CSP Supports Jurd el Qaitea’s Union of Municipalities (North) to Respond to Wildfires
Located in the mountainous forested region of North Lebanon, the Jurd el Qaitea Union of Municipalities is composed of fifteen towns and villages, home to around 130,000 Lebanese residents and 4,000 Syrian refugees. The union struggles with recurring wildfires which have been exacerbated by weak municipal response mechanisms. This has severely affected tourism in the area, which in turn has significantly reduced local economic opportunities and increased tensions among residents over limited livelihoods. In response, USAID’s Community Support Program (CSP) supported the union in 2022 to better respond to the wildfires by providing its fire truck with necessary fire response equipment, including a water pump and thrusters, a fire-resistant water hose and tank, fire hammers, extinguishers, and protective gear to be used by the union’s recently established volunteer first responders’ team. To sustain this investment, CSP trained the first responder team’s 24 men and 17 women on the operation and maintenance of the provided equipment, and trained them on victim rescue techniques and safety, as well as enhanced their firefighting capacity through fire drills.
On July 2, 5, 13, and 14, 2023, five wildfires erupted in the Municipal Union’s forests located in the villages of Meshmesh, Hrar, Qabaait, and Ain El-Zahab, threatening to expand into other localities. However, the Union’s first responder team utilizing USAID’s- funded equipment and training were able to rapidly extinguish all the fires.
“We quickly limited the spread of the wildfires and the women firefighters USAID-trained played a crucial role in ground coordination, operations, and combating the fires,” said Mohammad Zakaria, manager of the first responder team in the Jurd el Qaitea Union of Municipalities.