ESDU serves as a regional interdisciplinary research center, provides training, services and consultancies and hosts several large community-development projects. These projects respond to special needs or opportunities that fall outside the conventional research frameworks of individual disciplines.
Regional Networking: KariaNet
KariaNet – Knowledge Access for Rural Inter-connected Areas Network - (www.karianet.org), is a regional network for the management and sharing of knowledge, information and experience in agriculture and rural development, covering 10 countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen.
KariaNet is a multi-stakeholder partnership between IFAD ( www.ifad.org), IDRC (www.idrc.ca), and IFAD-financed projects in the NENA region (Near East and North Africa). Activities are coordinated across the networks and throughout the MENA region through a small, regionally based, secretariat.
The Purpose of this project is: 1) To support an existing community kitchen in Khiara, West Bekaa lead by Syrian refugees and Lebanese women and providing food assistance to vulnerable families and try to link it to small farmers in the area. 2) To support the start-up of a community kitchen in Old Saida where Syrian & Palestinian refugees and Lebanese women would cook jointly to provide food assistance to vulnerable families. For more info: Community Kitchens.pdf.
Food Security and Economic Resilience
Under the project “Reducing Vulnerability of Syrian Refugees and Lebanese in Lebanon” in collaboration with the Near East Foundation, ESDU will build the skills of around 170 Syrian refugees and Lebanese to support the development of home-based productive activities or small businesses related to agricultural productive activities and food processing. The areas of intervention are spread between (1) Minie and Berqayel (North Governorate); and (2) Taanayel (Bekaa Governorate). For more info: Food Security and Economic Resilience.pdf
The Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU), in collaboration with the Food Heritage Foundation and the Shouf Cedar Biosphere Reserve established “darb el karam”, a food tourism trail connecting 9 villages in West Bekaa and Higher Shouf. This project, funded by USAID in the framework of Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development project, is the first project of its kind in Lebanon and the region. For more info: darb el karam.pdf
The heritage trail is divided into five sections: the Goat Trail, the Wild Edible Plants Trail, the Tomato Trail, the Olive Trail, and the Harvest Trail.