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SPNL Launches its SNOW Education Program through the Hima Summer Camp in Hima Anjar

With the generous support of the MAVA Foundation and the UN fund for Gender Equality, SPNL organized a Hima education summer camp in collaboration with the municipality of Anjar from 2 to 4 September 2013. The camp targeted children of the age group between 8 and 12 from both of the communities of Anjar and KfarZabad. The camp signified the launching of SPNL educational program SNOW- School with No Walls ,which aims to raise awareness about the Hima IBAs and KBA, species and ecosystems through the hands on program, and learning through fun. The AnjarHima summer camp intended to raise awareness on the globally endangered species of the area including the River Otter, Syrian Serin in addition to the importance of the Hima Ecosystems including river, wetland, and forest.Further more this camp offered a sample program of the Hima educational activities that will be promoted to schools, in Hima AnjarKfarZabad site in the upcoming school season.

The program included team building and hands on activities which brought the kids of both villages to appreciate their natural ecosystem through special educational games in both Hima sites. Through the program kids had the chance to understand the linkage between livelihoods, culture and nature, through the specially organized field visits to the near agriculture lands and to the Anjar UNESCO World heritage site, where a highlight was made on the watershed of the area and the water uses by the local community. One of the kids from Anjar says “ Tomorrow I will visit our farm land and pick some leaves from different trees, to smell it and try to find the type of trees we have”, another kid from KfarZabad says “Today I learned about the importance of drip irrigation for saving water resources in Agriculture”.

The organization of this special camp was assisted by SPNL’s partners in Eco-tourism Great Escape and Responsible Mobilities, who trained around 15 personal, mostly women, from the local community of Anjar to manage groups and organize camp activities about nature and biodiversity. The involvement of the women in the management of group activities in relation to nature resources management was highlighted aiming to build the capacities of local women ,thus empowering their leadership role in managing their nature resources. Where the local trainees took care of managing and organizing the camp activities with a lot of passion and enthusiasm.

The last day of the camp was summed up by a closing ceremony which was attended by the children’s parents, municipality of Anjar and the schools of the area, where a video about the camp activities was shown. Furthermore a special play about nature and biodiversity was performed by the participating kids, also an exhibition including the crafts and painting done by the kids during the camp was displayed.

The Hima system is being championed by the Society for Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) as a part of their Important Bird Areas programme. One place where the hima system is being revived is at Kfar Zabad and Anjar in the Bekaa Valley. Kfar Zabad and Anjar wetland is a small marshland on the level plain of the Bekaa Valley (part of the Syrian–African Great Rift Valley) which is on the main migration route for African–Eurasian waterbirds through the Near East. The marshes are surrounded by steep, dry mountain slopes to the east and by agricultural land in other directions. Several globally and regionally threatened bird species have been recorded, such as Black Stork Ciconia nigra, Great Snipe Gallinago media and Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus, and the site consequently qualifies as an Important Bird Area.

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