Under the patronage of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform, Dr. Inaya Ezzeddin, the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development organized the closure event of the PACCT project at the UNESCO Palace, in partnership with La Sagesse University. This project was implemented within AFKAR program, funded by the European Union and managed by the Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform. It aimed to enhance the capacity of 107 non-governmental organizations in four Lebanese regions: Akkar, Bekaa, Saida and the region.
Attending the event were the head of the operations unit for governance and security Mr. Rein Neiland, representing the European Union Ambassador to Lebanon, the head of the Hariri Foundation, Mrs.Bahia Hariri, the President of La Sagesse University, Dr. Khalil Chalfoun, and the Director of the Master's Unit of NGO Management at the University, Dr.Salim Sayegh, as well as representatives of the project partners, a number of heads of municipal federations, academic and private figures and representatives of the participating associations.
The Minister Ezzeddin said that the project is preparing new developmental starting in the four regions communities: "The issue of local development in the poor rural areas is our main matter, taking into consideration the growing need and the national interest, which requires us to create an atmosphere of harmony and cooperation, within transparent mechanisms that guarantee the basic rights of citizens and ensure them a healthy and prosperous environment".
She pointed out that "the developmental aspect in the current AFKAR 3 program is a priority, as the work focused on the best mechanisms for achieving sustainable development. For more efficiency, a local networking process started with the stakeholders (municipalities, local authorities), strengthening the implementation of local networking and the achievement of the partnership between the active organizations themselves, and the public sector. She also noted the competition between the emerging societies, which benefited from building their capacity and from the expertise transferred to them, in order to provide projects for funding and implementation.
Finally, she added that the project represented a field model to strengthen links between big organizations and small associations and enabled emerging institutions to play an active role in their communities. She stressed that the importance of this role is to be integrated with the development plans that we aspire to and to promote for a better future”.
The deputy and president of Hariri foundation, Mrs. Bahia Hariri, said in her speech: “"We are looking forward to enhance partnerships with partners through the development of civil networks, to improve civil work and strengthen its partnership in the decision making process, along with the state institutions, the private sector and the municipal, economic and social representative bodies". She called for converting the civil work from charitable and voluntary to specialized, permanent and stable work, expressing her confidence that these frameworks will enhance civil work and help to secure the requested financial resources for the good work. She expressed her pride in "the civil action history in Lebanon and the role of NGOs that have raised social responsibility in education, health and care, and have often overtake government performance and private sector contributions". She also insisted on the necessity to establish civil societies specialized on the development goals, in order to take into consideration the specialized and professional community energies. As well, she called to concert efforts and to consolidate energies in all fields. Lebanon remains the country of special partnership between the state, the private sector and the civil society.
La Sagesse University
The President of La Sagesse University, Dr. Chalfoun, talked about the University relationship with "the development and institutional work accordingly to its long history in the country". Regarding the ceremony, he noticed that “ it is a lively representation of our civil society, which is working with perseverance for human and community development that we want at the level of human value, commitments and all rights". He highlighted the national role of La Sagesse University and its important work, especially in the management of non-governmental organizations, seeking for peace and building a true citizenship that focuses on its role and strengthens in a country that needs solidarity in order to confront the threatens and dangers. He focused on the importance of a right state, as well as the solidarity with all parties seeking to improve the situation and develop the sectors. Besides, he highlighted the role of NGOs, especially with the parties. From his side, the Director of the NGO masters’ in the university, Dr. Selim Sayegh, said that “we are responsible for sustainable development. It is not only a ministry, institution or university matter, it is a citizenship concern ". He called to go beyond technical standards and felt that the true criteria for success is the team and volunteering spirit to implement steps and solve the problems. He highlighted the partnership with Hariri Foundation and the work as an unified educational team.
Mr. Rein Neiland, representative of European Union Ambassador to Lebanon, Mrs. Lassen, said in his speech: "The European Union considers civil society as an efficient and independent development actor, a force of change." "Civil society is an essential element of any democratic society. It contributes to the promotion of pluralism, can provide more effective policies that focus on equitable, sustainable and inclusive growth, and is able to clarify citizens' concerns and to respond to some of their relevant demands." He added as well: "EU programs targeting local communities reflect their commitment to promoting a more relevant, fair and democratic environment for civil society organizations to work with, and they are taken into consideration based on priorities and needs".
The project director, Mrs.Dima El Hassan, explained the idea of the project, its objectives, stages of implementation, the main focus of the project, the number of participating associations and their distribution according to the Lebanese regions. Then a short film has been presented. It was followed by the testimony of Michel Abu Haidar, a handicapped from the Bekaa, representing the civil society participants. He stressed on "the importance of the project in self organization and capacity building in our societies, and the understanding of the intentions of donor countries and institutions, in order to reach a unique and clear language." He added: "The project achieved great success regarding to its results on our associations, which dealt seriously with the contents of its twentieth sessions, covering areas of interest in a theoretical and practical way, combining at the same time the fun with the useful."
The opening session was followed by a panel discussion on financing programs in Lebanon for the participating associations and NGOs, conducted by Mr. Ramzi El Hajj from La Sagesse University. The participants were: Mrs. Roula Abbas (from the European Union), Mrs. Steen Horn (from the Norwegian People's Aid Organization in Lebanon), Mrs. Norma Wakim (from the British Council), and the director of AFKAR program, Mrs. Youmna Chacar Ghorayeb.