Ambassador Hale Inaugurates Improved Fishermen Facilities at Jounieh

Today, Ambassador Hale participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony to inaugurate improved fishermen cooperative facilities at Jounieh Port, a project jointly supported by the American government and the Jounieh municipality.  The new fish preparation areas, boat repair facilities, and restored areas of the port will improve the fishermen’s daily business operations and increase their earning potential by allowing them to quickly and efficiently get their products to market.

Ambassador Hale praised the example of successful municipality-led economic development, noting that “the United States has worked alongside municipalities and local communities for nearly two decades because we recognize they play a critical role in ensuring the overall well-being of their economy and citizens.”

This project was completed as part of the Building Alliance for Local Advancement, Development, and Investment (BALADI) program, and was funded by the United Stated Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the René Moawad Foundation (RMF).  In addition to Ambassador Hale, USAID Mission Director Carolyn Bryan, RMF Executive Director Michel Moawad, the representative of the Head of the Office of Common Administration at the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities Racha Hourani, the Mayor of Jounieh Antoine Frem, representatives of the Fishermen’s Coop, and other local officials and members of the community also attended the event.

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.  This USAID-funded BALADI project will continue through 2017, supporting 17 municipal-led development activities in 58 municipalities and improving the livelihoods of more than 100,000 people throughout Lebanon.  In 2015, 40 new additional municipal activities will be selected for assistance under the program. USAID BALADI supports municipalities to work inclusively with citizens to accomplish priority community development activities.  More information on USAID BALADI can be found on http://baladi-lebanon.org/en.

Below are Ambassador Hale’s remarks from the event:

Good morning distinguished guests, Mayor and members of the municipal councils, our partners, and ladies and gentlemen.  I am pleased to be here to celebrate your efforts and accomplishments to improve the fishermen’s cooperative facilities here in Jounieh.

Fishing remains a key source of income for many Lebanese.  Through initiatives like today’s project, this trade is showing its potential to create more jobs, higher incomes, and brighter futures.

Much of the credit belongs to committed and strong partnerships between the Jounieh community, the Rene Moawad Foundation, and the American people.  After the community identified the need to improve the fishermen’s cooperative facilities at the port, the Rene Moawad Foundation, which implements the U.S.-funded BALADI project, worked closely with the cooperative and Jounieh municipality to make this activity a reality.  We see success of this partnership today.

Partnerships with the Lebanese people have always been the core element of our work.  America has worked alongside municipalities and local communities for nearly two decades because they play a vital role in ensuring the overall well-being of the Lebanese economy and citizens.  No community in Lebanon is immune from the wider economic problems present in Lebanon.  In response to these challenges, USAID currently invests over $166 million in targeted economic growth projects in water and sanitation, reforestation, agriculture, microfinance, support to small- and medium- enterprises, and good governance.  Today’s ceremony is a prime example of the breadth and diversity of these partnerships.

In Jounieh, our assistance goes back to the late 1990s when we worked with the municipality to help it provide better services to its citizens.  This partnership resulted in the establishment of the Citizen Reception Office in 2000.  It is a one-stop shop, still in operation, that streamlined municipal procedures and expanded citizens’ access to information and services.

Today, we continue to work with the Jounieh municipality through the USAID BALADI project.  Whether municipalities want to build health facilities or rural guesthouses or a fisherman’s hub, BALADI is here to help.  BALADI helps municipalities overcome financial and human resource constraints and implement critical community development activities.  The goal is improved living conditions and long-term economic growth.  Today, we celebrate work that will directly benefit more than 150 fishermen and their families with increased incomes and improved business operations at the port.  It will also drive economic growth in the community as a whole.

We congratulate Jounieh municipality, the community and all our partners for working together to support this development activity.  As we see, dedication, perseverance, and community spirit can initiate positive change, improve lives, and make a difference.

I hope that you will leave today with the inspiration, energy, and resolve to work together to take  more such action to address common problems in other areas of Lebanon.  That way, you can ensure that your sons and daughters will have a bright future as a result of your hard work and commitment.

I wish you all the very best in your continuing efforts and look forward to hearing many more success stories in the very near future.