World Waternet, Acacia Water and Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra) are working together to support Lebanon using Dutch water and agricultural expertise. This project is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Syrian crisis has had serious consequences for Lebanon. More than 1.5 million refugees have found refuge in the country. This influx of people has put the availability of drinking water and sanitary facilities under increased pressure. Moreover, water for agricultural use is scarce at a time when it is more important than ever before that harvests are successful, that people have access to work and that the economy continues to grow.
‘If we examine the data, Lebanon actually has a positive water balance,’ states Arjen de Vries, director of Acacia Water. ‘It is only in certain areas that the over-exploitation of water occurs. There is currently insufficient practical water management to balance shortages and excesses. Together with our partners we want to gain insight into the dynamics of this water system. This data will form the basis for the formulation of new measures that will enable the optimal use of water.’
The Netherlands has unique expertise in this field that can be used to support water companies in the Bekaa Valley. The Bekaa Valley, which is located next to the Syrian border, is one of the less developed regions in Lebanon. The successful implementation of the project will contribute to developments in the Bekaa Valley and will improve the quality of life for Lebanese citizens and refugees alike.
Quality of Life
‘Humanitarian crises of this scale jeopardise people's quality of life,’ explains Bram de Vos, director of Wageningen Environmental Research. ‘Together with our partner across the world, we try to improve this situation by providing more and cleaner water, green areas, improved health and liveability and healthy food.’
Improved water quality
The two-year project will be launched in February 2017, with the aim of improving the provision of drinking water, purifying waste water, increasing water availability and boosting farmers’ production by encouraging better, more economical water use. This is done in collaboration with the Bekaa Water Establishment, a company responsible for drinking water and waste water in the Bekaa Valley. Together with the Litani River Authority, work is being done to improve the water quality of the Litani River. Greenhouses are being built together with local partners. Through this, the project aims to improve living conditions for all the inhabitants of the Bekaa Valley and to create new opportunities for trade, investment and contracts for Dutch companies. The implementation of the project will start after the conclusion of an investigation by the Dutch Risk Reduction team that gives advice around the world on water-related issues.
Making more sustainable investments
‘There is a great deal of scope for investments in water installations and infrastructure in Lebanon,’ say Kenneth Comvalius and Steven van Rossum, directors of World Waternet. ‘Making these investments more sustainable requires strengthening the organisations that have to manage these investments. Through water management knowledge transfer and long-term collaborations with Dutch partners and companies responsible for water in the Bekaa Valley, World Waternet wants to make a contribution to sustainability.
Package of support
The project is part of a larger support programme by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the reception of Syrian refugees in Lebanon as well as the host communities concerned. In addition to activities related to water, the Ministry also supports projects for the improvement of the agricultural sector and the promotion of work opportunities. The aim of this programme is to improve the prospects of both the refugees and their host communities in the region.