CSP Holds a Town Hall Meeting in Bechwat and Neighboring Villages to Introduce Community Members to the Benefits of a Solar Farm Aiming to Enhance Water Provision
Bechwat, an agricultural town in Baalbek, Beqaa, is home to 2,000 Lebanese residents and 500 refugees. In addition to supplying water to its residents, Bechwat’s pumping station is a main source of water to the neighboring villages of Safra, El Mshayrfieh, and Ez Zrazir that are home to 500, 400, and 360 residents respectively. For the last 30 years, Bechwat’s municipality operated a back-up generator to ensure continuous water provision amidst frequent state-electricity cuts. However, with state-electricity provision down to 2 hours per day, and the worsening state of municipal finances, the back-up generator fell into disrepair, and the municipality can no longer afford to maintain and operate it. This has severely impacted access to water in the villages, fueling tensions over access to basic services. In response, USAID’s Community Support Program (CSP) is upgrading Bechwat’s water pumping station by installing a solar-powered farm with a capacity of 206 kilowatts peak (kWp) and an electrical system to ensure continuous operation.
Additionally, CSP is rehabilitating the station’s operation room to ensure waterproofing and adequate earthing and lighting systems. To ensure the sustainability of this intervention, CSP is training members of the Bechwat Municipality and the Public Agricultural Cooperative on the safe operation and maintenance of the Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, environmental compliance, and grievance mechanisms. On August 12, CSP held a town hall meeting to inform more than 71 community members on work progress, highlight the benefits of the intervention, clarify responsibilities, and encourage residents to conserve water.
“My apple trees wilt during the summer due to lack of water. I’m desperately waiting for the completion of the project so I can recover my land and plant additional fruits like grapes”, said Habib Kayrouz, a farmer from Bechwat.