Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, CSP Assistance Enables Rural Lebanese to Keep Working Safely
The Story of the Fnaideq Agricultural Co-Op
On a summer evening in North Lebanon’s Akkar region, three women are hard at work in a kiosk adorned in rich autumnal colors and bearing the Arabic words Mounet al Kammoua
(“Food Preserves of Kammoua”). They are serving food to hikers finishing a long day in the scenic Kammoua Valley. The women come from a village called Fnaideq in Akkar, where
most people earn their livelihood from agriculture. More than two-thirds of the region’s Lebanese residents live in poverty.
To alleviate the economic strain in Fnaideq, a local resident named Fadwa Zahraman runs an agricultural cooperative that employs as many as 30 local workers at a time, including seven women. Until recently, the Co-Op’s limited resources prevented it from tapping into the local tourism market, including the busloads of Lebanese and foreign tourists in Kammoua.
USAID’s Community Support Program (CSP) responded by helping the Co-Op to expand its market reach, providing a kiosk that can be hitched to a vehicle and parked at various trailheads and a local fairground to feed hikers. CSP also helped to improve its marketing strategy. The Co-Op also received equipment and trainings to enhance production techniques and financial management as part of USAID’s Livelihoods and Inclusive Finance Expansion (LIFE) project.
More than just bolstering the Co-Op’s profits, the kiosk has enabled its survival amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The kiosk was exempted from government-ordered lockdowns, enabling the women of the Co-Op to continue safely serving visitors traveling to Kammoua for outdoor activities. Thanks to CSP’s assistance, they kept churning out mouneh — food preserves such as fruit jams and butters — and even upped their marketing approach. Now Fadwa and her team are looking ahead to the winter tourism season. “Last year, there was more money, no corona. Now there is corona and no money, but with the kiosk we are still selling our products. After corona, I won’t sleep until we introduce our
products throughout Lebanon and to the world,” Fadwa says.
This activity is part of a larger USAID-backed initiative that provides a broad range of support to improve the delivery of essential services and enhance economic opportunities in underserved communities, primarily in Lebanon’s North, South, and Beqaa Valley