as promotion and awareness campaigns on the importance of water management in dry areas.