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Reducing Water Use

Olive grove at Koura, Lebanon. Photo: Rabih.

In 2000, the Ministry of Energy and Water published a ten-year water and wastewater management plan based on the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management. It formed the basis for the 2010 National Water Sector Strategy (NWSS), which was adopted by the Council of Ministers in 2012. The NWSS is designed to ensure “water supply, irrigation and sanitation services throughout Lebanon on a continuous basis and at optimal service levels, with a commitment to environmental, economic and social sustainability”.[1] It outlines a series of infrastructural, technical and institutional measures that are to be implemented in the sector and includes plans to conserve water, reduce the rates of water unaccounted for and adopt modern irrigation techniques. However, budgetary and political delays have slowed the implementation of the NWSS and so far efforts have mainly focused on increasing water supplies.

In an effort to encourage domestic users to reduce their water use during the severe drought in the summer of 2014, the Ministry of Energy and Water launched several public awareness campaigns. However, these campaigns had limited success as they were launched when the drought and the water shortages that came with it were already in full swing. Moreover, as users pay a flat rate for water consumption and there are no measures to penalize wasteful use, there is little incentive to save water.

Besides government efforts to reduce water use, there have also been small-scale donor-funded initiatives to conserve and reuse water, such as greywater reuse and rainwater harvesting. While such projects remain very scattered, they have motivated communities and donors and can form an incentive for further developments in this area.[2]

Vineyard in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. Photo: Rabih.
Vineyard in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. Photo: Rabih.

[1] MEW, 2010.
[2] Farajalla and Brown, 2010; Mcllwaine, S. and Redwood, M., 2010; Karam et al., 2013.