Decentralized cooperation

Agricultural Cooperative Association In Deir Qanoun El Ain - UNDP (United Nations Development Programme)

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UNDP grant : 16,500$ for the provision of food equipments and transportation vehicle.

The cooperative of Deir Qanoun El Ain (Tyr (Sour) District, South Lebanon Governorate) started in 1998 as an initial idea between twelve women to start producing nutritive and healthy food for their families in their homes.

The women took the initiative to contact the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Lebanon and asked for trainings on food production. With time, the women attended food exhibitions and realized that they had the potential to participate in such events. Therefore, each woman was cooking a specific product in its own kitchen and women
were joining efforts to transport their production to exhibitions under their common name “the
women of Deir Qanoun El Ain”. “I still remember our first slogan in our first exhibition in
Tyr (Sour): From our lands we offer you homemade natural traditional and healthy food” mentioned
Mrs. Daad, a very active and charismatic leader who is now the head of the cooperative.
Exhibitions turned out to be a total success and permitted building loyal customers, thus the
women decided to officially establish a cooperative as a legal entity. Once a cooperative in
2005, the women members started seeking and attending additional theoretical and practical
trainings based on scientific nutrition and health facts: such as how to determine the Ph or the
sugar level in food. Moreover, the cooperative started looking for funds to have a center and
equipments for their cooperative: The council of the South granted the center, development
agencies provided equipments, and the community offered farming lands where women started
agricultural production of the raw material needed for cooking.

Moreover each woman invested
in an initial capital, equivalent to what she could afford, that permitted the start up of the
cooperative. The soonest profits were genrated, women were refunded their initial investment.
With time, the cooperative grew stronger and bigger; it now comprises 23 women members.
Unfortunately, after the 2006 war the cooperative had to start again from scratch: farms were
burnt and all the raw material they gathered from the previous season was spoiled due to the
lack of electricity in the refrigerators, “all our efforts were turned into trash” Mrs. Daad sadly

However, the women agreed not leave their lives in the hands of fate; they decided to
take control of things and were motivated to restart work. In a matter of 6 months only, the
cooperative was back on track. “It is a pity that our work is so much linked to the economic and
political situation. However, my team is always ready to do all what is possibly needed to
overcome all sorts of crisis” mentioned Mrs. Daad.

The success of the cooperative is based on the teamwork and the enjoyable atmosphere
reigning at work. At the beginning, women barely new each others; now, they all became a big
family. Moreover, thank to the cooperative, women were afforded job opportunities close to their
homes, women became financially independent and able to support their family members.
Women are compensated based on the number of hours worked, they earn a minimum of
1200$ / year. The equipments granted by UNDP (oven, generator, cooking equipments and a
transportation vehicle) increased their production by at least 50% and decreased the time and effort necessary.

More importantly, Mrs. Daad believes that this opportunity boosted the self
confidence of women and helped in their emancipation socially and morally; she still remembers
when she first sent women on their own to an exhibition; they were very shy and were not able
to convince the customer; “now they are better than me!” she exclaimed. Mrs. Daad is aware
that the cooperative is a big responsibility; women became dependent on it for their
sustainability. “The women became as important as my own family and I cannot let them down”.
Mrs. Daad does not want to be a “one men show” she wants to make sure that each and every
member of her cooperative develops the skills required to perform any task: “this is why we call
it cooperative”. Mrs. Daad is a clear prototype of a good leader and an example each woman
should follow.

Source : UNDP