U.S. Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Ambassador Richard Jones announced the 42 new municipal-led local development projects that will receive in-kind assistance from the USAID-funded Building Alliance for Local Advancement, Development, and Investment (BALADI) program at a launch ceremony today in Dbayeh. The BALADI program assists municipalities through the provision of in-kind competitive grants and technical assistance to implement locally-driven development activities in Lebanon. This support enhances the ability of municipalities to address long-term development needs.
In the presence of USAID Mission Director Carolyn Bryan, René Moawad Foundation Executive Director Michel Moawad, Caritas-Lebanon President Father Paul Karam, and representatives from various municipalities across Lebanon, Ambassador Jones praised the collaboration of municipalities and highlighted that “activities being launched today will expand America’s support to local communities and represent a deepening of our commitment to Lebanon’s stability and prosperity.”
The 42 new municipal-led local development projects announced today were the winners of the BALADI program’s second call for funding launched in January 2015, and continue the trajectory begun in 2012. The new projects will cover nine sectors: agro-processing, irrigation, access to potable water, rural tourism, entrepreneurship and skills training, public education, electricity generation through solar power, sports facilities for youth, and community center. The projects will benefit 92 municipalities and villages across Lebanon in collaboration with 77 local NGOs. These new projects are expected to improve the lives of more than 250,000 people by the end of the BALADI program in 2017.
Over the past five years, the American government through USAID has invested $166 million in targeted economic growth projects in water and sanitation, reforestation, agriculture, microfinance, support to small- and medium- enterprises, and good governance. The five-year, $25.9 million BALADI project will continue through 2017. Additional information on BALADI can be found at: http://baladi-lebanon.org/en.
Below are the Ambassador’s remarks from the event.
Good morning distinguished guests, mayors, members of the municipal councils, our partners, and ladies and gentlemen. I am pleased to be here today to announce the results of the second call for municipal development activities under the Building Alliances for Local Advancement and Development project. The activities being launched today will expand America’s support to local communities and represents a deepening of our commitment to Lebanon’s stability and prosperity.
Many of us are familiar with the saying “unity makes strength” and I believe it best encapsulates the purpose behind our assistance to local communities. By bringing communities together to identify their own priorities and devise solutions that best suit their needs, we are paving the way for a nation of strong and resilient communities. USAID’s BALADI project is the ideal platform to support that goal. Through BALADI, we see municipalities and communities working together to provide services and opportunities that stimulate local economic growth.
For more than a decade, the United States Government has placed great importance on community-driven decision-making as the most powerful engine for change. Community engagement is the common thread that holds development initiatives together because communities contribute to and support the long-term success of each endeavor. That is why USAID, through its implementing partners, provides the support needed to develop municipal and community capacities through partnerships, demand-driven strategies, and a focus on long-term sustainability. This approach boosts job creation by supporting small businesses with training and equipment, which in turn enhances the economic prospects and improves the quality of life for local citizens.
Seventeen local economic development activities are now being implemented from Akkar (Ak-kahr) in the North to Tyre (Teer) in the South with projects ranging from health services to youth vocational training to rural tourism. Each of these projects injects new life into communities. A new cold storage facility in Ainata, nature trails in Khenshara, a blood-testing facility in Deir Ammar, a new sports complex in Saida, and a rehabilitated fisherman’s port in Jounieh are examples of activities that made visible differences in local communities.
To date, BALADI has contributed more than $3.6 million toward municipal-led, local development activities, which have directly benefited 100,000 people. Beyond numbers, we are really delighted to see municipalities energetically engaging their citizens in the conversation in order to achieve the greatest impact.
I commend the efforts of Lebanon’s municipalities at large. The United States recognizes your commitment to making your communities places where children, young people, and families can thrive. It is your energy, innovation, and knowledge of local needs that will transform the futures of your towns, districts, and the country of Lebanon as a whole.
I would also like to acknowledge the professionalism and dedication of our partners, Caritas Lebanon, the René Moawad Foundation, and their sub-partners. They are instrumental in ensuring efficient collaboration between municipalities and their communities as they design and implement activities that boost the local economy and improve livelihoods.
Thank you all for being here today. The United States shares your goal of a brighter future for Lebanon. Through these new initiatives that you are about to embark upon today, we are pleased that we can help make that goal a reality. As I said in the beginning, unity is a key factor to asserting your strengths and making your mark.
“في الاتحاد القوة”
فلنتحد من اجل استقراو وازدهار لبنان