Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Akkar is the poorest district of Lebanon: a recent UNDP report found that 63% of the families are deprived and face serious poverty. Located in the extreme north of the country, Akkar is an agricultural district, with an estimated rural population of 80%, the highest in Lebanon.

The landscape of Akkar is breathtakingly beautiful and extremely diverse. There are 3 principal physiographic zones: the plain (al Sahl), the mid-elevation plateau, and the mountains (al Jurd), which reach up to the tallest peak of Lebanon, the Qornet al Sawda. Akkar is home to the Qammou`a fir forest, a unique environmental treasure, and to vast expanses of oak and pine forests. The plain is endowed with rich, fertile soils and generous water resources. On the coast, small scale fishing and vegetable production are a major source of income. Besides farming and fishing, enrollment in the Lebanese army is one of the few livelihood options open to the poor of Akkar.

Akkar was under quasi-feudal rule till recent times, and the current social and economic relations are still heavily impregnated with this history. As in all feudal societies, resources, especially land, was in the hand of a few. This has resulted in tremendous social and economic inequality: Akkar has, according to the UNDP, the highest level of inequality in Lebanon. The Lebanese state bears much responsibility for this situation: public investments in basic infrastructure and services such as health and education but also in agricultural development and small industries have been minimal.

Poverty and inequality lead to extremism and to political violence. Major investments are immediately required in the basic sectors, such as health and education, but also in the productive sectors, such as agriculture, in order to help the poor construct sustainable livelihoods. Akkar’s natural resources endowment combined with a significant rural society offer a tremendous potential that must be captured. In light of the dramatic increase in world food prices, this is the moment to do so.

Photos by Tanya Traboulsi


Ms Levantine said...

What is the village in the first picture? Tks.


Rami Zurayk said...

Small village on the road from Halba to Rahbeh. Cant remember the name

Anonymous said...

So elementary, isn't it?
Busy, well fed and sheltered people are hard to recruit for anyone.

Ms Levantine said...

Tks Rami. I don't know about the road from Halba, but the area is amazing.

The view looking south with the highest point in Mt Lebanon is unique.

The valley bet. Sir and Fneidek, the road from Ammu'a to Hermel, Jabal Akkroum, even the coastal road has a beach...

Akkar's potential is huge, but of course we will mess it up.


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