Entrepreneurs from south Lebanon display local products at UNIFIL

A UNIFIL staff member tries homemade ice mint tea.

A group of UNIFIL peacekeepers from the Chinese Battalion performs traditional dance at the start of an exhibition of handicraft and local food in the mission’s headquarters in Naqoura on 21 October 2016.

UNIFIL Chief of Staff Brigadier General Liot de Nortbecourt, flanked by UNIFIL staff members, tries a Lebanese traditional cuisine from a local women’s cooperative.

UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Michael Beary, and the head of UNIFIL’s Civil Affairs Office, Albagir Adam (right), interact with an entrepreneur displaying soaps made of local herbs and olive.

UNIFIL head Major General Michael Beary tastes the bread displayed by MOSAN Centre, a school for children with special needs in Tyre.

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25 Oct 2016

Entrepreneurs from south Lebanon display local products at UNIFIL

Dozens of Lebanese entrepreneurs – most of them women – from the country’s southern hinterlands set up stalls of local traditional cuisine and handicraft in the headquarters of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in Naqoura last week.
A total of 26 cooperatives and local associations displayed their products, which included local organic food items (including bread, jam, spices, medicinal plants, herbs, syrup, fatayer, thyme and molasses) and handicraft (including pottery, ornaments made from waste, crochet, fabric bags and ceramics).
The exhibition was organized by UNIFIL in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs in order to promote the work of local agricultural cooperatives, marking United Nations Day (24 October) and the International Day of Rural Women (15 October).
Opening the one-day exhibition on Friday, UNIFIL Chief of Staff Brigadier General Liot de Nortbecourt said the event strived to promote the local economy. “This is a way to empower rural women and thereby contribute to the local society,” he said. “This market provides an opportunity to local artisans and entrepreneurs to showcase their skills.”
The stall that caught almost everyone’s attention was the one displaying artefacts made of shrapnel from decades of war in Lebanon. “We collect these shrapnel in the mountain and I make it myself to show to the world that war is not good,” said Mohammad Nassif, a 47-year-old artist who made the “shrapnel artefacts.”
A father of four from Shab’a in south-eastern Lebanon, Mr. Nassif said he is in the business for five years and it has been profitable. “I make even castles with these shrapnel,” he said, pointing to the UN logos and cedar trees made of shrapnel.
Another interesting stall was of various handicraft made of recycled waste. Badria al-Ustah from a local community-based organization called Imam Sadr Foundation said all the items displayed there were made from wasted papers and kitchen waste.
“Other than these products, we also produce these gift boxes from recycled cardboard,” she said, pointing to some colourful gift items on display. Ms. Ustah is doing this for the past 12 years.
The head of UNIFIL Civil Affairs Office, Albagir Adam, who helped organize the event, said the main objective of the exhibition was to enhance the local economy through marketing.
“They are productive women; they are using all kinds of opportunities of income generation to support their families and to support their communities,” said Mr. Adam. “It could be a small contribution but it has a big objective that shows that now we have peace where women cooperatives can produce and can sell.”
UNIFIL has organized such exhibition since 2009 with the aim of providing income opportunities, promoting exchange of experiences and best practices between participating cooperatives, which contributed to the empowerment of women entrepreneurs in the south of Lebanon and the creation of informal networks for cooperation.


Article: Tilak Pokharel
Video Editor: Suzane Badereddine
Video Camera: Suzane Badereddine
Photo: Ghifar Charafeddine