UNIFIL Civil Affairs Office recently handed over food processing equipment to the “Better Society” organization in the southern Lebanese village of Suwwanan, thus benefiting local farmers and women’s cooperatives. More than half of the 25 members of the “Better Society” organization are women.
The equipment donated last month included, amongst others, an electric tomato paste juice extractor, three olive pickle and grinding machines and a bucket for boiling.
The head of the “Better Society”, Wael Hammade, feels very enthusiastic about the opportunities these new equipment and tools – funded through UNIFIL’s Quick Impact Project (QIP) – bring to the community food processing sector, especially to the women’s cooperatives.
“For the first time in the region, we are empowering and promoting the role of women to work in the food processing industry,” he said. “This is very important to activate and encourage women to work in this type of industry within our societies.”
The mechanical tools would contribute to the production of food rations for underserved families currently struggling amidst the COVID-19 pandemic to make ends meet. This donation also confirms UNIFIL’s commitment to the landmark UN Security Council resolution 1325, adopted on 31 October 2000.
For Amal Hamada, a beneficiary and an active community member from the village of Suwwanan, the donation of the new equipment will allow women like her to transition from manual work to machine production effectively and rapidly.
“Improving our income and becoming independent despite the challenges that we are currently facing, especially because of the COVID-19, pandemic is a priority,” she said.
“Before, women used to crush and smash thyme with their hands, but today, with the provision of these machines, they just harvest the thyme, air dry it to the sun, and chop it in the food processor,” she added.
The “Better Society” organization works to empower members of the agricultural cooperatives to move beyond subsistence farming and to farm large parts of their land for commercial purpose. In addition, the organization also plans to partner with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in providing training to the members of the cooperative on marketing, labelling, business management, so that they can become self-sustaining with time.
UNIFIL QIPs are small-scale, rapidly implementable projects which are intended to address some of the most pressing needs of the host population while strengthening links between UNIFIL and the local communities.