UNICEF ensures that water scarcity is no longer an obstacle for the people of Saadnayel
Within the current economic crisis, the Lebanese population is also facing water scarcity in many areas of the country. UNICEF is ensuring that citizens have access to clean water, a fundamental human right
Water is life, as the saying goes. For centuries, water scarcity has been a bitter reality in Lebanon, even before the country’s groundbreaking crises. With the deterioration of living conditions today, many areas have been facing critical water shortages or being completely cut off from safe water supplies, predominantly affecting vulnerable children and families. Saadnayel, a town in the Bekaa Valley in the Zahleh District of Lebanon, is one of them.
If you make a tour in its neighborhoods, citizens of Saadnayel can tell you the effect of water shortages on their daily lives. “When water was cut off, we felt cut off from life itself”, said Nour, a Saadnayel citizen. “We were unable to cook, clean, do laundry, or even take a shower”, she added. To compensate, residents resorted to alternative informal water sources such as tanker trucks, a high-cost remuneration plan.
With the funding support of the Government of Germany through the KfW Development Bank, UNICEF built a new ground circular reservoir of 1000 m3 capacity in Saadnayel, reaching more than 40,000 residents. The newly constructed reservoir has a positive impact on the potable water storage. Following the implementation of the project, the Bekaa Water Establishment is able to store today enough water from the regional supply scheme and the local spring and distribute it to its subscribers. “Life is back to normal and there is no need to spend large amount of money to buy water anymore”, said Nour, a Saadnayel citizen.
The implementation of the new reservoir required a diverse workforce featuring 32 young men and women, which supported them in learning new skills and inspired their innovation and business development. Bashar, a 23-year-old worker benefited from the income he earned to support his family and ensure his personal basic needs. Moreover, Abir, a youth worker, felt uplifted and equal with men during the implementation of this project. “As women, we learned how to paint iron, how to cast concrete floors and even to drive a bobcat truck”, said Abir.
Where women are less valued than men, and at times their rights are violated in many parts of the world, women empowerment in the Saadnayel project is one of the main strategies towards bringing women along in the development path. “I was eager to participate in this project especially that it required some skills that are not usually provided to me”, said Lama, youth worker. “The support we received as women brought us hope that societies today are less tolerant of inequality”, she added.
The project also supported inclusivity in the workplace. Mazen, an unemployed person with disability from Saadnayel, applied to work and was accepted as a warehouse guard. “I gained a great experience and I feel that I am now exposed to new opportunities I never thought it would be offered to me”, said Mazen. Diversity and inclusion are a turning point for people to feel valued, welcomed, respected, and included. Mazen has been motivated to provide the best he can. “The approach towards me here was exceptional. I felt that my skills are needed equally as any other worker in the project”, he added.
Furthermore, Riwa, proved that a girl on a wheelchair can be an active person in the society and should not be discriminated. Working in this project has been translated to greater productivity, more innovation, and better decision-making. Riwa did administrative work, and she expressed her gratitude to support the Saadnayel area in investing in such a project. “To every girl with disability, I tell her be strong and do not surrender. Your will is your hope. Work hard to achieve what you dream of”, said Riwa.