Sharp Expansion of Intensive Groundwater Irrigation; Northern Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

Ihab Jomaa, Myriam Saadé Sbeih, Ronald Jaubert - 2015


This research focuses on the sharp expansion of groundwater irrigation in the Northern Beqaa, using Landsat satellite images and other auxiliary GIS relevant data sources. Topographic maps were used to assess the location and size of the irrigated area in the early 1960s as the initial years of agriculture expansion analysis. The first available Landsat image of the area was of the year 1972 followed with a series of accessible Landsat images until 2009. In the 1960s, agricultural practices were only limited to areas of surface water resources and open channels next to urban settlements. In the Early 1980s, farmers discovered the agricultural potential of the area. Only 3% of the area was cultivated before the 1970s. The cultivated area reached about the 20% in late 1990s. Weather conditions, shallowness of groundwater tables, low fuel costs and market opportunities have led to an agricultural boom in the area considered as prone to desertification and of low productivity by national authorities. The area is however poorly understood from its hydro geological characteristics and exposed to intensive and unsustainable use of its natural resources.

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