The American University of Beirut's (AUB) postgraduate scholar Rania Bou Said is proving to be an emerging leader in her community in Lebanon and implementing the skills she has learned during her first year under MEPI's Tomorrow's Leaders Graduate Program (TLG) at AUB.
In September 2020, Rania received a certificate from Waterlution, a Canadian non-profit organization that specializes in promoting water awareness and creating sustainable water management systems, for completing 30 hours of professional online training in the Water Innovation Lab in Lebanon. She also participated in the Water Innovation Lab (WIL) program, organized by Waterlution in partnership with the American University of Beirut, UNICEF, and the Swiss and Canadian Embassies.
As part of the Environmental Competition by Waterlution, Rania worked on promoting water awareness within the Agriculture Sector in Lebanon. The aim of the project was to bridge the present gap within the groundwater-energy- food nexus in the Bekaa Region. The farmers in this region over irrigate and overuse energy for groundwater pumps, with an insufficient increase in yield. Rania co-developed “ SaWa – Saving Water" with her team, a solution-oriented project designed to ensure Environmental Control on Agriculture, with a focus on efficient water use and responsible groundwater pumping. The team won the most creative pitch award and has been selected among 8 projects to advance to phase 2 of the Water Innovation Lab Lebanon. SaWa is a low-cost environmental non-profit enterprise that aims to monitor farmers' water practices while guaranteeing a competitive agriculture product. The project had a participatory approach, whereby online surveys, questionnaires, phone calls and focus group discussions were conducted with farmers, youth, markets, grocery stores and other experts. In phase 2, Rania will be developing a Pilot Project, and a Business Plan under the supervision of Waterlution and in collaboration with Berytech. She will also be using the knowledge she gained from the MIT online course “Business & Impact Planning for Social Enterprises, funded by MEPI.
Moreover, Rania was a presenter at a webinar conducted by the MENA Food Safety Associates (MEFOSA) to discuss issues related to the field of agriculture, rural development, and role of the youth, during which she engaged the farmers and spoke about their concerns and the gaps of developmental projects. Her presentation was concluded with an open discussion with farmers on the sustainability and cost of proposed projects, and the different perspectives of the importance of having a farming economic model.
AUB and MEPI-TLG are proud of Rania's achievements and excited to see where her projects will go. We look forward to more success stories from all of the MEPI-TLG scholars during these challenging times.