Food and Health in Rural Lebanon : Options to Improve Dietary Diversity and Food Security

In recent years, Lebanon has seen the decline of the traditional diet in favour of a less diverse and less healthy westernized diet. At the same time, rural ecosystems are deteriorating due to urban encroachment, water pollution and land abandonment. As a result of these factors, the rural poor are facing new and different health challenges, such as micronutrient deficiency, under-nutrition and a steep rise in non-communicable diseases. These health issues may be further aggravated by the recent rise in global food prices and the global financial crisis. The rural poor, particularly women, children and those living in marginalized communities, are most affected.

The results from a recently completed project entitled Wild Edible Plants : Promoting Dietary Diversity in Poor Communities of Lebanon (102692) painted a bleak picture of both the health status of the rural poor and the deteriorating ecosystems that support them.

Building on the findings of the earlier project, this project will further analyze the potential of rural ecosystems to support healthy people. Researchers will assess the human and cultural benefits of rural ecosystems, the environmental and sociocultural feasibility of local land-based food strategies, and the risks associated with an ecosystem-based food and health model.

The overall goal is to devise practical interventions and policy options for improving dietary diversity, food security and health in poor and vulnerable Lebanese communities.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Monday, March 23, 2009

End Date

Monday, March 25, 2013


36 months

IDRC Officer

Sanchez-Bain, Walter Andres

Total funding

CA$ 566,487


Lebanon, Middle East, Central Asia, Far East Asia, South Asia


Food, Environment, and Health

Project Leader

Dr. Malek Batal


University of Ottawa

Institution Country


Institution Website

Project Leader

Professor Salma N. Talhouk


American University of Beirut

Institution Country


Institution Website