Making COVID-19 an opportunity to foster synergies between NAWAMED and other initiatives in Lebanon


The COVID-19 lockdown resulted in freezing activities in Lebanon and across the world. During this period, Dr. Yaser Abunnasr (NAWAMED project coordinator in Lebanon for the American University of Beirut - AUB) received two invitations from the Lebanese University, which is part of the ENI CBC MED project AQUACYCLE and from Difaf s.a.l. (which means shorelines in Arabic),  a company specialized in nature-based solutions  to discuss the possible synergies and collaborations that can be pushed forward. Meetings with both entities were carried out during the month of April 2020. Both entities present complementarities with NAWAMED to be able to develop some common and intersecting objectives.

One of the projects that we are interested to collaborate with and start creating synergies to enhance and tackle the common challenge, is AQUACYCLE. While in NAWAMED we are focusing on nature-based solutions, the AQUACYCLE project is focused on larger scale and cost effective solutions to waste water. This provides complimentary approaches where experiences can be shared.

Some common phases of both projects (AQUACYCLE and NAWAMED) include constructing pilot projects (prototype) for the treatment and reuse of urban wastewater/gray water, which will eventually produce environmental benefits from reductions in the impacts of wastewater discharges on the environment.

Besides, a multitude of actors and stakeholders are set to benefit from both of these projects’ activities and outputs, from the local to the national level, as well as the Mediterranean region as a whole. This is why we are interested to collaborate and to create a synergy within these 2 projects at national and international level.

In this regard, at this stage Dr. Abunnasr shared ideas on Skype with Dr. Ahmad El Moll and his team from the Lebanese University, FPH, the Lebanese partner of AQUACYCLE () and plans to exchange knowledge and information related to technical activities/tasks, pilot experiences and lessons learned.

At a later stage, we’ll look forward to co-organize joint public events or workshops to present the project works and share any result, event and activity in order to reach more and more people and make a real change.

Contemporary, the local Lebanese environmental consulting company Difaf  is working with UN Environment Program to identify some success stories of projects building on ecosystem services to face environmental risks in Lebanon. AUB had an online meeting with Difaf’s team to discuss about their interest in the NAWAMED project, especially its status and specific objectives in Lebanon, further than about the capacity building phase of the project. Through this interesting exchange, AUB learned that Difaf has expertise in the wastewater sector and especially the design and construction of constructed wetlands, which could initiate possible collaborations at the next stages of NAWAMED project.

Hopefully, such kind of collaborations at the time of the pandemic will allow us to overcome these hardships and come up with a synergistic outcome that will continue to propel the project forward even in the time of crisis.