Lebanon CSP Transforming Lives – El Qrayeh
Residents in Southern Lebanese Town Realize Greater Profits and Revenue
Municipal Events and Market Space Draws in Crowds and Boosts Sales for Local Producers in El Qrayeh
The usually quiet village of El Qrayeh in South Lebanon is abuzz with visitors and shoppers from neighboring towns. In August 2021, they inaugurated their new public space: a two-day market event enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.
Like many rural towns in Lebanon, El Qrayeh has long suffered from limited economic opportunities, fueling rising tensions among residents. This has forced many residents to depart for big cities or emigrate in search of better futures. Despite limited resources, the municipality with USAID’s assistance transformed this space to become a public garden. “This space used to be a dumpsite with no use at all,” explains local resident Aida Makhoul. “The municipality rehabilitated it and USAID equipped it, turning it into a sanctuary for the community as well as for visitors. In this garden, we genuinely feel that El Qrayeh is beautiful,” stated Aida Makhoul. USAID’s Community Support Program (CSP) equipped the newly rehabilitated space with kiosks, tents, benches, and prefabricated latrines to accommodate local producers to sell their goods and offer a relaxing atmosphere for visitors. “This open, clean, and well-equipped place gives renewed life to the village,” affirmed Hiyam Hlayhel, community member of El Qrayeh.
On a warm summer afternoon, while vendors are busy promoting their local goods and products behind new and brightly colored kiosks, cheerful crowds are enjoying the food and the music with their loved ones. Among them, a young man plays taoulé (backgammon) with his grandfather on a public bench and a little girl helps her mother sell lemonade to guests. There is a sense of optimism and joy, something rare during these days amid the on-going socioeconomic crisis. This newly inaugurated space is providing a much-needed socio-economic break from Lebanon’s tragic reality.
In parallel to these donations, CSP supported the municipality to develop a business plan to manage the space and trained community members on safe food production, event and project management, as well as social media management in order to broaden their products’ reach. Three interns from USAID’s University Scholarship Program (USP) were matched to the municipality to create a branding strategy for the market, update the municipality’s website, and assist the municipality in its digital marketing campaign. “Thanks to the expertise provided by CSP, we were able to implement branding for the market in a way that allows us to convey the true image of the products and the working women in the village to a wide audience,” stated Maroun Antoun, Mayor of El Qrayeh.
“The importance of this project lies in its ability to revive the village’s economy and tourism”, said Nisrine Nahouli, member of local NGO, Bqasta Association for Social Development. Despite the country-wide fuel shortages, El Qrayeh’s two-day event attracted more than 700 visitors and generated more than 11 million LBP in sales for the 16 vendors who participated. “This market space really widened our reach. Whereas we would previously sell our products only within the community, now residents from other villages are drawn to El Qrayeh,” explained Hind Haddad, resident of El Qrayeh.
“Previously we only marketed our products within the village, and to relatives and neighbours. With the new market space, news about us spread and visitors started coming in numbers!”
resident of El Qrayeh