Local development and exchange of experience in Beirut southern suburbs

21 Oct 2011

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At the heart of Haret Hreik, more than 15 women are boosting their computer and Internet skills during an IT course given at the Vocational Training Center. In the same Center, older women are learning knitting and crochet techniques in order to sell their products in the future. 

Funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA); the Vocational Training Center is an initiative developed by the Municipality of Haret Hreik with the support of UNDP to help vulnerable, mature and drop-out students in the Beirut Southern Suburbs to take classes on cooking, food processing, health, crafts, all free of charge. 

“I am benefiting a lot from this training, I am very proud of myself and of the final product I am preparing” says a beneficiary while knitting a scarf.
“Now I can count on myself, be productive and help my family”, she added. 

During a field visit organized by UNDP to the Beirut Southern suburbs on 12th October, Deputy Mayor of Haret Hreik, Mr. Ahmad Hatoum explained that the trainings in the Vocational Center aim at increasing the employability of persons in Beirut Southern Suburbs.

“In 2010, 840 persons have been graduated and 50 of them were inserted in job market” he explained.

UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Robert Watkins and the Italian Ambassador in Lebanon Mr. Giuseppe Morabito toured the Vocational Training Center and the Primary Health Care Center in Haret Hreik where they met with beneficiaries and were briefed on the results of the project. 

Mr. Watkins and Mr. Morabito also visited the Primary Health Care Center (PHCC) in Haret Hreik, which provides family and child care, prevention and control of chronic diseases.
 
The Primary Health Care Centre was established in 1997 in Haret Hreik, only as a dispensary, but since 2008, things have dramatically improved. This has been achieved through funding from the Italian and Spanish governments, in partnership with Arezzo Municipality (Tuscany Italy), with support from Art Gold Lebanon. 

All patients now are seen by a family doctor, and then if necessary, referred to a specialist. Screenings routinely take place for diabetes and hyper-tension, a common affliction for local residents. 
There is more of a team approach with collaboration between three doctors (family doctor, pediatrician and a gynecologist) who run community-based programmes. 
More generally, the clinic now receives between 10 and 20 new patients per month. Previously each patient was seen once a year: now it is three or four times. Among the other changes the new primary health care center has seen is the number of cases they receive each month.
Before 2008, it was 300 – now it is an astonishing 700. The center even extended its opening times by two hours from six to eight hours per day.

“It is very important to come and see the work of UNDP in Beirut Southern Suburbs in collaboration with donors and municipalities, said Mr. Watkins.
“Italy is on the most important donors of these projects, he added, explaining that UNDP is working to fight poverty in the poorest regions of Lebanon.” 

The Italian Ambassador highlighted the importance of providing health care services and thanked Mr.Watkins for the great work of UNDP Art Gold Lebanon in Beirut Southern Suburbs.

Stressing on the importance of collaboration with the BSS municipalities, UNDP Resident Representative and the Italian Ambassador met with mayors and deputy mayors of the municipalities of “Haret Hreik”, “Ghobeiry”, “Al Mreyjeh”, “Bourj Al barajneh”, “Al Chiah” and “Furn Al Cheback”. They all discussed the needs of the Dahieh area and shed the light on the basic achievements of UNDP Art Gold Lebanon. 

They also highlighted the importance of the cooperation between the BSS municipalities for local development and the exchange of experience on the local and international level.