Dutch launch program to bolster Lebanese water and agriculture sectors

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Netherlands, Ambassador Han Maurits Schaapveld, and Suzy Hoayek, representing the Ministry of Energy and Water, launched the Dutch program “Strengthening the Lebanese Water and Agriculture Sector”.

The program is part of a 86-million-Euro aid package, made available by the Netherlands government last year in order to help Lebanon cope with the impact of the refugee crisis and its heavy toll on local infrastructure.

“The program will support Lebanon with advanced Dutch expertise in water and agriculture. It will be implemented by Waternet, the public water company for the City of Amsterdam and surroundings, a statement by the Dutch Embassy explained.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Schaapveld stressed the importance of Dutch-Lebanese cooperation in the Water sector: “The Netherlands has around 2,000 companies active in the field of water. And we are ready to share this knowledge and expertise with Lebanon.”

Adding, “Not only government to government but also business to business and academia. Some of our most knowledgeable companies and institutions like World Waternet, Acacia Water and Wageningen University are going to do just that with the relevant Lebanese actors, in order secure access to water for all in Lebanon.”

In her speech, ministry representative Hoayek welcomed the assistance of the Netherlands in helping Lebanon through the implementation of this program.

Steven van Rossum, Director of World Waternet, stated that the Water Operator Partnership between Bekaa Water Establishment and Waternet will give the Water Establishment direct access to the professional resources and practical experience of Waternet for an initial duration of two years and with a long term perspective.

The five components of the program are:
– Water Operator Partnership (WOP) between the Bekaa Water Establishment and Waternet. A long term partnership between two water companies to improve the performance of the Bekaa Water Establishment and to prepare BWE to take on new tasks in waste water treatment.
– Support to the Litani River Authority in water quality monitoring and algae control through the supply of water quality monitoring and algae control stations for Lake Qaraoun.
– Pilot artificial recharge projects demonstrating the feasibility of small scale artificial recharge to groundwater. This will lead to an increase of available fresh water resources.
– Innovations in irrigation practices by smallholder farmers through affordable soil sensor technology and advisory services, in co-operation with Green Plan and the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute.
– Adaptable greenhouses: using advanced Dutch greenhouses techniques for the developments of demonstration greenhouses that are affordable and adapted to local conditions. Improved greenhouses lead to an increase in crop production and water efficiency.

In addition, an Expert Facility has been created to mobilize Dutch water and agriculture expertise at short notice. This facility is open to Lebanese authorities and international institutions that would like to strengthen the impact of their activities by using expertise from the Netherlands.

Waternet will implement the two-year program in co-operation with Wageningen University & Research – Netherlands foremost agricultural university, Acacia Water and in close cooperation with local partners: the Bekaa Water Establishment, the Litani River Authority, Green Plan, the Lebanese Agriculture Research Institute, the Ministry of Energy and Water and other Lebanese institutions.
Source: An-Nahar