My name is Alice, I am from Italy and I am deployed in Lebanon with WeWorld-GVC as EU Aid Volunteers in Project Management. And my story from the field talks about water.
I am based in Qoubaiyat, in Akkar, a quiet green region with beautiful landscapes on the border with Syria, the perfect escape from the urban noise.
I arrived in August 2018 and since then I mainly deal with project proposals (from gender equality to education, from social cohesion to protection and shelter), as there is only one project ongoing in the area, MADAD: it promotes sustainable management of water services and resources in communities affected by the Syrian crisis and it is funded by the European Union.
Within this framework, I was asked to draft an activity in occasion of the World Water Day, happening the 22nd of March of each year. What I wrote has been enthusiastically welcomed by the rest of the team and right now, as a result, we are implementing awareness-raising workshops in 8 schools, targeting more than 500 students, followed by an Instagram photo contest and an exhibition of the most significant photos posted.
Why Instagram? Social media has been grown rapidly as a successful type of online communication tool and more recently tackling environmental, social and political issues. Indeed, not only media and social media have a great influence on their users, but they also result to be strategically relevant as vector of information in the awareness-raising processes, especially when it comes to the younger population. As a matter of fact, in Lebanon the number of Instagram users increased of the 12% since 2015, reaching more than 1.3 million people, where approximately 45% of users are between 13 and 24 years old. Consequently, in a country experiencing one of the greatest youth bulges in the MENA region, the importance of using social networks for awareness-raising activities emerged as an effective tool. After my 16-years-old sister’s clearance, we decided to go for it.
I do not know Arabic yet, except for few food-related sentences and bad words. Even so, the name of the initiative came up very spontaneously, more as a joke, at the beginning: “lifeمي”.
In Arabic, “ مي ” means water and it is pronounced “/mʌɪ/”: as a result we get “my life”, namely water as the most precious resource on Earth and as a fundamental Human Right, to which everyone shall have access. Indeed, the theme of 2019’s World Water Day is leaving no one behind and for this reason the campaign is meant to be complementary and reach an intended audience, evoke emotions and eliciting a response from the users, with one objective: spreading a message for water as common good and as exhaustible resource.
The campaign started in WEWORLD-GVC’s areas of intervention in Akkar, where MADAD project is being implemented, with the aim of, on one side, involving the youth population as virtuous vectors of change, to raise their awareness on water use and conservation and, on the other side, triggering consciousness on the world’s water crisis. Actually, students ended up in being very interested, participative and curious. Seeing their enthusiasm made us feel like wow, it’s working. At the same time, the initiative also aims at informing the youngster beneficiaries of MADAD about the project activities in their communities and about a proper daily water use and consumption, while increasing accountability, credibility and trust of local bodies dealing with water management. Thus, not only involving youth is a multiplier effect itself, but targeting the youngster population also brings awareness to their own families, considered as the indirect beneficiaries that will make this initiative even more sustainable.
ALICE BODO, EU Aid Volunteer in Project Management in Lebanon