Public participation programme: The Akkar watershed study
A social and environmental study of the Akkar watershed, on the northern boundary of Lebanon and Syria, was initiated in January 2001 and completed in January 2003. The study was a cooperative Lebanese–Syrian–Canadian research project funded by the Canadian International Development and Research Council. The aim of the project was to utilize scientific information and data derived from the watershed study to define issues and possible solutions to be included in a bilateral watershed management plan. The project consisted of four components: watershed maps from remote sensing and geographical information systems, sampling and analysis of water samples, analysis of applicable legislation and institutional arrangements, and a programme of public participation. The direct impact on the watershed by the daily activities of its communities implies that these communities should be involved in both evaluation and management of the watershed. It is very important that environmental management and conservation relate to land use and policies to assure sustainability. A successful conservation approach integrates institutional, geomatics and public participation aspects, leading to the communities themselves being self-regulating. This will strengthen the sustainability within the watershed to enhance the quality of living of its inhabitants. This paper deals strictly with the aspects of the public participation programme on the Lebanese side of the watershed. This programme was designed to ensure wide public involvement and wide dissemination of information derived from the technical study of the watershed.