Improving Farmers’ Livelihoods in Qabb Elias
Within the framework of the Lebanon Host Communities Support Project (LHSP), jointly implemented by the Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the rehabilitation of Qabb Elias irrigation canals project was implemented to support the farmers’ livelihood in the area and its surroundings.
Residents in Qabb Elias rely mainly on agriculture; however, water was not sufficient and agricultural lands were underwatered. Farmers used to rely on water coming from the river through natural canals taking hours to reach their lands, which forced them to rely on water trucking and pumps to irrigate their crops.
“We used to suffer from water loss; the soil canals would absorb three times the amount that reached us. With the new cement canals, water reaches our lands in five minutes rather than two hours,” said Bilal Hussein Ferro, water attendant in Qabb Elias. With the upgrade of the new canal system, 60% more water reaches the agricultural lands.
“The construction and design of the 11 km irrigation canals in the village is one of the most successful projects done,” Abdullatif Hussein Dalanki, a farmer from Qabb Elias said.
The project was identified as a priority by the local community, stakeholders and the municipality of Qabb Elias, through the Maps of Risks and Resources (MRR); a conflict sensitive participatory approach applied by LHSP. The new project will help farmers diversify their produce to include crops such as peach, apple, potato, lettuce, zucchini and peas.
Mayor of Qabb Elias, Jihad Al Mouallem, was happy with the results of the irrigation canals. “The project will increase irrigated crops and this will help the economy, increase the income of the farmer, and benefit the Bekaa region. Today, with the new irrigation canals, our lands have enough water.”
The project promotes the agriculture sector in the area, which is considered to be the primary source of income in Qabb Elias. In addition, 500 local farmers from Qabb Elias and the surrounding villages are being trained in business development and the benefits of cooperative work.
During a visit to Qabb Elias, in which he met farmers who benefited from the project, Ambassador of Japan to Lebanon Seiichi Otsuka said, “Amid the protracted crisis, we need longer term solutions that benefits both refugees and host communities. In a bid to strengthen the linkages between humanitarian aid and development cooperation, the Government of Japan announced the Emergency Grant Aid to Lebanon one year ago. Today, we are witnessing the result of the assistance”.
UNDP country director, Luca Renda, thanked the Government of Japan and praised the success of the irrigation canal at the inauguration, “Japan’s contribution carries an important message of solidarity to the community of Qabb Elias, which hosts a large number of Syrian displaced whose livelihood depends largely on agriculture. The new 11 km irrigation canal will allow for a significant increase in production and will expand economic opportunities for both Lebanese and displaced Syrians, fostering social stability and peaceful coexistence. UNDP is honored to be a partner of Japan in this important project”.
“This project supported the agricultural sector in the Bekaa by encouraging farmers and enrooting them in their land especially that the Bekaa region is rich with arable lands that provide quality produce to all of Lebanon,” said Suheir El Ghali, LHSP National Coordinator at the Ministry of Social Affairs.
LHSP, which is implemented in close partnership between the Ministry of Social Affairs and the United Nations Development Programme, has been contributing to the social stability and livelihoods of the most vulnerable communities to overcome the burdens of the Syria crisis since 2013.
- “This project supported the agricultural sector in the Bekaa by encouraging farmers and enrooting them in their land especially that the Bekaa region is rich with arable lands that provide quality produce to all of Lebanon,” said Suheir El Ghali, LHSP National Coordinator at the Ministry of Social Affairs.