Mashghara is a town in West Bekaa, Lebanon which is known to have been the summer residence of Prince Fakhreddine the second. It is a town about which Feirouz sang her song “ya kamar Mashghara” (oh moon of Mashghara). It is mentioned in El Cheikh Hussein Ahmad Al Khushn’s Mashghara in History that Mashghara is 1100 years old and that the initial name of the village was Mougra. Also, the book mentions a myth surrounding the origin of the town’s current name; it recounts that that Prince Haydar Al Chahaby once said: “and it was said it is Mashghara and that is true,” because the town was characterized with a strong flow of water coming from Al Tannour, Al Dayaah, Al Knisseh and Abou Zaid springs. The origin of the word could be Phoenician or Arabic for “mashghar”, which has multiple meanings in the dictionary. It was concluded that “mashghar”, put in the context of the town’s profusion in water, means “strong and abundant flow of water”.
Currently, the town still enjoys the many springs from which it gets water, which is mainly used for agriculture. The agricultural land constitutes 30% of the total area of the village with more than 2250 people depending on farming as primary source of income. However, the 50-year-old infrastructure, which is mixed between earthen and concrete canals, is failing to deliver enough water to the crops because of important water seepage.
The main agricultural crops are fruit trees (80% apples, in addition to some grapes, olives, cherries and pears). Some winter crops are also grown (Barley and wheat). Even though the municipality renovated some of the canals ten years ago, and provided basic maintenance of these canals throughout the years, they are still in bad shape. With the growing pressure on the village’s water network as a result of the increasing number of displaced Syrian that took refuge inside the town; the demand on water is exceeding the supply, especially during summer time. During seasons where there is high demand, the water from the multiple springs that provide Mashghara with water do not suffice to irrigate all the agricultural areas. As a result, the Ministry of Energy and Water and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with funding from the Government of Germany and KfW, worked on improving the poor agricultural land irrigation of Mashghara by constructing and renovating its water canals. More than 11 km of canals were rehabilitated/constructed and numerous jobs were created.
The project greatly benefited the town as it increased irrigation water supply, thereby relieving the pressure from the high demand during the irrigation season (between April and September). It therefore assisted the 2,250 persons that depend on agriculture for a living in the town by reducing their expenditure for the purchase of water and increasing their irrigation area. In addition to that, the reconstructions of the canals contributed to the creation of jobs, especially for the Syrian refugees. The UNDP boosted the town’s development and most importantly increased the water flow inside the town, thereby maintaining the myth surrounding the origin of the town’s name.