Minteshreen played an integral role in supporting environmental groups to stop the Bisri Dam, a project that would have irreversibly damaged the natural ecosystem of Lebanon without a clear-cut benefit in terms of water. Through sit-ins and awareness campaigns, the project was finally halted.
The Bisri Valley is considered one of the most biodiverse and culturally significant landscapes in Lebanon. It is an important habitat for migratory birds, it is abundant with historical sites, and the area has productive agricultural activity that is critical for the local economy. A World-Bank funded dam project that costs $617 million, threatened to destroy 6 million square meters of natural areas and agricultural lands, and the dismantling of more than 50 historical sites.
After October 17, all on-going government projects that were inefficient, costly and damaging, were brought to light. This gave new life to a 2014 campaign called “Save Bisri Valley” that was started by local environmental activists, where Minteshreen organized and joined forces with other activists for a year-long camp-in at Bisri to stall construction efforts and, assisted in orchestrating a huge email campaign to the World Bank. Finally, we created awareness campaigns on viable alternatives that preserve the biosphere and green areas, such as fixing water networks’ physical failures or other sustainable solutions instead of costly Dam projects.
On September 5 2020, the World Bank officially canceled its $244 million loan for the Bisri dam project, citing the civil society actions against the Lebanese government which had failed to address technical, economic, environmental and social considerations.