The Sustainable Development Goals in Lebanon
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Lebanon:
19 December 2022
Alissar Helps Curb Spread of Cholera with Support of UN in Lebanon
Since her graduation, Alissar, a 22-year-old nurse, has pulled up her sleeves to join other frontline healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic and now cholera, two viral outbreaks that have stretched the healthcare system in the country. Along with other nurses, doctors, and infectious disease specialists at the Diarrheal Treatment Center (DTC) in Tripoli Governmental Hospital, Alissar is today contributing to curbing the spread of cholera in North Lebanon as the second month of the cholera outbreak unfolds in the country. “I believe that health crises can be an opportunity for personal growth and knowledge enhancement for health workers, and I will always be proud to say that I have worked in the health sector during this phase,” Alissar says. Alissar has always been keen on developing her technical expertise in nursing to build a successful career, but she fell in love with this field as she delved deeper into it. “Initially, I chose the nursing field to fulfill my mother’s unattained dream; however, I started developing a personal interest in nursing throughout my practice and my discovery of the human body. I used to go to my internship with big enthusiasm as I looked forward to the new stuff I would learn every day,” she says. Starting off as a COVID-19 front liner Before graduating from university, Alissar’s biggest concern was not finding a job opportunity because she lacked work experience. However, graduating in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic offered her the opportunity to join frontline healthcare workers and support in curbing this outbreak. “I was a shy fresh graduate and I did not know how to deal with challenging situations the way I do today after I witnessed many deaths and shocking incidents. However, I am stronger today, less shy, and fearless,” Alissar says. Joining the Cholera Response Alissar is a specialized nurse in supporting intensive care units and cardiovascular departments, and she was selected with few other nurses to join the team curbing cholera spread in North Lebanon after she underwent a technical exam in her specialization. “I knew that the World Health Organization (WHO) in Lebanon, in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), were looking for nurses to join their team at the Tripoli Governmental Hospital to work on the cholera response, so I decided to apply and I did very well in the exam.” With the aim of providing a comprehensive overview of the cholera outbreak response and in order to improve the prevention preparedness and the management of cholera cases, UN Lebanon through World Health Organization (WHO) has been collaborating with the Ministry of Public health (MoPH) to jointly lead on the cholera outbreak response. Through this project, WHO and MoPH are deploying and training multidisciplinary teams at designated hospitals in North Lebanon, including Menniyeh Governmental Hospital, Tripoli Governmental Hospital, Bebnine Field Hospital, and Halba Governmental Hospital. UN Lebanon through WHO is also providing technical and financial support for the teams working on the response to make sure patients are accurately admitted, quality case management is provided, the treating team is confident in providing the right care, and the healthcare staff and patients’ caregivers are protected. As a member of the multidisciplinary team deployed at Tripoli Governmental Hospital, Alissar has been trained to provide quality and adequate clinical care for cholera infected patients at the Diarrheal Treatment Center (DTC), which is one of twelve DTCs in areas affected by the cholera outbreak. “Facing crises requires discipline and abidance by health guidance. I am happy to be receiving this important knowledge from WHO and MoPH because it reassures me that I know what I got to do to save people’s lives while keeping safe.” In addition to capacitating the health care team with the necessary knowledge, UN Lebanon is also offering the necessary equipment and tools needed at DTCs to ensure an efficient response to cholera. “The center is very well equipped, so I have everything I need to do my job in the best way possible,” Alissar says. Through passion and hard work, Alissar is playing a crucial role in helping people face a health crisis despite her young age. “Being a nurse taught me that I should do my best to help people while accepting the fact that they might die without a previous warning.”
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28 September 2022
UN Lebanon Greening Restaurants: A Business with an Impact
"Generating profit might be easy, but it's hard to reach a point where you're proud of your work," says Aline Kamakian, 53, owner of Mayrig Restaurant in Beirut, Lebanon. Over the past nine years, Aline has been working on reducing the environmental footprint of her business, and today she is transforming Mayrig into a zero-waste project with passion, perseverance, and hard work. Instead of throwing away leftovers, plastics, and glass bottles together in landfills, Aline transforms food waste into compost that nourishes plants and plastics and glass into new useful items despite the challenges. From a Father's Dream to a Mother's Recipe Aline launched Mayrig in 2003 to fulfill her father's dream of having a restaurant that serves authentic Armenian food. She has been working with Armenian mothers on creating recipes and platters and ended up calling the restaurant "Mayrig," which means mother in Armenian. "The restaurant's name salutes mothers for their efforts to preserve Armenian culture and traditions, and the business aims to support Armenian mothers by offering them job opportunities and ways to generate profit," Aline explains. With wit and kindness, Aline convinced her employees about the importance of working towards greening her restaurant: "When we first started sorting, my employees thought that the extra tasks were inefficient and exhausting. But, with time, they started realizing the importance of sorting for Lebanon's environment. So today, they're keen on sorting and treating waste like we do." Aline handled this process alone for nine years until the financial crisis hit Lebanon in 2019. With the devaluation of the Lebanese currency, business owners started moving towards reducing costs. As a result, the cost of sorting, composting, and recycling became an extra burden for Aline's business, and greening Mayrig was thus compromised for the sake of other priorities. "The high expense of transporting the food waste into the composting facilities threatened the sustenance of the initiative," Aline explains. UN Lebanon Supports Green Restaurants & Circular Economy Before giving up on her dream, Aline's last option was to resort to funding opportunities. Fortunately, UN Lebanon, through the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Regional Office for West Asia based in Beirut, was looking for restaurants in Mar Mikhael – Gemmayze area to partner with on targeting the waste problem in Lebanon. Under this project, which is part of the SwitchMed II Programme funded by the European Union and implemented in collaboration with local civil society organization NUSANED between July 2022 and June 2023, the UN is supporting Mayrig by collecting their food waste. "I no longer have to worry about managing the composting of food waste because someone is taking care of that," Aline explains. Under the same project, UNEP regional office is also partnering with seven other restaurants in the same area by providing, through NUSANED, advisory services, and technical support around plastic waste management, food waste management, greening restaurants, and ways for allowing circular businesses to flourish. In addition to restaurants, the UN is also working with households to raise their awareness on the importance of plastic prevention, reuse and recycle and incentivize them to contribute to circular economy. “For each kilogram of plastics that households put in our bins, they receive points that eventually become shopping vouchers at local businesses in the area, and this is one of the incentive mechanisms we will be using for the purpose of encouraging waste prevention under this project. This way, we are supporting families by increasing their purchasing power and local businesses by promoting their sales”, says Rasha Sukkarieh, the programme manager at NUSANED. She adds: “By doing this, we are creating a circular and more sustainable economy in the area.” Today, Mayrig alone produces around 20Kgs of food waste and 4 to 7 Kg of plastic per day. In a country struggling with waste management, Aline hopes this initiative would reduce the negative impact of restaurants on the environment. "Multiply these numbers by 3000, which is the estimated number of restaurants in Lebanon. Imagine what all this plastic and waste are doing to our environment and health when dumped in the sea and on land?" Aline says. Greening Restaurants is Colorful In addition to reducing Mayrig's environmental footprint, Aline also relies on recycling to decorate her restaurant. She is turning wine bottles into colorful decorative chandeliers hung on the ceiling that cannot be missed when you enter the place. She also decorates her terrace with a green wall made from recycled plastic. For Aline, protecting the environment is vital for sustaining her business: "When you protect the environment, encourage tourism, attract new businesses, and sustain your business, it's a cycle!" Aline says.
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18 July 2022
UN Lebanon Supports Women-Led Cooperatives: Sustaining Productivity Amid Consecutive Crises
"I enjoy teaching other women food processing techniques and helping my neighbors find income generating opportunities. A lot of women across Lebanon are doing the same thing," says Samira Zoughaib Akiki, 58, the chair of Al Atayeb cooperative located in Kfardebian town, north of Beirut, Lebanon. In 2004, Samira and some other women established Al Atayeb (The Delicacies) cooperative to support their local community. Samira’s Early Days in Food Processing Samira began her career as a French language teacher at a local school in Kfardebian before she decided to follow her passion for cooking. One year later, in 2003, Samira resigned from teaching to enroll in a training for sewing and embroidery that Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) non-governmental organization (NGO) was organizing. As she interacted with more women, Samira realized that women villagers have very good food processing skills and that they are willing to share their knowledge. She worked with YMCA on introducing food processing workshops and eventually became a trainer in food processing. “Teaching other women food processing skills was my way of women empowerment. It also empowered me given that I was surrounded by generous women with a vision,” Samira says with a nostalgic tone. The Cooperative Model Although Samira enjoyed her work as a trainer, she was not fully satisfied; she wanted to do something more impactful for her community. "Knowing that locals obtain valuable agricultural and food processing skills and expertise, my colleagues and I decided to form a cooperative specialized in food processing. We believed that it would be the best business model because it helps create job opportunities for locals and divides profits equally among shareholders," Samira says. Al Atayeb is a women-led cooperative specialized in producing Lebanese local and traditional food, such as citrus marmalade, fruit jam, fruit paste, and the famous Lebanese Makdous (Pickled eggplants in oil), and it follows the FDA criteria of food safety. Today, the cooperative involves 13 women from various age groups who work in food processing. These women are also shareholders so they receive a share of the cooperative's profits, in addition to the salary they earn from working in food preparation and processing. “A cooperative serves the maximum benefit of the largest number of people possible, and it is a participatory form of group work that is rich with perspectives and ideas," she says. The cooperative also supports farmers through buying their local crops and provides job opportunities to local workers who can perform necessary logistic and technical tasks that food processing requires. UN Lebanon Supports Cooperatives Similar to many cooperatives across Lebanon, Al Atayeb faced challenges that threatened its sustainability during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Lebanon was also reeling under the economic crisis. Not knowing how to counter the challenges, Samira and her partners learned that UN Lebanon was providing support to cooperatives across Lebanon and reached out for support. UN Lebanon, with funds from the German Development Bank KfW, and through the UN Development Programme, mobilized 4.4 million USD to reduce the downturn impact of COVID-19 on cooperatives, Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs), and farmers. Under this project, UN Lebanon supported 94 cooperatives from different villages in Lebanon such as Deir Al Ahmar, Fneidek, Qana, Harissa, and Lehfed, with a focus on women, by providing cash for work and in-kind support such as raw materials, equipment, and tools. At least 6,000 individuals in Lebanon benefitted from this project, which helped them cope with the consecutive crises: the COVID-19 pandemic, the financial crisis, and the notorious August 4 Beirut Port Explosion. For Al Atayeb, "the UN provided monthly salaries for women to sustain their income, in addition to oil and sugar we use to produce our food, as well as the jars necessary for preserving produce," Samira says. "The type of assistance that the UN provided was very efficient because it addressed our financial needs; thus, replenishing our capital and compensating our losses. We were able to resume our activities at a time when many businesses were shutting down.” By creating direct and indirect job opportunities, Al Atayeb cooperative has been a key factor in helping many families in Kfardebian survive the crises, making women proud of themselves and their community. "Our cooperative represents the values we believe in. We work with passion. We help our community and serve the public good," Samira says with a pride in her voice.
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11 August 2022
UN Lebanon Celebrates Youth: Say No to Hate
Dima El-Awar, 21, stands in front of the camera with confidence and ease. In addition to being a good speaker, a skill that every journalist would yearn to master, Dima is keen on promoting positive speech and accurate information. Coming from Falougha, a small yet breathtaking village in Mount Lebanon, Dima was hesitant to pursue her dream career in journalism because she thought she was not good enough for this job. “As a young girl, I always received hateful comments about my personality and clothing style. Some people told me I was too loud; others said that I did not match the beauty standards of TVs and public figures because I did not dress up like girls. Although I used to feel bitter for receiving such comments in the past, today I smile and respond with positivity in an attempt to change other people’s attitudes,” Dima says. Before reconciling with these negative comments, Dima studied Chinese translation instead of journalism. With time, she recognized that she should not have given up on the dream of her life because of other people’s opinions, so she transferred to studying journalism. “I didn’t want to regret not pursuing my passion when I’m old, so I decided to get over other people’s opinions and to listen to my inner voice,” Dima says with a smile. UN Lebanon Helps Youth in Lebanon Counter Hate In a training that UN Lebanon, through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), organized to help youth combat hate speech and misinformation under the “Youth Countering Hate Speech and Misinformation” project, Dima listened to other people’s experiences with hate speech and realized that everyone is susceptible to hate. Dima learned about the various forms of hate speech, its impact on people, and ways for combating it so she eventually became more resilient and skillful in dealing with it. “When I understood that hate speech expresses the other person’s problems not mine, I started accepting myself. I also started accepting others for who they are and seeing the beauty in everyone,” Dima says. The training helped Dima realize that she had taken the right decision by transferring to journalism because “journalism plays a positive role in the community as it can counter hate speech and misinformation through positive speech and accuracy,” Dima says. It also helped raise her awareness on the importance of combating hate speech and putting an end to “bullying, destructive criticism, and marginalization of anyone based on their identity.” With funds from the Government of the Netherlands within its support to UNESCO's flagship initiative Li Beirut, and in collaboration with May Chidiac Foundation- Media Institute, UN Lebanon trained 15 youth from different regions and universities in Lebanon on media and information literacy, access to information, combatting hate speech, and countering misinformation. Under this project, the young participants produced 12 social media episodes about hate speech and misinformation after they were trained on the technical strategies for producing social media segments. Youth: Positive Actors at Heart Dima has always been keen on positively impacting her community and this has been manifested in her volunteering with the Lebanese Red Cross in Falougha as a paramedic and emergency medical services volunteer for the past 7 years. “Volunteering allows me to be close to people. Through volunteering, I can show solidarity to people of all ages, gender, and socioeconomic classes,” Dima says with pride. As a believer in the importance of giving back to the community, Dima is eager to counter hate speech from her role as a young person and a future journalist. “Young people can play a major role in countering hate speech because they are the future generation. They also have the power to change perspectives, are resilient, and accept diversity,” she says. After she overcame the influence of hate speech, Dima is today more confident to stand in front of the camera and to highlight the beauty of Lebanon.
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24 October 2022
Celebrating UN Day 2022 in Lebanon with Action, for the country's environmental recovery
Lebanon’s environmental recovery remains one of UN Lebanon top priorities! Learn how UN staff in Lebanon celebrated this year’s UN Day with an act of solidarity with the People & Planet, supporting the reforestation of Falougha and contributing to a greener Lebanon.
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