Lebanon: waterscape challenges hide future opportunities

Youth conference addresses the water problems faced by Lebanon by examining the challenges, identifying the solutions, reviewing the success stories and featuring the contributors in the field.

beirut lebanon port waterscape
Lebanon’s waterscape is overstretched in response to decades of under-investment policies, withering infrastructure, local population growth, and the drastic influx of displaced Syrians. © ByTheEast

What is the future of Lebanon’s waterscape? This was the question which formed the central discussion theme in the youth conference which was organised by the Issam Fares Institute (IFI) for Public Policy International Affairs of AUB in a collaborative venture with the WAAD Consortium (Water Access and Development) which is funded by the EU-MADAD.

The Lebanon waterscape discussion took place in Beirut earlier this month, prior to the World Water Day which was observed on March 22, 2019. The above mentioned youth conference was titled “Water in Lebanon: Turning Current Challenges into Future Opportunities”. The meet venue was at the IFI facilities which received a live streaming within the campuses of Beirut Arab University (located in the Bekaa Valley) as well as Phoenicia University (South-Lebanon).

This way, the discussion on the country’s waterscape turned into a national event for addressing the water accessibility on a collective forum would provide a “collective solution” to the “collective problem”.

Experts from the industry met with the participants from the AUB, BAU, PU and Balamand Universities, whereby encouraging the youth to take up water oriented “studies and careers” which would contribute towards the betterment of future waterscape and the “environmental sector” in Lebanon. During the conference, “energy and water policy” came under focus, while mane public and private contributors in the water management field were featured including Mr. Michele Pierpaoli – Attache’ for Water and Waste Water Affairs from the European Union Delegation to Lebanon.

At the final leg, the panel dealt with multiple successful venture stories like “Clean2o and Talaya”, as they concentrated on “fruitful initiatives and growth opportunities” within the country as well as abroad. Furthermore, an assessment of the major challenges faced in Lebanon’s waterscape was carried out besides exploring “innovative solutions”, examining “future opportunities” and identifying “new job opportunities”. Researches, policymakers, international investors, executives and financial institutes gathered in a common platform to share their knowledge and promote “open discussion”.

The World Water Day (March 22) is celebrated to highlight the “importance of fresh water conservation” besides managing it in a sustainable manner. Titled as “Leaving no one behind”, the current edition is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal #6 for ensuring the “availability and sustainability of water and sanitation to all”. Waterscape is important for any country be it in job creation, as a support to developing economy or promoting human and social growth. It affects everyone of us.

The EU Regional Trust Fund is supporting the Lebanese Water and Sanitation and Hygiene in “Response to the Syrian Crisis ‘MADAD’” and provided an USD8-million fund to WAAD for improving water and wastewater services across Lebanon. The WAAD Consortium comprises of ACTED, Action Against Hunger and INTERSOS, the three NGOs with a “significant experience in implementing WASH interventions in Lebanon”.

Lebanon’s waterscape is overstretched in response to “decades of under-investment policies, withering infrastructure, local population growth, and the drastic influx of displaced Syrians” contributing to thirty percent rise in the number of individuals in need of safe water accessibility.

The aim of EU Regional Trust Fund MADAD’s financial support is to ensure “humanitarian assistance”, sustain development as well as foster “social cohesion”; as a result, the fund has been provided to alleviate Lebanon’s waterscape for “both local and displaced populations” as a basic human need. Let’s wait to see if this wishful thinking will be implemented in the field.

To be continued, then.