Cablegate: Lebanon's Approach to the Environment And
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 AMMAN 003330
STATE PASS USAID
USDA FOR FOREST SERVICE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAID TBIO KGLB LE SY NTDB
SUBJECT: Lebanon's Approach to the Environment and
Development: Using NGOs, Cost-Sharing
1. The message was prepared by the Amman ESTH office,
and cleared by Embassy Beirut.
2. Summary: With Arab and international funding, Lebanon
is making innovative use of NGOs and cost-sharing plans
to manage natural resources, water, forests, health and
development. USAID makes important contributions in all
these areas. End summary.
3. Amman-based Environment, Science, Technology and
Health (ESTH) Hub FSN visited Lebanon March 21-24 for an
overview of environment, development, and health issues.
Ministry of Environment
4. ESTH FSN met with Dr. Berj Hatdjian, Director General
at the Ministry of Environment, and Ms. Nancy Khoury, the
Acting Head of the Division of Public Relations and
External Affairs on March 24. The MOE was established in
1993 and has a USD 3 million budget. The MOE worked with
ECODIT Lebanon to produce the 2001 State of Environment
Report. It is available on the web at
http://www.moe.gov.lb/Reports/SOER2001.htm. The report
describes the state of Lebanon's water, air,
biodiversity, and land, and links them to population,
agriculture, industry, construction, transport, tourism,
recreation, and energy. The report paints a bleak
picture, calling water conservation "dismal," especially
in view of the fact that agriculture consumes 70% of
Lebanon's water but produced only about 12% of its GDP.
It also identified a number of regulatory and enforcement
shortfalls, and stressed the need for more consideration
of environmental impacts at the planning stage.
Seeking to Develop a Water Resource Plan
5. Water is becoming a factor limiting Lebanon's
development, and will become more precious as the
population grows. Since agriculture consumes 60 to 70
percent of Lebanon's water supply, Lebanon needs to
address the efficiency of irrigation.
6. The General Directorate of Hydraulic Resources has
adopted a 10-year plan, including the following specific
-- increasing drinking and irrigation water supply in the
-- collecting and treating more wastewater;
-- reducing the estimated 50 percent loss of water in
-- shifting the cost of providing water supply and
wastewater treatment from the state to consumers; and
-- increasing the effectiveness of water institutions.
Development and Sharing Plans for Surface Water
7. Management of surface water is crucial to Lebanon's
overall water strategy. Dr. Salim Catafago, Chairman of
Litani River Authority (LRA) and a member of the Lebanese-
Syrian Joint Water Committee, told ESTH FSN on March 21
that Lebanon has three major rivers: the Litani, which
flows only within Lebanon; and two rivers shared with
Syria, the Orontes and the Nahr El-Kabir rivers.
8. The Litani is the most important river in Lebanon,
with an annual maximum flow of about 700 million cubic
meters. Dr. Catafago described a two-phase, USD 440-500
million project for the Litani River. The first phase
will build main conveyors, canals, pipes and pumping
stations and the second phase will develop irrigation
canals. The cost for phase one is estimated at USD 220
million, of which USD 165 million was given as a low-
interest loan from the Kuwaiti Fund and the Arab Fund.
The Lebanese government will supply the rest of the
financing. Catafago does not expect the GOL to contract
Phase I before the end of the year, and noted that it
will take two years to complete the work. Catafago is
trying to secure additional funding from the Kuwaiti and
Arab Funds for Phase II.
9. The Orontes River starts north of Baalbeck and flows
through Syria before entering Iskenderun and emptying
into the Mediterranean Sea. Its annual flow is more than
400 million cubic meters (MCM.) In 2002, the Syrian-
Lebanese Higher Council approved a dam on the Orontes
River under an agreement that allocates an average of 80
MCM to Lebanon.
10. The Nahr El Kabir River also flows from Lebanon into
Syria. It is Lebanon's northern border with Syria. Its
mean yearly incoming flow is around 150 MCM. Syria and
Lebanon have agreed on sharing the Nahr El Kabir, with 60
percent of its annual flow going to Syria and 40 percent
USAID Using Cost-Sharing on Wastewater Treatment Sites
11. USAID is working with the GOL on wastewater
treatment, another important aspect of Lebanon's overall
water management plan. ESTH FSN and AID FSN toured USAID-
funded wastewater treatment plants in some of the Chouf
villages on March 23. One USAID-funded treatment plant
in the Maaser el Chouf village costs USD 398,000, of
which USD 278,000 comes from USAID and USD 120,000 from
the Municipality of Maaser El-Chouf and the Union of
Higher Chouf Municipalities. A second USAID-funded
wastewater treatment plant at Mukhtara and Butmeh
villages costs USD 498,000, of which USD 331,000 is
funded by USAID and USD 167,000 is funded by the
municipalities of Mukhtara and Butmeh and the Union of
Higher Chouf Municipalities.
12. Mr. Fadi Abu Ali told ESTH FSN at their March 23
meeting that the Association for Forest Development and
Conservation (AFDC) was established in 1993 to increase
forest cover, manage natural resources, promote eco-
tourism, raise awareness, especially among local
community members, and build capacity for better
environmental management. AFDC works with the Jordanian
Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) to
build capacity in AFDC's staff.
13. One aspect of AFDC's work is a forest fire-fighting
program to develop a national-level mechanism to prevent
and fight forest fires through involving the local
community. AFDC is recruiting volunteers from local
communities who are trained to combat forest fires in the
most important conservation areas.
GLOBE Program - 22 Schools, Supported by Cisco Systems
14. AFDC also manages the GLOBE program. Lebanon has
participated in the Global Learning and Observation to
Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program since a 1998
agreement between the Ministry of Environment and Embassy
Beirut. GLOBE in Lebanon is currently supported by Cisco
Systems and AMIDEAST. Twenty-two private and public
schools from around Lebanon participate in GLOBE. Mr.
Abu Ali from AFDC mentioned that GLOBE faces financial
difficulties and that, since in many instances students
pay for their training trips, GLOBE is less accessible to
students of moderate means.
Al-Chouf Cedar Nature Reserve
15. In an interesting NGO project, the Al-Shouf Cedars
Nature Reserve is managed by the Al-Shouf Cedars Society,
an NGO that conceived the idea of the reserve, created
it, and currently manages it in cooperation with the
Ministry of Environment. ESTH FSN visited the reserve on
March 23. The objectives of the Society are natural and
cultural conservation, research and monitoring, rural
development, eco-tourism, environmental awareness, and
capacity building. As an important contribution to the
Society's outreach efforts, USAID gave the Society USD
28,000 to publish a booklet and a CD on the biodiversity
of the reserve.
World Health Organization Using Cost-Sharing Funds
16. On Thursday, March 24, Econoff and ESTH FSN met Dr.
Talal Abbas, World Health Organization (WHO) Accident and
Injury Prevention Program Coordinator. Dr. Talal said
the WHO Office in Lebanon provides direct technical,
administrative, and financial support to various joint
projects between the WHO, the Ministry of Health (MOH)
and programs established by the MOH with cost-sharing
trust funds. Such programs aim at improving the health
of the Lebanese people and strengthen the management and
system of the health sector.
17. The Accident and Injury Prevention Program started
in late 1999 as a joint effort between the Ministry of
Health and WHO and aims at decreasing accidents and
preventing injuries. In 2002, WHO and MOH expanded the
program to cover traffic accidents, childhood injuries,
occupational injuries, violence against women, child
abuse, and emergency preparedness. In 2003, the program
started implementing activities, and it developed a plan
of action on Injury and Accident Prevention for 2003-
18. Comment: As a result of Lebanon's central government
weaknesses in environmental and health issues, the NGO
sector stepped in to fill the vacuum, gained in vitality,
and is making major contributions to the health and
natural resources sectors of Lebanon.