Apr 122011
 

Agriculture and Food in 2010Most of the world doesn’t have the benefit of picking up food from the corner store — they grow it themselves. A family’s plot of land has to provide for their nutritional and economic needs. HCI increases communities’ knowledge of sound agricultural methods and empowers farmers on how to diversify viable crops, make the best use of the local growing season, and preserve local natural resources. This results in communities that can produce nutritious food for themselves in a sustainable way. However, distributing food is sometimes necessary, especially during times of crisis, but HCI believes in teaching people to fish, plant gardens and raise livestock for their household needs. This holistic approach not only ensures that families don’t go hungry, but also looks out for their health needs and long-term economic prospects.

Agriculture and Food in 2010Almost completely destroyed by repeated wars, and crippled by a blockade, much of Gaza’s agriculture sector is still struggling to rebuild itself. In 2010 local low income farmers in Gaza were given the opportunity to supply the basic food items and agricultural products to the bakery HCI established in Gaza, giving them access to a direct market and improving their economic stability. The bakery, which provides bread and baked goods to hundreds of food-insecure households with a special focus on preschoolers, also offers job opportunities to local vulnerable women, particularly widows and women with special needs. Kindergarten age children in impoverished areas of Gaza were provided with food and non food distributions the same year, to ensure that they get at least one healthy meal a day in the face of soaring food prices, rampant poverty and food shortages that the area is suffering from. Also in 2010, HCI’s local team of volunteer veterinarians continued follow ups and field visits to provide assistance and consultation to the poultry keeping businesses that HCI helped families in need set up the year before.

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Jun 252010
 

Food Security in GazaOn June the 1st, the Egyptian authorities exceptionally opened the Rafah border crossing in both directions, for humanitarian cases and aid, for an unspecified period of time. It is expected that an average of 750 people will cross daily. In addition, on the day of the opening, 13 electrical generators for the Al Quds hospital and five truckloads of clothing, bed sheets, blankets, tents and shoes were allowed into Gaza. Since the partial opening of the border, Gazans were streaming through the border with Egypt following the order from Egyptian President to open the crossing “indefinitely”. This move came after the Israeli attack on Gaza-bond aid ships on 31 May.

Rafah is Gaza’s only gateway to the rest of the world that is not controlled by Israel. Egypt, which has a 30-year peace deal with Israel, has kept the Rafah border closed for much of the past five years.

The Egypt-Israel blockade was tightened following the 2006 parliamentary election. A parallel economy operates as Gazans built a network of tunnels under the border to Egypt to bring in supplies.

While ordinary Gazans have taken advantage of the border opening, it is not yet clear whether all goods will be allowed into Gaza from Egypt.

Egyptian officials have been quoted as saying there would be no restrictions on the movement of Palestinians or on food, medical and humanitarian supplies being brought in. However, reports suggest that concrete and steel, which Gazans desperately need to repair damage from last year’s Israeli offensive in the Strip, would still need to be transported through Israel, which restricts supplies of building materials as it says they could be used for military purposes.

Food Security in GazaFollowing the partial opening of the border in Rafah on June 1, HCI’s teams inside Gaza and at the regional office in Beirut stepped up their efforts on the ground to enable them to deliver humanitarian aid to the people in need through the Rafah crossing.

Following the opening, HCI imported food through the Rafah crossing destined to thousands of food-insecure Gazans. The trucks were loaded with protein-rich foods such as meat and fish, which are difficult for Gazans to find or to afford.

HCI and its local partner in Gaza, the Aid and Hope Program for Cancer Patients (AHP), received the aid supplies, prepared them into packages, and profiled and identified food-insecure Gazans as recipients of the supplies.

Food Insecurity in Gaza

Food Security in GazaThe amount and quality of food available to the estimated 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip has been severely restricted by more than 1,000 days of a near-complete blockade. Sixty-one percent of the Gaza population is food insecure, states a UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report. There is a diverse range of foods available in Gaza; the problem is people do not have the means to purchase the food due to rising poverty and unemployment, now nearly 39 percent. Israel’s import and access restrictions continue to suffocate the agriculture sector in Gaza, directly contributing to rising food insecurity.

Protein-rich foods such as meat and poultry are especially difficult for Gazans to afford. Families have resorted to coping mechanisms including borrowing money and relying on aid from humanitarian agencies operating in Gaza.

Aid agencies are concerned by rising malnutrition indicators – increased cases of stunting, wasting and underweight children – and continuing high rates of anaemia among children and pregnant women.

A poverty survey conducted by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) shows that the number of Palestine refugees unable to access food and lacking the means to purchase even the most basic items, such as soap, school stationery and safe drinking water, has tripled since the imposition of the blockade in June 2007.

Food Security in GazaThirty eggs used to cost about US$1.83, and now they cost 14 about $3.65.

Without a change in policy, aid dependency is only likely to grow, warns UNRWA, which is providing basic sustenance to nearly 80 percent of the Gaza population.

Furthermore, the reduction in electricity supplies to Gaza as part of the Israeli blockade causes significant damage to vegetable crops due to the lack of refrigeration, as well as adding to production costs.

HCI’s Involvement in Gaza

HCI’s involvement in Gaza prior to the war included dispatching trucks loaded with basic commodities to Gaza by land. Two trucks loaded with parcels of food supplies were dispatched in November, 2008, almost a month before the war, to Gaza by land in partnership with local and regional partners and in coordination with the UNRWA. The trucks were prepared inside Jordan and transported to Gaza by land via Jericho after acquiring necessary approvals from all the relevant authorities. In addition, a US$1.8 million shipment bearing medical supplies and medicines left Canada in December and was scheduled to make its way into Gaza in January.

Food Security in GazaFollowing the war on Gaza, HCI and its local and regional partners stepped up their efforts on the ground to enable them to deliver humanitarian aid to the people in need. A regional and international fundraising campaign was launched to increase our programs and to launch new ones.

HCI’s teams inside Gaza and the region provided invaluable first-hand information from the field on the escalating humanitarian crisis and the difference donations are having on civilians in the middle of the crisis.

HCI’s team in Jordan was also busy preparing trucks loaded with food and non-food items, which were dispatched to Gaza by land via Jordan. The items were distributed inside Gaza via UNRWA food distribution centers.

Following the war, HCI’s Post-Conflict Recovery interventions targeted households and individuals addressing both their social and economic well-being. HCI assisted community households and individuals to rebuild their lives by addressing not only the economic impact of war but equally important the social and psychological impact on the household level.

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Dec 292009
 

Landmine victims in the South of LebanonLife in the south of Lebanon is not easy. In a country all too often ravaged by war it has suffered the most. Located along the Lebanese-Israeli border, one of the most volatile on earth, its residents live a life of uncertainty. In 2006 the simmering tension once again became full scale war almost without warning. The same could happen again. Southerners know this perhaps better than anyone else, and, as one can imagine, stress related mental disorders are widespread.

The scars of war are visible everywhere. Southern Lebanon is littered with unexploded landmines and cluster bombs. These, combined with injuries sustained during conflicts, mean that the South has a high number of physically challenged individuals. These individuals are severely limited in their opportunities. Again, it is war that is the main culprit, as it has prevented sustainable development and destroyed infrastructure. Services for the physically challenged are hindered by poor micro-economic conditions, as those areas which are the most economically depressed tend to also have high numbers of physically challenged victims of conflict. The result is very little support for the physically challenged, and a very poor state of accessibility.

Southern Lebanon suffers from high unemployment among the general population, and the physically challenged in particular have little chance of obtaining meaningful employment. Research indicates that 85 percent of landmine victims regard lack of employment opportunities and economic reintegration as their main concern. Insufficient access to training, education, and capital means they often lack marketable skills, making it extremely difficult for them to achieve economic independence. As long as this continues, the physically challenged will be unable to break the cycle of dependence that is extremely detrimental to their self-esteem and emotional well-being.

More than three years have passed since the end of the 2006 war, but the damage lingers. It has left a legacy of poverty and uncertainty to a region that is a stranger to neither. During the war between 1.2 and 4 million cluster munitions were dropped. About 40% of these cluster bomblets did not explode. Many of them have yet to be cleared, and they continue to kill and main. The bomblets have also severely damaged agriculture, rendering formerly fertile fields into virtual no-mans lands. Hundreds have been killed since the end of the conflict, and farmers take risks by continuing to work fields which have yet to be fully cleared. They do so because if they do not work the fields, they will become one more in a growing number of unemployed. Additionally, landmines are a part of daily existence. There are an estimated 150,000 landmines still deployed in Lebanon. The vast majority of minefields remain both unmarked and unfenced. Alongside cluster munitions they destroy both lives and livelihoods.

The impact of the landmine problem in southern Lebanon also includes issues of internally displaced people, basic services and socio-economic development. After the conflict, all humanitarian and development assistance efforts were hampered by the threat of mines, resulting in a lack of rehabilitation and resettlement areas, a lack of land for agriculture, an increase in costs of development, a deterrent to tourism and, of course, a devastating impact on people. Experience has shown that an integrated approach to a landmine/UXO and social rehabilitation problem in an affected country is necessary to achieve maximum efficiency, to reduce risk, and to achieve increased security. Additionally, an integrated response could address the problems of mine/UXO surveying, marking and clearance; terrain verification; and mine awareness in a coherent and coordinated manner.

HCI has had a long history of working to improve the lives of land mine and UXO victims in the region, we have collaborated since 1995 on numerous projects with local partner Tamkeen Association for Independent Living, which is a nonprofit organization that takes care of the disabled and works on their rehabilitation. Some of the many projects implemented by HCI include equipping the special education center, early intervention center and the physiotherapy treatment center for rehabilitation of disabled people (particularly landmine victims), securing emergency relief funds for those affected by the July 2006 war and the numerous conflicts the area has seen, a landmine and unexploded ordnance danger awareness program and a micro loan program for disabled people and their families among others.

HCI’s latest venture with Tamkeen is the Backyard Production Support project. The project provides complementary services to the farmers and entrepreneurs such as offering them seeds, soil fertilizers or any materials they may need -all free of cost – to improve their production, better manage their projects, and of course support their livelihoods as small scale farmers and entrepreneurs. The importance of this project lies in the fact that the beneficiaries are able to secure an income through micro farming and other enterprises close to or outside their homes, without the need to commute, placing them on the path towards self sustainability and improving their self esteem. We would like to share with you the stories of some of the individuals who benefited from the Agricultural Extension Project.

Nasser Oubeid

Landmine victims in the South of LebanonNasser Obeid is thirty seven years old; he lives in the Southern Village of Jibchit. He is the sole breadwinner to a family of eight children. He used to be a construction worker, but after stepping on a landmine he was disabled as a result of his injuries and was unable to continue construction work. Last year he started a small backyard farming and cow rearing project as a more feasible way for him to support his family given his current physical condition.

Since receiving HCI’s small grant Nasser’s backyard project has been very successful, he is aiming to buy ten thousand Carob plants in the near future.

Landmine victims in the South of LebanonSamih Nasser

Samih Nasser is forty five year old father of two daughters that have speech and hearing disabilities. He lives in the southern village of Deir Syrian. In 2001 he was injured by a landmine and as a result his left leg was amputated below the knee, he is still undergoing treatment and rehabilitation.

Samih used to own a small shop near his home that he was unable to continue running, this caused him a lot of anxiety, and he was eventually forced to close it down. HCI’s intervention has helped him operate a small farm near his home and given him hope that his family will have a better future.

Landmine victims in the South of LebanonHoussam Tabajah

Houssam Tabajah is thirty six years old and lives in the southern village of Kfartibnit. After a land mine accident he lost his leg and as a result of severe head trauma also lost his sight.

Thanks to HCI’s intervention he was able to successfully set up and operate a small kiosk that sells food items and snacks among other things. Houssam’s success has inspired him to dream of bigger plans for the future; his new goal will be to eventually set up a citrus farm and raise cows.

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Jun 092009
 

Farm to School LebanonTwo jobs were created at the Al Mona center for hearing imparities & mental development in Tripoli the week that Yazan, a member of the fundraising team in Canada visited the HCI team in Lebanon. The center, a subsidiary of the Charity of the Islamic Women Society was where the first meal of HCI’s Farm to School program was served to schoolchildren in Lebanon. Farm to school brings healthy food from small local low-income farms to underprivileged school children at schools located in low-income areas. Vulnerable women, particularly widows and women with special needs are employed to prepare these meals and the targeted local farmers are given agricultural support and assistance to improve their economic stability. The center’s students were served a nutritionist designed meal of locally produced organic sautéed green beans and beef served with rice and a yoghurt salad, with an apple each for dessert. “The kids enjoyed the meal and were really happy to be able to play with each other and make new friends afterwards” Inaam Aloosh, the president of the CIWS told us as we toured the premises and witnessed the students happily engaged in their lessons despite the many challenges they are faced with. The Al Mona center has been a longtime local partner of HCI and hundreds of children with special needs have been able to benefit from many of the facilities secured by HCI such as equipment for testing hearing abilities and a psychomotricity room that helps the children coordinate the movement of their bodies with their brains.

CSP LebanonWe drive away from Tripoli northwards until neighborhoods are replaced by slums; grimy and bare concrete homes in disrepair randomly layered over each other and navigable only by uneven dirt paths. We have reached Beddawi, our second destination for the day. We are here to visit Mona; a widow and a single mother of nine. Her son Abdel Hadi is one of the many orphans aided by HCI’s child sponsorship program. She runs a tiny dimly lit grocery shop which also includes a sewing machine in the corner that allows her to double as a seamstress “I am barely able to make ends meet on my own; Beddawi is a very poor area, there is hardly any work here, I don’t know what I would have done without the child sponsorship program” she says to us as we sit in her modest home waiting for Abdel Hadi and his siblings to arrive from school (despite her difficult situation, she makes sure that all the children get an education).

CSP LebanonWhen we enquire about how Abdel Hadi has been doing, she tells us that thanks to the his sponsorship he has recently been able to have surgery done in one eye to enable him to see better and will have the other one operated on soon. When he eventually arrives he greets us shyly and tells us about his day at school, he looks healthy and happy; it was worth the long bumpy journey to see his radiant smile. As he runs off to have lunch with his siblings we also remember that we have to head out to our next destination as well.

Micro credit lebanonEl Minieh is our next destination; we are here to visit Houriyeh, a widowed mother of two and a beneficiary of one of HCI’s micro credit programs. She welcomes us warmly and serves us chilled glasses of delicious fresh yogurt and tells us the story of how the yogurt came into being; “three years ago after my husband’s death, it was up to me to take care of the children on my own. I had heard of small microcredit loans that were being made available by HCI through a local partner and I decided to apply for one and buy a cow”. With this cow she was able to set up a small household dairy business that supplies the local community with fresh milk and yogurt. In addition to this, the manure produced by the cow is also bought by local farmers to be used as a natural fertilizer. Her cow eventually gave birth and she was able to sell the calf and settle her loan. It is amazing to witness firsthand how such a small sum of money has been able to impact this family’s life so positively; she tells us that thanks to this one cow she has been able to provide for her children and complete the construction of the house that her husband had started building before his death. We are impressed to learn that the yoghurt salad that was served at the first Farm to School meal in Tripoli was made of yoghurt provided by Houriyeh.

Agriculture ExtensionOur final destination for the day is in the Mhamra agricultural area; it is close to the Nahr Al Bared camp and was heavily affected by stray shelling from the 2007 Nahr Al Bared Conflict resulting in the loss of many harvests which dealt a crippling blow to the local farmers that are already caught in vicious cycles of debt. We are here to visit Khodor, one of these local farmers. Khodor and his six brothers own a small farm that they struggle to survive from.

Agricultre ExtensionHe tells us that he has been engaged for about six years now and will continue to be unable to get married until he manages to save up enough money to build a small home for his future wife and himself to start a family in. Right now the siblings and their families live together in a small modest house on the farm and their priority is keeping the farm productive as it is their only source of income. As part of HCI’s agriculture extension services project, Khodor’s land is being reviewed by a team of volunteer agricultural engineers to determine what can be done to improve its economic stability. It has been a long day, we have seen a lot. It is time for us to head back to Beirut to prepare for the next day.

People with special needsWe head southwards towards Nabatiye the next day to visit another one of HCI’s local partners: Tamkeen Association for Independent Living, which is a nonprofit non sectarian and non political entity that takes care of the disabled and works on their rehabilitation. They have been around since 1987 and HCI has had a long and active history with them: some of the many projects implemented by HCI include equipping the special education center, early intervention center and the physiotherapy treatment center for rehabilitation of disabled people (particularly landmine victims), securing emergency relief funds for those affected by the July 1996 war and the numerous conflicts the area has seen, a landmine and unexploded ordnance danger awareness program and a micro loan program for disabled people and their families among others. HCI’s latest project with Tamkeen is to provide agricultural backyard production assistance to the physically disabled; the importance of this project lies in the fact that the handicapped are able to secure an income through micro farming outside their houses, without the need to commute placing them on the path towards self sustainability and improving their self esteem. Until now 10 people with special needs have been given support via HCI to help improve the viability of their backyard farms.

People with special needsAs we are shown around the center we meet Ali and Abdallah. Nine year old Ali was born without legs and until a few weeks ago had spent his entire life moving around on a wheelchair. Now, thanks to artificial limbs secured by Tamkeen, he is overjoyed to be learning to walk for the first time in his life. Eight year old Abdalla, on the other hand lost his leg a few weeks ago when he inadvertently stepped on an unexploded ordnance while playing in a field near his home. He too will be provided with an artificial limb once his injuries fully heal. As we visit the different classrooms and meet more of the special needs children, we can’t help but admire the spirit the challenged show in the face of adversity and a feel a deep sense of gratitude and respect towards all the individuals and organizations that dedicate their time and efforts to make positive change and empowerment come into fruition.

As we drive Yazan to Beirut, we excitedly discuss new ideas that have started to bud as a result of our collective experiences coming together on the field. The visit has come to an end. We say our goodbyes and though we head off in different directions, our goals remain the same.

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Apr 292009
 

Cultivation of land and farming are amongst the most basic of human activities. Although we take it for granted, self sufficiency in farming is vital for a community, especially in troubled regions.

As well as providing a source of food, the agricultural sector is a major force in the local economy in remote rural areas in Lebanon and, more importantly, in many areas it is the major or only source of employment. 8% of the actual Lebanese labor force is occupied by the agricultural sector. For farmers and their workers the success of a farm or cultivation — sometimes only a handful of cattle even — can be the difference between hope and poverty. Even the ability to send children to school and pay for their learning materials can depend on basic agriculture and healthy livestock.

Given this, imagine the consequences when a farmer loses his crop or livestock to a natural or human-made disaster, such as the Lebanese-Israeli war in 2006 where 1 600 high-yielding milking cows and more than 20 000 goats were lost in one month in the south alone, as well as hundreds of thousands hectares of rich agricultural lands. These were lost/destroyed either by unexploded ordnances (more than 40% of cluster bombs have not been cleared yet,) direct bombardments or by ruined direct markets. In addition, farms in rural Lebanon suffer from diverse problems ranging from poverty to lack of awareness. This places an influence on the single household itself whether by the income provided by the man of the family, or women or children and their education. These conditions lead to many other problems related to health and sanitary issues. Access to a good nutritious meal is becoming a serious risk for children in rural areas.

“Imagine also the way in which a life can be improved with a small investment in establishing a farmer,” explained Rabih Yazbeck, HCI Regional Director. “Building on decades of experience in agriculture development programs in the region, HCI’s new program aims to help low-income and needy farmers establish themselves,” Mr. Yazbeck concluded.

HCI’s new project, Helping Hands, targets primarily war-affected regions in the South of Lebanon as well as in the Bekaa Valley.

HCI and its partners in Nabatieyh in the South, Joun in Mount of Lebanon and partners in the Bekaa valley will conduct surveys in each of the targeted areas to select humanitarian cases that can be included in the project. Three hundred beneficiaries will be targeted in the first phase.

People with special needs in Nabatieyh will be assisted to set up small plots of mixed crops; low-income farmers in Joun will be provided with pesticides, fertilizers and insecticide spraying; small farmers in the Bekaa Valley will be coached on the selection, planting, care, harvesting, post-harvesting handling and marketing methods and strategies; and, technical assistance on plant problem diagnosis (pest, disease, nutritional and physiological disorders of produce).

Extension workers will also work with farmers on developing new/direct markets and marketing and pricing strategies. Farmers will be encouraged on clustering of similar or complementary productions, on joint promotion and marketing, on cooperation and collective support for farming which can secure the viability and complementarities of the actions.

Livestock farmers will also be provided with technical and veterinarian assistance, as well as subsidized dairy cows, goat, sheep, and honey bees for the neediest farmers, especially those who have incurred losses during the 2006 war.

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Apr 292009
 

HCI launched this week its new project in Lebanon, the Farm to School program, with the objectives of improving the economic stability of low-income local small farmers in rural areas, providing jobs for vulnerable local women in food preparation, providing healthy meals for thousands of poor students, improving the nutritional health of poor school-aged children, increasing school attendance among poor students, and educating students on healthy eating habits.

Farm to School program brings healthy food from local farms to thousands of poor school children at schools located in low-income remote villages. Vulnerable women, particularly widows and women with special needs, will be provided jobs in food preparation. It is a win-win for everyone.

Moreover, the program teaches students about the path from farm to fork, and promotes healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime. At the same time, use of local products in school meals and educational activities provides a new direct market for farmers in the area and lessens environmental impacts of transporting food through long distances.

The program desires to support community-based food systems, strengthen family farms, provide jobs for vulnerable women, provide food supplement for poor students and improve student health. As soon as the poor students’ health improves, they will automatically regard the healthy eating habits as responsible for this improvement. Consequently, they will, more possibly, adopt these healthy habits for life and maybe spread them to other unfortunate members of the family who have no chance of this “luxury”. This program, as mentioned above, helps students, family farms, and vulnerable women. In this way, the family farm owners will have better hopes of making a direct living, the students will be motivated to get an education, and the women will benefit of their wasted time. These benefits are not limited to economy and education, but also it affects the psychological state of all these subjects, thus collectively improving the mental state of a big part of the village.

On the long-term, the program will introduce waste management programs like composting, and experiential education opportunities such as planting school gardens, cooking demonstrations and farm tours.

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Dec 032008
 

The border village Al-Wazani, an underprivileged agricultural village in Southern Lebanon located directly on the Lebanese-Israeli border, was heavily affected by the July-August 2006 war between Lebanon and Israel. In addition to the total destruction of infrastructure, the loss of lives and an economy suffering badly from the recession that followed the war, livestock losses during the war are estimated at 1 600 high-yielding milking cows and more than 20 000 goats. The families that already lived in fragile conditions before the conflict, found themselves facing a very difficult situation with the loss of the much needed income; most of them having no savings to make new investments.

HCI project is helping hardest-hit farming families to recover their livestock losses and resume their production activities which include milk production and processing into local yogurt and cheese. This involves the distribution of milking cows to those families and providing them with technical and veterinarian assistance. The project involved the development of a revolving livestock scheme, but requiring the first newborn cows to be given to other families in need. The project also involved conducting a comprehensive survey in Al-Wazani area by profiling hardest-hit farming families and conducting a needs assessment for shortlisted families.

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Oct 232008
 

The border village Al-Wazani, an underprivileged agricultural village in Southern Lebanon located directly on the Lebanese-Israeli border, was heavily affected by the July-August 2006 war between Lebanon and Israel. In addition to the total destruction of infrastructure, the loss of lives and an economy suffering badly from the recession that followed the war, livestock losses during the war are estimated at 1 600 high-yielding milking cows and more than 20 000 goats. The families that already lived in fragile conditions before the conflict, found themselves facing a very difficult situation with the loss of the much needed income; most of them having no savings to make new investments.

HCI project is helping hardest-hit farming families to recover their livestock losses and resume their production activities which include milk production and processing into local yogurt and cheese. This involves the distribution of milking cows to those families and providing them with technical and veterinarian assistance. The project involved the development of a revolving livestock scheme, but requiring the first newborn cows to be given to other families in need. The project also involved conducting a comprehensive survey in Al-Wazani area by profiling hardest-hit farming families and conducting a needs assessment for shortlisted families.

As a result, farmers are regaining access to food and sources of income. Among the most affected households who are benefiting from the project are families headed by widows, the wounded or the handicapped.

“As the number of livestock to be distributed remains low in relation to the magnitude of the losses, a substantial extension of the rehabilitation plan would be required to bring livestock keeping in Southern Lebanon to pre-war levels,” Mr Rabih Yazbeck, HCI Middle East Regional Director, commented.

In addition to the livestock recovery project, HCI is assisting hardest-hit horticulture farmers through the distribution of high quality fertilizer and pesticides to ensure increased crop production.

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Oct 202008
 

In the West Bank, civilians are cut out from the rest of the world because of the Israeli siege without any supply or support; they are deprived from basic life elements and their rights to live normally, in addition to difficulties they face in receiving support from foreign aid agencies. This obliged many operating aid agencies in the West Bank to seize operation, which in turn made the daily lives of Palestinians more miserable and prohibited them from getting their dire needs like nutriment and medicines.

Al Khodr, Houssan, Nahalen, Fouken valley, Bater, Al Walja and Al Jabaa in the South of West Bank are an example of olive oil rich, yet low-income villages that are suffering from the Israeli siege, the nearby Israeli settlements and the new West Bank Wall/Barrier. Farmers in these villages are constantly facing huge hurdle to access and cultivate their olive oil rich lands – the only source of income for them – especially farms close to the Israeli settlements or the new West Bank Wall/Barrier.

To alleviate the suffering and meet the dire need of low-income Palestinian olive oil growers and farmers, HCI has implemented the olive oil development project which consisted on building the capacity of farmers and provided them with much needed harvesting and pruning tools and equipments that helped them increase and improve their olive oil production, thus boosting their income.

In the West Bank and Gaza, HCI has pioneered in working on projects in the area of Olive Oil Development since 2005. In 2005, HCI, in partnership with local partners, pioneered into a totally new venture to help Palestinian olive oil growers and farmers. The initiative started in 2005 and helped to build up both the community networks and the expertise in the field of Olive oil development which enabled HCI to be one of the leading organizations in olive oil development in the country.

Far more than sentimental attachment in the eyes of Palestinians, olive trees–properly managed–can raise the incomes of hard-working farmers who often get relatively low prices from traders for their olive oil and not the true value of their product. HCI is committed to revitalizing this traditional Palestinian industry, in partnership with local partners.

Building on this success and accumulated experience, this recent intervention has targeted a new region in the south of West Bank, particularly seven low-income villages around Bethlehem suffering from deteriorating security and economic conditions and several restrictions and barriers.

140 farms were targeted by project activities. Equipments and tools were distributed to 70 farms in condition that they will be shared with another 70 neighbour farms.
Low-income and vulnerable olive farmers were targeted by project activities. Selection criteria included: low income families; families with more than 6 family members; families not receiving any support from other sources; priority for vulnerable groups, particularly families who have members in the family with special needs, widows, and elders; farms suffering from restrictions and barriers, e.g., close to Israeli settlements and/or near the West Bank Wall/Barrier.

New equipment, especially for harvesting and storage, included saws, plastic boxes, insect traps, ladders, and tanks for storage were distributed.

This was complemented by orientation workshops for farmers on important topics such as pruning, harvesting methods and techniques, preventing and fighting diseases, watering, and the right time for olive picking. HCI’s direct work with farmers boosted acceptance of these methods and increased awareness of the potential of a developing, local, olive oil industry.

Several local government and non-government, formal and informal entities were consulted and were invited to participate in project activities, including the selection of beneficiaries, the selection of targeted areas, and the prioritization of needs as well as in the delivery of project activities. The project was implemented in partnership with HCI local partner, the West Bank based Vocational Rehabilitation Workshops Society for Girls (VRWSG).

Local suppliers and extension workers benefited from those distributions. Harvesting and pruning tools and equipments were procured and acquired from local suppliers to support them in these deteriorating economic conditions.

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