Four million Libyans face imminent water shortage if new solutions are not implemented to tackle declining water, sanitation and health (WASH) conditions in the conflict-torn country, according to a 1 February UNICEF statement.
WASH conditions in Libya have deteriorated as a result of escalating violence and unrest following civil war and the killing of the country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Recurring attacks on Libya's Great Manmade River systems have eliminated the use of around 190 wells across the country, and a lack of funding prevents them from being restored.
In the sanitation sector, 65 Percent of households and institutions are connected to cesspits – underground tanks which collect and store wastewater and sewage without processing or treating it – rather than public networks, resulting in contamination of underground reservoirs.
The shortfall in funding required to improve WASH conditions has taken its toll on Libya’s desalination plants which lack equipment required for maintenance and restoration purposes. The Bomba Bay plant, which previously provided drinking water to 63,000 people across five different cities, is currently out of service with the estimated cost of repairs priced at $12 Million USD. UNICEF warns that a further seven desalination plants, which are currently operating at 27 Percent of capacity, are at risk of breaking down if immediate action is not taken.
UNICEF Special Representative in Libya, AbdulKadir Musse, said: “UNICEF calls on decision-makers in the Libyan government and international organizations to prioritize the WASH sector. The urgent provision of necessary funds to carry out maintenance will ensure continuity of adequate water supply and sanitation services. Communities will be able to practice daily healthy hygiene to limit the transmission of the coronavirus, and thus avoid a humanitarian disaster that would impact more than 4 million people, including 1.5 million children.”