In partnership with the University of Balamand, and under the patronage of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform, Dr. Inaya Ezzeddine, the Lebanese Association for Rural Development (LARD), held the closing ceremony of “Strengthening the capacities of civil society organizations and cooperatives in Akkar” project, funded by the European Union, at the University of Balamand - Issam Fares faculty of technology in Baïno.
The ceremony was attended by AFKAR program manager, Mrs. Youmna Chacar Ghorayeb, representing the Minister Ezzeddine, former deputy Nidal Tohme and a large range of representatives of civil society organizations, NGOs, economic, social, municipal sectors….
In her speech, Mrs. Ghorayeb explained that the program, in its third phase, financed two projects in the Akkar region, the first including the same technical orientation as adopted by LARD project while the second project focused on the agricultural sector in particular. She underlined the importance of the partnership between LARD and the university of Balamand, "which formed a point of strength, linking the reality with the academic efforts provided". As well, she stressed on the "need to consolidate the partnerships between different actors" in order to reach a common planification, taking into consideration the real needs of the citizens and the coordination of the implementation, which ensures the project sustainability and its consequences.
Then, LARD Secretary General, Jean Moussa, affirmed that many Akkar residents "aspire to an economic better situation, a huge improvement in their living standard and the establishment of investment projects that will transform their society from a rural society into a productive one, which is the best component of a sustainable development. He added that these projects can provide new job opportunities for thousands of young people and the employees with all their expertise". He explained that the project included a strategic plan for the development of Akkar which "will form a roadmap and a reference including the economic potential to attract investment."
The head of agriculture department at Issam Fares faculty of technology, Dr. Rodrigue Balaa, delivered the speech of the university of Balamand on behalf of the director of the faculty, General Elias Khalil. He underlined the university's commitment to the fundamental issue of human rights:"Development in the Akkar region is very difficult in the absence of support at all levels, but the one-thousand-mile road begins with its population".
Finally, a film presented the first step of projects that are implemented within the current project, (five projects funded at the rate of 55 million Lebanese Pounds each one). Certificates were delivered to those who attended and participated in the academic courses at Balamand university, and acquired a lot of skills as: management associations, feasibility studies, networking, advocacy and other courses that are not available in Akkar.