Flood Risk Management Structures in Aarsal and Ras Baalbek save Lives of the locals and the Syrian Refugees in Bekaa Region


“The damage that we used to witness before did not happen this time” wrote the Mayor of Aarsal to UNDP on the 12th of May 2014 after his village and the neighboring village of Ras Baalbek witnessed heavy rainfall resulting in floods of extreme intensity between the 7th and 9th of May.

The common watershed of Aarsal and Ras Baalbek is subject to a particular rain event. It is caused by a combination of humidity and hot temperatures leading to evaporation and quick condensation into a high intensity rainfall leading to floods that flow through the Aarsal and Ras Baalbek watersheds. These floods used to cause heavy destruction of property and damages to houses, orchards, shops and lead to the death of livestock and the injury of people.  An estimate of direct damages resulting from each flood event can reach up to 5 million dollars.

The talk of the town in Aarsal is that the reservoirs saved the locals and a large number of Syrian refugees currently in the area from a major disaster. This was conveyed in the letter of the Mayor of Aarsal to UNDP.

The UNDP project “Flood risk management and soil conservation for livelihood recovery in Baalback-el Hermel” that was funded by the Lebanon Recovery Fund and implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, designed and built flood protection measures in the forms of reservoirs and walls to intercept flood waters and reduce the damage in the concerned villages.

Between the 7th and the 9th of May 2014 heavy rainfall hit the “jourd” (drylands) of Aarsal and Ras Baalbek resulting in a flash flood that flowed, as reported by eyewitnesses, for 15 hours.  The flood event is considered exceptionally extreme because of the length of time the flows lasted and the fact that it covered both the watershed of Aarsal and Ras Baalbeck.  The strongest reported flood in recent times lasted for only 7 hours covering only one watershed.  It was reported that the flood went through the constructed flow channel and did not cause any damage to the village.

The talk of the town in Aarsal is that the reservoirs saved the locals and a large number of Syrian refugees currently in the area from a major disaster.  This was conveyed in the letter of the Mayor of Aarsal to UNDP.