The water made the music dream sprout

Ali Bou (26) needed to earn money so he could pursue a master's degree in music, but there weren't enough odd jobs after the financial crisis. When water came to the village, he invested everything in a greenhouse. Now he's a trained musician and supplies the entire area with vegetables.


"Come inside, and you can see for yourselves," smiles 26-year-old Ali Bou. He is the major vegetable farmer in Deir El Ghazal. Enormous tomatoes and delicious bell peppers have become his trademark.

But let's rewind a bit—about three years. At that time, Ali's dream was to study music, but it was expensive. To make it happen, he needed an income to get him through his master's degree.

Without water for 40 years

Ali lives in Lebanon, which has experienced a financial crisis, the collapse of all public services, COVID, a bomb explosion, and enormous unemployment. People have lost all their savings, and unemployment is extremely high. Young people are fleeing the country in hopes of a better future.


The village he lives in had not had water for 40 years before Norwegian Church Aid stepped in with a water tank that holds 800,000 liters of water, repaired the well, and built a solar panel. With the water came the idea of cultivating vegetables as a supplementary income.

"When we got water for the village, I decided to invest in a greenhouse. I really needed to earn money," he emphasizes.

Now, three years later, we are here, being invited into the greenhouse, where he eagerly talks about drip irrigation, smart solutions, and water.

"Here you see water pipes where the water drips directly onto the plants. I get fertilizer from my chickens, and outside the greenhouse, I have plants that can withstand a bit of drought better," he says.

Impossible without water

It all started as a hobby to afford studies, but water from Norwegian Church Aid also made it a livelihood for his family.

"I couldn't have made this profitable without the water. I can feel the climate changes here, and I'm concerned about how it will develop. This year, we have the hottest summer ever. In the long run, we'll probably need even more water here; plants need more water as it gets hotter and hotter. Today, it's almost 40 degrees," he says.

Even though the vegetables were initially meant to secure his master's degree, he plans to continue being a farmer.

"I now have my master's degree, I teach music at school, and I also give private lessons in both flute and piano. But I really enjoy being a farmer too. Everything you see now is because of the water," he smiles, inviting us to a mini-concert in the living room while offering juice from the fruit tree in the garden.


Photos: Håvard Bjelland/NCA.