Raymonda Chamoun, Ghiwa Farah and Youssef Saab have one thing in common – a desire to use their expertise to facilitate sustainable water management in Lebanon. UN Volunteer assignments with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are avenues through which they make this desire come to fruition.
Raymonda Chamoun, Ghiwa Farah and Youssef Saab serve with UNDP Lebanon in water and irrigation engineering. Together, they support the Environment, Climate and Energy Programme to better manage the country's natural resources. They operate in collaboration with local municipalities and civil society organizations.
These UN Volunteers underpin UNDP efforts to provide cleaner and larger quantities of water to farmers. Consequently, this expands agriculture and positively impacts food security. They also monitor and coordinate with project stakeholders, contractors, partner municipalities and water establishments.
Effective and efficient coordination is crucial to our work. For instance, when we are replacing an earth canal with concrete or rehabilitating a damaged one, it is likely that farmers will not be able to use that canal for around ten days. Before initiating rehabilitation, we need to consult with municipalities and farmers to ensure that the time suits them, to minimize negative impact. --Raymonda Chamoun, national UN Volunteer Specialist Water and Irrigation Engineer with UNDP Lebanon
In partnership with Lebanon’s Ministry of Energy and Water along with funding from the Government of Germany through the German Development Bank (KfW), UNDP promotes sustainable use of energy and water by upgrading irrigation canals in four regions, namely Bekaa and North, South and Mount Lebanon. A dedicated team supports the setup and rehabilitation of concrete irrigation canals to optimize water use in each region.
UN Volunteers also facilitate the construction of hill lakes in key areas. These embankments provide additional water resources for farmers. As the hill lakes capture and store rainwater runoff, they help regulate water usage, notably during dry seasons. Hence, farmers maintain consistent crop yields throughout the year and reduce their dependence on groundwater sources.
The construction of the hill lakes and the choice of their locations mainly depends on three factors. First, the land where lakes are built must be state-owned. Second, it must have a source of water to feed it, like a stream or a river. And finally, its location should enable the highest number of farmers to benefit from it. --Ghiwa Farah, UN Youth Volunteer Water and Irrigation Engineer with UNDP Lebanon
Performing similar roles in different locations, each of the three UN Volunteers experiences unique situations and challenges with farmers and local partners. By discussing similarities and differences within their journeys, they gain new perspectives and further develop their problem-solving skills.
When I first started my assignment, Raymonda and Ghiwa greatly helped me understand the reporting aspect of our work. Despite working in different locations, we collaborate, share ideas and learn from each other. We have a culture of continuous learning and sharing that enables us to draw lessons and best practices. --Youssef Saab UN Youth Volunteer Junior Water and Irrigation Engineer with UNDP Lebanon
Raymonda, Ghiwa and Youssef help improve and sustain the livelihoods of many farmers and their communities in Lebanon.
Once, a farmer told me that he used to wake up at one o'clock in the morning and wait up to four hours to collect water for his crops. Now, the concrete canals deliver water to his land within a half an hour. The true inspiration is being able to use our expertise to help people and make their lives easier. --Raymonda Chamoun
On World Water Day, while UN Volunteers promote a sense of responsibility towards water resources, they also send a message to drive change on a personal level, for everyone, everywhere.