Based on the clusters and the strategies developed through the SEARCH project processes in Lebanon, several actions dealing with the different aspects were suggested and prioritized upon specific objective criteria. Projects proposed for the pilot action phase of the SEARCH project were agreed upon and consolidated by the national and local stakeholders based on participatory approaches (workshops, focus groups…). The suggested projects also reflect the results of the vulnerability assessment to increase resilience of local target groups in the face of climate change.
The SEARCH project aimed to ground the strategies defined in each country through the design and development of innovative examples (pilot projects) in selected areas at the district and community level in the study area.
In this context, the following projects were given the highest priority for implementation in the Upper Akkar region in order to increase resilience of the social and ecological systems in face of climate change:
1. Rehabilitation of old water tanks and installation and/or maintenance of water networks for irrigation in the Aydamoun village (Figures 1 and 2 show the before and after stages of the old water tank in Rwaiymeh-Upper Akkar).
2. Enhance livelihoods of local communities through the empowerment of local women grazers in Aydamoun
3. Promote alternative income generating activities to upgrade livelihoods in Aydamoun through the provision of beehives to local men
4. Establish a Hima visitor center for Upper Akkar Hima as a hub for awareness and ecotourism
5. Develop a public garden in Andaket as a tool for forests conservation and community development
Furthermore, three additional projects were implemented throughout the project period by SPNL and Mada, these projects include:
1. Educational Booklet along with awareness material implemented by SPNL:
After the pilot projects were successfully implemented in the study area, the local community were perceived to possess limited knowledge and awareness about water-use, water conservation, forestry and climate change. The misuse of natural resources (including water and forest) was highlighted as the major problem.
All this has been identified in consolidation between the local and national committees, where all stressed the need to raise awareness of the local community in relation to climate change, water and other environmental issues.
In order to fill this knowledge gap, another pilot project was suggested on the spot in the frame of the SEARCH project which resulted in the development of an educational program for Hima Upper Akkar as well as an educational booklet. The program aided to provide awareness, education and training on climate change water related issues, and forest conservation through conducting training workshops, outdoor activities, presentations, and much more. The educational program focused on the main environmental features present in Hima Upper Akkar. The program targeted the local community who directly affect the management of the water resources and forest including women, children, and farmers. The objective was to raise their awareness on sustainable water management practices (quality and quantity), including negative anthropogenic effects, and to improve their knowledge on climate change and its correlation with their natural environment (water and forest) and their livelihoods. The developed program is expected to complement the work implemented in the previous pilot projects and provide an added value to the success of the SEARCH project.
The educational program was initiated through a training workshop that built on what has already been done through the pilot projects in the area thus building the capacities of the locals for the future, extending beyond the SEARCH project.
The training workshop took place in the Upper Akkar area and targeted the local community including women, children (8-12 years) and farmers in the three study villages of Qobayat, Andaket and Aydamoun-Karmchbat
This additional pilot project was implemented in the Upper Akkar watershed (the SEARCH educational booklet) aiming at increasing knowledge and raising awareness on water related issues, climate change and forest conservation in the Upper Akkar watershed. The development of this educational booklet was of great importance as it targeted the local community including women, children and farmers who were percieved as the most sensitive and influential groups. These users acquired the knowledge, skills and tools needed to address water issues, climate change impacts and forest related issues. Women, being the house keepers, learned to manage and conserve water at the household level, adapt to climate change and learned best practices for forest conservation and agricultural management. Children, being the young generation and future leaders learned how to appreciate their natural environment and gain the needed skills to conserve water, as well as they were taught to adapt to and mitigate climate change impacts and guide in forest management and conservation. Farmers, being the food producers, understood the linkage between climate change and their livelihoods (including agricultural diseases linked to temperature variations) and learned how to adapt to climate change stresses, through using sustainable agricultural practices, including types of crops, water management approaches and technologies. This booklet could also be used as a guide for teachers who will learn the approaches used and apply them with their students. The implemented activities focused on the main learning outcomes. This interactive way of teaching was the core of the booklet and the SNOW program, which was adapted to fit all members of the local community including children, women, and farmers. This highlights the flexibility of the program where no age limit, gender or any other limiting factor could interfere with the learning process. Figure 3 is the cover of the educational booklet prepared by SPNL in the frame of the SEARCH project which contains awareness material on water, forests and climate change.
2. « I love my forest » initiative - Michmich, Akkar implemented by Mada:
Aiming to fulfil the main objectives of the SEARCH project, namely:
- Raising awareness on environmental priorities and the importance of the sustainable management of natural resources;
- Involving children and youth and building their capacity on sustainable development;
- Enhancing knowledge and skills on climate information and new adaptive strategies;
Mada has sought funds from the CCFD -Terre Solidaire to implement the « I love my forest » initiative in 2013. This project aims at raising awareness of students of Michmich public school on the importance of ecotourism in the conservation of the environment and natural resources.
The main objective of this activity is to acquaint and enforce the relationship between the students and their natural environment through learning-by-doing, with a special emphasis on responsible tourism.
Several awareness sessions, games, as well as with 3 field visits targeting the importance of conserving and sustaining forests, water and soil resources were performed with 70 kids and their teachers. During site visits, kids got to explore through several environmental games the wonders of the Akkari forests and their importance in sheltering wildlife, retaining water, purifying the air and providing a wide range of vital products and services. Figures 4 and 5 were taken during the awareness sessions in Michmich-Akkar.
3. Rehabilitation of a water spring in Bazbina implemented by Mada:
Aiming to fulfil the main objectives of the SEARCH project, namely:
- Empowering women while activating their role in decision-making processes;
- Maintaining water infrastructure in order to sustain water availability and avoid the water shortage that has been increasingly perceived in the last couple of years as a result of climatic variations;
- Promoting participatory planning in designing and implementing sustainable initiatives;
- Building resilience of local communities in the face of climate change through raising their awareness on the importance of conserving and sustainably managing water resources;
Mada has sought funds from the Embassy of Ireland in Cairo to rehabilitate one of the main water springs of the Bazbina village in the frame of a project titled “Encouraging women participation in local development and public debate in the rural areas of Akkar (North Lebanon)”.
This spring is considered as one of the main water sources in Wadi Al-Deir (Bazbina), providing potable water for a large number of families in the area.
The conception and design of this micro-project was based on an active participatory planning, where women met on several occasions during workshops, sessions and coordination meetings with the municipality and the active members of the local community to plan the implementation of the project. The rehabilitation consisted in creating a rest area; organizing the access to the spring with stone stairs; and building small stone walls. The women ensured the work follow-up through weekly meetings with the contractor’s representatives as well as municipality members. The rehabilitation was achieved in September 2011.
Not only the rehabilitation of this water spring contributed in attracting a wide number of people from the village and satisfying the big demand on potable water, it also helped in beautifying the village entrance of Wadi Al-Deir near the old monastery.