Wageningen University & Research and its Lebanese and Dutch partners to use their knowledge of water and agriculture to support the inhabitants of the Bekaa Valley.
Lebanon has taken in more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Meanwhile, the Bekaa Valley, to the east of Lebanon, is experiencing a shortage of drinking water and sanitary facilities. Local agriculture is also suffering from drought conditions. In these challenging circumstances, however, it is of crucial importance that the region be able to achieve good harvests, provide employment and grow its economy.
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.
The predominant role of Wageningen University & Research in this project is to provide its knowledge and experience of agriculture and food production. ‘Agricultural productivity must be increased,’ says Herco Jansen, water expert at Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra). ‘In order to use the little water available as best as possible, there must be conscious efforts to improve efficiency.’ In light of this, the partners will look to improve irrigation practices on farms.
The project will also see the introduction of new greenhouses that give farmers much greater control over cultivation conditions. Jansen explains, ‘These are state-of-the-art greenhouses. Alongside being totally attuned to the local conditions and climate, their design means they are easy to use for entrepreneurs.’
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. The aim of this programme is to improve the prospects of both the refugees and their host communities in the region,’
Bram de Vos, director of Wageningen Environmental Research, says, ‘Humanitarian crises of this scale jeopardise people's quality of life. This is why we are working here with our international partners to improve this.’