Can dryland communities cope with the global changes sweeping the world today? Is their predicament limited to their difficulty of building livelihoods on precarious natural resources? Can development research and external interventions offer any sustainable and fruitful partnerships to this end? This book relates the story of a relationship between a poor rural community in arid Lebanon and a development research project and their common journey to embrace sustainable resource use. The book compiles 10 years of knowledge and experience of a team of development researchers investigating sustainable rural livelihoods in the community of Arsaal, Lebanon. It describes the research experience and evaluates the innovative approaches that were developed, the successes and failures of the project, and the many lessons that were learned.
Uniquely, it focuses on obstacles in the context of sustainable development in the Middle East and North Africa region and proposes some innovative new directions, which have begun to generate considerable interest within the development research arena. In a very reader friendly, storytelling style, the book highlights the special relationships that existed between the various stakeholders, especially between the researchers and members of the community, how these relationships developed, and how they matured during the course of the research.
Shadi Hamadeh, Mona Haidar, and Rami Zurayk are researchers at the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.