The solution was initiated in January 2013 by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL), an environmental NGO, in order to help conservation of the various ecosystems, nature, and biodiversity in the Arab world by empowering women to pursue the sustainable use of renewable natural resources and enhance their livelihood in five Hima Sites including Hima Aanjar, Hima Kafar Zabad, Hima El- Fekha, and Himas of Qoleileh and Mansouri.
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL), the BirdLife national partner in Lebanon, aims at protecting nature, birds and biodiversity in Lebanon and to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources through reviving the Hima concept.
Hima means protected area in Arabic; it is a community-based approach used for the conservation of sites, species, habitats, and people in order to achieve the sustainable use of natural resources. It originated from more than 1,500 years ago where it was spread along the Arab Peninsula as a “tribal” system of sustainable management of natural resources.
Women have basic, influential, and guiding role in local communities and in raising up new generations. Moreover, rural women have differentiated responsibilities for maintaining the household (food, medicine, fire, water), where many of these activities are dependent on the environment. Therefore, the state of the environment has a massive impact on women and their role and responsibilities, and affects their health, their labor, and daily life.
In many if not all countries of the Middle East, women and other marginalized groups in local communities have difficult access and almost no control nor ownership over the use and management of often scarce natural resources that negatively affects their income generating capacities and livelihood.
The UNW Fund for Gender Equality programme “Promoting Hima Women Empowerment for Conservation and Livelihood” that aims to enhance the livelihood of rural women through the revival of the Hima approach in the sustainable management of the IBAs (Important Bird Areas) of Lebanon addresses this problem in five Hima sites.
By end of the project:
- Women groups should have increased understanding on Hima approach and proactive action on natural resources sustainable use, through organizing different training workshops on Hima approach, sustainable use of natural resources, conservation of globally threatened species, and site local action plans.
- Women groups should have raised voice in the local committee for the sustainable management of the site, through organizing different capacity building trainings on CEDAW and right-based approach, leadership, decision making, and group work collective skills, in addition to initiating women legal cooperatives within the sites.
- Women groups should benefit from new job opportunities and income generating activities within the sites, through developing ecotourism and marketing plans, organizing training workshops on the skills needed for the identified job opportunities and how to start a small business, manage it, generate income, and manage financials in it. Furthermore, women will be provided with the needed tools and equipment for the identified job opportunities and various marketing approaches will be used to support women such as branding, brochures, linkage with SPNL website, festival etc.
- Rural women and decision makers should show increased interest to involve women in the protected area management, through exchanging visits between the Hima sites, developing a guide including the success stories and lessons learned, and using different media tools to disseminate these lessons.
The awareness campaign and efforts on improving knowledge and skills of women have had an impact on changing decision makers’ and communities’ perception of the women’s role in the management of Himas. It has led to the increase of women representation in Himas local committees, establishment of an environmental committee within one of the sites where the majority of members is women in addition to women holding high positions in the management of the protected sites, development of an effective local action plan that realizes the vision of rural women in Hima management, and the revival of sustainable cultural practices by women for improved livelihoods including grazing, collection of medicinal and edible plants, weaving handmade carpets from natural wool and natural dye, and needlework are among other practices that optimize on local resources.
Himas have contributed to an increase in the quality of biodiversity, the number and variety of bird species within a year time in Hima Kfar Zabad; a 10% increase of the globally threatened Syrian Serin bird in Aanjar/Kfar Zabad wetlands; the reappearance of the common otter which is a globally threatened species around the wetlands in Hima Aanjar; and the detection of 50 nests of Sea Turtles in Hima Qoleileh/Mansouri in 2014.
The Hima concept was adopted in strategies of more than 95% participating representatives from different countries all over the world, through the submitted Hima Motion at the IUCN 2012 Congress held in Jeju, Korea.
Partners: The Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL), UNW Fund for Gender Equality, Hima Fund, local municipalities, the BirdLife (UK), IUCN (Switzerland), MAVA Foundation (Switzerland), MedWet Forum (Greece), and WANA Forum (Jordan).
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL)
Awad Bldg - 6th Floor - Abdel Aziz Street, Hamra
Beirut - Lebanon
Jamal Hamzeh/ coordinator of the UNW FGE funded project in SPNL
“Promoting Hima Women Empowerment for Conservation and Livelihood”