A water-sector reconstruction project initiated by the Council for Australian-Arab Relations (CAAR) in June 2007 is being completed this week in Lebanon, improving the livelihoods of local communities in the districts of Bsharreh, Hadchit and Bekaa Kafra, from where many Lebanese-Australians originate.
The project has been implemented on CAAR’s behalf by World Vision Lebanon. Major new municipal irrigation water storage facilities have been constructed in the mountains and irrigation pipelines repaired, upgraded and extended throughout the district. Do No Harm and Environmental Impact assessments were undertaken and their findings incorporated into the project, with awareness sessions on environmental and water management issues also conducted with schools and farmers in the region and other districts.
The CAAR Chairman, Dr Glen Simpson, and Australian Ambassador Lyndall Sachs are visiting Bsharreh on 13 July to mark the completion of the project with World Vision Lebanon, the local communities and the Australian Embassy in Beirut. Dr Simpson said: “CAAR is delighted that the project has already had an impact on improving land values and agricultural incomes in the district, encouraging farmers to return to the land.”
The Australian Ambassador, Lyndall Sachs, welcomed the positive community impact of the project. “This water project will make a real difference to a number of rural communities in Lebanon’s north. It is a fine example of the strong people-to-people links that exist between Australia and Lebanon.”
As an organisation focused on sustainable community development, World Vision Lebanon is pleased with how this project will provide both short- and long-term benefits to the area, said World Vision National Director Perry Mansfield. “This project not only improved economic opportunities for hundreds of farmers, but did so in an environmentally-friendly way that it will benefit these communities for years to come.”
In mid- 2006, the Council for Australian-Arab Relations decided to sponsor a suitable project that would demonstrate in a practical way Australia’s support for the Lebanese people in the development of the infrastructure of their country, also reflecting the historical linkages between Australia and Lebanon. Additional funding was provided by the Australian Government through the Council. Funding has also been provided by World Vision Lebanon (WVL), with in-kind contributions from the beneficiary communities in the district.
Under the project a night-storage reservoir in Bsharreh (Siar) has been upgraded and water capacity expanded to 300m³ per day; a 4,000m³ hill-lake was constructed in the Baal area; a hill-lake in Bekaa Kafra was upgraded and reinforced, increasing water storage from 61,000m³ to 93,800m³; and several kilometres of pipeline have been installed at Al Kaous, Mar Semaan and Al Haddad springs respectively in Arz, Bsharreh and Hadchit, with a further 8km of irrigation pipeline throughout the region.
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