Lebanon CSP Transforming Lives_LRI Damour
Josiane Francis is what many Lebanese refer to in Arabic as bent ed dayaa — “a daughter of the village” who doesn’t fail to respond to the needs of her community in Damour, a small village in Lebanon’s Chouf area. Therefore, when USAID’s Community Support Program (CSP) supported Damour in the wake of the wildfires in 2019, she immediately joined more than 150 local residents that were hired to carry out cleanup labor.
Josiane and her four children were asleep at home when the fires broke out. “We woke up surrounded by black smoke,” she remembers. “People were screaming. We had to leave the house, so we just started running.” The wildfires went on to burn more than 40 percent of Damour’s land, ravaging houses and offices and destroying the public water and electricity networks.
Due to the deterioration of Lebanon’s economy in the months that followed, Damour was unable to rehabilitate the damaged services or support residents like Josiane who were made vulnerable by the wildfires and the economic crisis. USAID’s CSP activity responded by revitalizing the water and electricity networks. CSP then provided short-term work opportunities for residents by employing them to engage in pruning and waste removal to reduce fire risk in Damour and its surroundings.
Josiane signed up for the activity after hearing about it from a friend, and, for three months, between September and November 2020,she has showed up six days a week to cut back burned foliage and pick up recyclables and trash. Her dedication, Josiane says, comes from her love for Damour. “We respect and take care of our land. If another fire erupts, it will not be like the last. We are children of this land.” The activity also enabled Josiane to use the money she earned to cover essential needs like clothes and shoes for her children and home electricity generator expenses.
The activity is part of a larger USAID-backed initiative that is supporting the delivery of essential services and enhancing economic opportunities in underserved communities, primarily in Lebanon’s North, South, and Beqaa Valley.