AFDC’s conservation work is focused on improving the livelihoods of local communities. Rural development has become a natural extension of the organization’s work.
In Lebanon, the lack of educational and economic opportunities in rural areas has driven most young members of the work force to seek these opportunities in urban areas or abroad.
As a result, AFDC’s development work in rural areas has a focus of creating such opportunities in villages mainly by developing sustainable income-generating projects.
The program objectives are:
Within this program, AFDC implemented several projects in different Lebanese rural areas, especially those facing several socio economic and environmental challenges, among which are low job opportunities, poverty, migration and fragile ecosystems… These projects targeted rural communities in general, and economically marginalized social groups such as rural women and farmers in particular.
Lebanon’s remote areas, including forests, woodlands, and other wild lands are known for their high economic values besides their environmental ones. Most of these lands are famous for abundance of wild crop trees and medicinal and aromatic herbs with high commercial benefits. It is worth mentioning also the ecotourism significance of such areas especially ones known for their dense forests, woodlands, and considerable natural resources.
As such, AFDC focused its work on involving marginalized social groups in these areas in the economic cycle through finding proper links between them and their surroundings, links that reflect nature values on economy and society and vice-versa.
Some of AFDC’s ongoing and implemented projects in the field of rural development are:
Support and develop the local production in the Higher Matn area (2011-2013)
This project aims at improving the livelihoods of people in the communities of the Higher Matn through supporting and developing rural production of natural food products. The project comprises several activities such as establishing a workshop in Qernayel village for processing and packaging rural products such as jams, pickles, vinegars, and herbs.
Other activities consist of capacity building workshops for women on subjects such as food safety, quality control, pricing, production techniques, and marketing. Around 20 women from 7 villages will directly benefit from this project.
“Supporting rural development initiatives for a proper ecosystem” (2008-2011)
Funded by the WWF, this project aimed at developing a sound strategy for conserving forests and reducing forest deterioration especially caused by forest and wild fires. The project also supported local communities in the targeted areas of Aley and Matn to improve their livelihoods and increase their income. The strategy included forest restoration, production and sales of non timber forest products, and other programs related to ecotourism and environmental awareness.
“Supporting the local community through agriculture and forest products and developing the rural production sector in Aiha-Kfarkouk cluster” (2007)
This project’s main objective was to help farmers and land owners replant their abandoned lands with crop trees such as olives and stone pine, in addition to building local women’s capacities for a better rural production. Activities also included awareness campaigns in both villages highlighting sustainable investment of natural resources, with focus on targeted region as destinations for eco and rural tourism. (Funded by CDR).
“Supporting the local community, increasing green cover through agriculture, and developing agriculture and rural development sectors in the villages of Hasbaya and Wady Al Taim valley” (2007).
AFDC intended through this project to increase green areas in the region through supporting farmers and land owners. This support included plantation of crop trees of high economic values such as olives and stone pine. Through this project, AFDC established a tree nursery with an annual production capacity of 50,000 seedlings (30,000 olive seedlings and 20,000 stone pine seedlings).
“The Healthy Kitchens project”
Funded by the Canadian Fund for Social Development (CFSD) represented by Oxfam- Quebec, the project aimed at empowering women through social and economic development in Borj el Barajneh refugee camp and Khouiekh village – Hermel.
The project succeeded in establishing and equipping two kitchens in the target communities as well as train women from both areas on good manufacturing practices, team work, marketing and sales.
“Wild Plants Center”
AFDC set up a center to dry, package and sell aromatic and medicinal plants by locals in Rmeish village (South Lebanon) as well as build the capacities of volunteers to serve rural development