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How a small Lebanese canal can revive everything around it
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How a small Lebanese canal can revive everything around it

WFP’s Food for Assets projects across Lebanon give a boost to people and entire communities in the short and long terms.

A 1,500 metre irrigation canal will see life over the next three weeks. The tiny waterway will channel water from a natural spring down a hill in Lebanon’s sleepy Ain village. It will pass through dozens of small orchards that grow peaches, walnuts, apricots and plums.

This is one of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) projects that aim to improve people’s livelihoods in Lebanon. With local contexts in mind, these projects designed to benefit entire communities in the long term with improved and durable agricultural infrastructure. These projects also build on recently relaxed employment regulations for refugees as they can seek short-term opportunities as skilled workers in sleepy Ain, or beyond.

The national non-governmental Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training (LOST) is training 65 participants in and around Ain — half are Lebanese and half are Syrian — on how to plan and implement water construction projects such as this one. Welding steel piping, dredging, excavating, mixing concrete are just some of the skills that participants learn through practicing them every day over two months. Once the project is completed, they are in a better position to find formal work in the local market, having gained relevant experience.

Participants get a WFP cash transfer in return for their work. Each month their e-cards are topped up and they can use them to buy food in over 500 shops in Lebanon to buy food.

Samer, 37, is one of them. He was born and raised in Ain village.

“People here are strong,” he says. He also thinks that despite their resourcefulness and resilience, they are unable to mass produce the fruits that it has the potential to. “They get by though,” he says.

Samer has three children and wants them to have more opportunities than him. “The project helps everyone and will make Ain a better place too,” he says.

He has made new friends on the project. They take it in turns to supply the tea and biscuits for breaks between work under the midday sun. “Syrian, Lebanese, we are brothers — we work well together. We are doing this for the same goals.”

WFP’s livelihoods projects throughout Lebanon are funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Germany. WFP then works closely with LOST in the north-east to design the projects in close collaboration with local municipalities.