The Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) in FAFS was selected by the World Food Program (WFP) to sustainably improve the skills, capacities and livelihood opportunities of vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian refugees in Northeast Baalbeck and West Bekaa. ESDU was shortlisted after submitting an expression of interest and a concept note to WFP during summer 2018. At a later stage, a full proposal was submitted and accepted by WFP.
The selection of ESDU was based on its expertise in rural development and livelihoods support within the scope of WFP. ESDU has been involved in livelihoods promotion in the Bekaa region for 15 years specifically Northern Bekaa in Arsal region where it led the first community development project and had resulted in the establishment of women cooperatives for food processing as well as the first shepherd cooperatives in the region.
The “Climate-Smart Livelihoods Initiatives and Market Access Tailoring (CLIMAT)” is a one-year project (starting October 1st) that falls under WFP Lebanon Country Strategic Plan 2018-2020 and WFP Program “Enhancing the livelihoods of Syrian Refugees and vulnerable Lebanese host communities through Food for Training (FFT)”. The project activities were initiated in October with the recruitment of ESDU and its partner CWB teams. This was followed by the outreach process i.e contacting the municipalities in the project areas and potential participants from Lebanese and Syrian refugees’ communities, as well as local NGOs and stakeholders. The first training on rug production started already in Arsal on Tuesday 11th of December. Other training will follow in January 2019 after establishing the demo-plots. A launching event of the project is organized on December 19th by ESDU at FAFS. The event will also be an opportunity to activate the Rural Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Forum (REEF).
ESDU has also been recently involved in different livelihood projects involving Lebanese and Syrian refugees in West Bekaa and North Lebanon as well as in Beirut. ESDU’s partner Cooperation Without Borders (CWB) is also well connected with local communities and have developed partnerships with local actors to increase ownership and responsiveness.
The project will be led by ESDU team and implemented in partnership with Cooperation without Borders (CWB) in the West Bekaa and North East Baalbeck. It targets 700 beneficiaries from the vulnerable Lebanese community and Syrian refugees. ESDU team will be directly involved in the project implementation. Additionally, the project offers the students and professors at the faculty an opportunity to conduct research studies through facilitating access to the field and data collection.
ESDU and CWB will build capacities of women, youth and farmers on sustainable agricultural practices and climate smart food processing. They will also offer material support, and create market linkages. CLIMAT project, with all its suggested activities and components, will introduce climate-smart techniques in agriculture and food processing. It will build the capacity of the local communities and the Syrian refugees on best practices in food production, and will offer local producers access to market. One of the main outcomes of the project is the development of a quality control manual for climate-smart products; this will be at the basis of the development of a quality control system for small-scale producers. CLIMAT will allow students, professors and staff members to invest their skills and expertise in serving the rural communities and build on the outcomes of this project to attract more funds
All in all, the project will hopefully be a show-case for best agricultural practices, sustainability of development projects in the region, and the cohesion between the different communities.