Embassy of Japan and UNDP Concluded the Comprehensive Agricultural Project in Qab Elias, Bekaa
With the generous support from the Government of Japan, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) completed the project ‘Social Stabilization through Comprehensive Agricultural Support for Refugee Host Communities in Lebanon’. The project was implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Water, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), the Lebanese Agriculture Research Institute (LARI), and the Municipality of Qab Elias.
The project falls under the UNDP’s strategic response to Syrian Crisis and contributes to the empowerment of vulnerable host communities. It aims at increasing social stability and improving agricultural livelihoods, a priority of UNDP and the Government of Lebanon.
A closure event took place in Qab Elias in the Bekaa on June 27, 2019. Participants in the event included H.E. Mr. Matahiro Yamaguchi, Ambassador of Japan to Lebanon, Dr. Michel Afram, President of LARI, Mr. Aly Abousabaa, Director General of ICARDA, Mr. Jihad Al Mouallem the mayor of Qab Elias and representatives from the Ministry of Energy and Water and UNDP. The closing ceremony was followed by a field visit to one of the sites to showcase the on-farm irrigation practices that were introduced by the project.
“The agricultural sector is very important for the local economy and employment both for Lebanese and displaced Syrian people. In Qab Elias, around 60% of the population and 90% of the Syrian refugees living there depend on the agricultural sector for income,” said Jihad Al Mouallem, Mayor of Qab Elias. “Water scarcity is one of the major challenges that the farmers are facing. The comprehensive agricultural support, demonstrated by this project, is most in need.”
“UNDP, working closely with the Ministry of Energy and Water, has undertaken the rehabilitation of irrigation networks while partnering up with ICARDA and LARI, to tap into their vast knowledge and experiences in farm-level water resource management, for Improving on-farm irrigation and agricultural practices. The value of this project was brought about such a cross-cutting collaboration where UNDP played a role as integrator to bring together development partners, governments, and beneficiaries,” stated Nicolas Gharib, Project Manager at UNDP. “The impacts of the project have already been seen: more agricultural lands are covered by the irrigation canals and farmers have started growing more seasons thanks to improved access to irrigation water.”
H.E. Mr. Matahiro Yamaguchi, Ambassador of Japan to Lebanon, said, “We believe this project is a success model of humanitarian and development nexus in the field of agricultural sector, which is one of the most important industries in Lebanon. The project, through the comprehensive approach, contributes to improving agricultural livelihoods in the most vulnerable communities in Lebanon, which in turn will increase the social stability. I would like to stress on the commitment of Japan in supporting Lebanon and alleviating the impacts of the Syrian crisis.”
Japan has been one of the biggest donors to UNDP. In 2016, Japan contributed a total of $383 million to UNDP, including $60 million to the agency’s core programme fund. The Japan-UNDP partnership prioritises stabilisation and conflict prevention in the Middle East and supports activities at the intersection of humanitarian and development work.
In Lebanon, the Government of Japan has contributed over US$ 10 million[NH1] in support of Lebanese host communities through its partnership with UNDP since 2014. This support has enabled the most vulnerable host communities to better respond to the influx of Syrian displaced populations, while strengthening local service delivery and capacities to manage tensions in partnership with local municipalities and government institutions.