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Lebanon (10452 sq km / approximately 4.2 millions inhabitants) is a mountainous country (73 % of the territory is covered by mountains). Furthermore, one of the characteristics of Lebanon is the abundance of water resources (springs, groundwater), but this water isn't very well distributed because the precipitations are concentrated on 4 month a year only, and the weakness in water management policies. At the national scale, all the available water comes from the rain falling inside the country. It is an exception in the region, where the main water resources are divided between several countries.
Concerning the institutional water management aspects, Lebanon is in a transitional phase. A Recent water legislation foresees the development of water management organisations at basin scale and adoption of IWRM principles.
These institutional and policy aspects are very important, because at present the main water problems in the country concern the water distribution network (institutional and technical failures). The irrigation networks in Lebanon are relatively disorganised and individual initiatives are developed due to competition in the access of resources. The consequences in the Bekaa plain are the increase of the private and undeclared boreholes and irrigation networks.
The second problem to be solved concerns the bad quality of water resources, especially in the Bekaa plain where the main springs and groundwater resources are polluted.
The reasons for this situation are linked to the lack of waste water treatment in Lebanon. Waste water is discharged directly into rivers and irrigation networks without any treatment.
At the very least, the social and political context needs to develop adequate water management organisations including representatives of all the water users and respecting the denominational balance of the Lebanese Constitution.
The Case studies
Case Study : Upper Litani watershed (see maps of the pilot basins in annex J)
The Agricultural office of the CCIAZ is charged of implementing the spirit of ISIIMM project in the Southern Békaa region, especially in the "Canal 900" area, which is a canalization for irrigation only, managed by the Litani River Authority (LRA) the responsible for all irrigation schemes in the South Bekaa and South Lebanon Regions.
The area for ISIIMM case study in Lebanon is located in the phase 1 (2000 Ha) of the "Southern Békaa scheme" (21 500 Ha in irrigation and 1500 ha in drainage). The year 2003 was the first year of functioning. The Canal 900 is very well equipped and computerized.
The Water Users Associations were created recently. The main problems related to the use of water from the canal were the water pollution and the coverage of the irrigated area (which is restricted to the lands on the left of the canal only).
The ISIIMM team in Lebanon will try to understand the complete scheme, with problems and contradictions related to the six key axes defined by ISIIMM: Social, Agricultural, Institutional, Historical, Hydrological and Territorial.