The Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) at the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS) at AUB launched the Climate-Smart Livelihoods Initiatives and Market Access Tailoring (CLIMAT) project to improve the skills, capacities, and livelihood opportunities of vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian refugees in Northeast Baalbeck and West Beqaa.
CLIMAT is a one-year project implemented by ESDU in partnership with Cooperation Without Borders (CWB) and funded by the German Cooperation under the World Food Program's (WFP) “Enhancing the livelihoods of Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese host communities through Food for Training (FFT)." CLIMAT aims at building the capacities of women, youth, and farmers (individuals and agriculture cooperatives) on sustainable agricultural practices and climate-smart food processing. Beneficiaries are offered material support, and market linkages are created. CLIMAT tackles three value chains: small ruminant production (wool and carpet production, dairy processing, and herd/pasture management), alternative and climate-smart agricultural crop production, and agro-food processing.
A one-day workshop was held at AUB on December 19, 2018 with AUB President Fadlo Khuri, representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and WFP, as well as the heads and representatives of the following municipalities: Arsal, Labwe, Al Ain, Fakeha, Ras Baalbek, Al Qaa, Saghbine, Jeb Jenine, Kamed el Loz, Fneidik, Baawerta, and Batloun. Many academics and non-profit organization representatives also attended the workshop. Throughout the day, attendees and speakers discussed the agricultural challenges in Lebanon, especially in Northeast Baalbeck and West Beqaa where CLIMAT is implemented. They also worked on strategic road maps to provide solutions that enhance the agricultural situation in rural areas of Lebanon.
The workshop included the activation of the subnetworks of the Rural Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Forum (REEF). REEF gathers all stakeholders involved in rural development and aims at first developing coordinated national strategies, mapping and stocktaking, and finally networking for synergy and joint projects. REEF includes four subnetworks: CLIMAT REEF aiming to sustainably improve the skills and capacities of local youth, women, and farmers on climate-smart practices; Food REEF promoting nutrition and food security by improving access to knowledge and healthy food as well as rural income-generating activities; Eco REEF focusing on the nascent organic agriculture sector in Lebanon to offer communities reliable organic food and encourage farmers to adopt organic agricultural practices; and Clean REEF promoting waste management strategies and focusing on composting, sorting, and recycling.
The workshop encompassed participatory sessions through which the attendees (municipalities, local organizations, environmental agencies, and scholars) discussed the main challenges faced by the respective fields of REEF subnetworks and identified the priorities of each subnetwork.
In response to a ll environmental, economic, and social challenges that the rural areas in Lebanon are facing, the CLIMAT project aims at building the capacities of the communities living in these areas and supporting their livelihood as part of the AUB commitment to develop and enhance local communities.