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Cucumbers for Life

Cucumbers for Life
6 years into the Syrian emergency response, displaced Syrian refugees and Lebanese host communities are facing major challenges maintaining food security. While food assistance is essential it is not enough. WFP in collaboration with Mercy Corps has stepped in to lift resilience by initiating its livelihoods programme in the Bekaa Valley.

Beirut- Deir El-Ahmar is a village in northeast Baalbek, home of the ancient Roman temple complex. Its hillside offers a breath¬taking view of the Bekaa Valley and the mountain range which forms the border to Syria. Outside the village, Syrian refugees live in shelters made of lightweight wooden frames and plastic sheeting. In recent years, more and more of these settlements have sprung up throughout the Bekaa Valley.

Faster Income

This village has 20,000 residents and 5,000 refugees. Like most of Deir El-Ahmar’s inhabitants, Elie Kozah, 46, is a farmer. He owns half a hectare of land where he grows grape vines and cucumber. “Now I can grow fruit much faster; what before took me four to five months now takes one and a half months.”

That is because Elie is one of the beneficiaries of WFP’s livelihood project in the Bekaa Valley in cooperation with Mercy Corps. A project which aims to enhance the livelihoods of local farmers by providing them with a greenhouse to grow cucumbers in addition to the essential training on how to use their new assets.

A Better Future

Elie’s new greenhouse needs a few working hands to assist in the harvesting and maintenance. Elie employs two Syrian workers at his new site. For them, WFP and Mercy Corps have given them an opportunity for a better future.

“The job created by this project helps us to survive, since we took refuge from the bombing in Aleppo we had no income. Now we can hope for a better future,” said Amira, one of the workers employed by Elie.

WFP’s livelihood project aims to reach 1,300 beneficiaries by the end of 2016. The project will be expanded to include a market to allow farmers to sell their own product to beneficiaries which will also enable them access to cheap nutritious food.