On March 6, 2016, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI), celebrated International Women’s Day by organizing an environmental and social day in Bkessine village, South Lebanon. Under the auspices of the Municipality of Bkessine, the event brought together various USAID projects, namely the Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development (LIVCD) project and the University Scholarship Program (USP). The event intends to engage women and youth in the preservation of the environment to protect it from rising threats and to intensify reforestation efforts in order to expand Lebanon’s green cover.
The day was inaugurated with welcome notes by Mr. Habib Fares, Head of the Municipality of Bkessine, and Mrs. Carolyn Bryan, USAID’s Mission Director in Lebanon. More than 200 people including Bkessine families and youth, scouts, and activists along with civil society representatives, NGOs and USAID’s USP students from various Lebanese regions gathered to take part in this day. The celebration included environmental awareness activities and an exhibition for various women cooperatives that came from different regions of Lebanon to promote their products. The event also included planting 500 native tree seedlings on-site, hiking on trails to raise awareness about climate change and wildfire prevention, and sowing of seedlings at the Cooperative of Native Tree Producers of Lebanon to promote the best practices for tree production.
Through this public activity, LRI project disseminated best environmental practices and highlighted the social, economic and environmental impacts of participatory reforestation activities, while focusing on the leading role of women in the economic, social and educational arenas of the Lebanese society. To date, LRI has introduced new techniques for nine local tree nurseries to produce better quality seedlings at lower cost, planted around 587,000 trees on 832 hectares in more than 37 sites, and created a total of 1200 seasonal jobs throughout Lebanon since it started in 2010.