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Water of the Middle East and North Africa

What Does the Future Hold for Water in Lebanon?

Ammiq water wamp - Water in Lebanon
Photo 1: Ammiq which is the largest water wamp in Lebanon and is considered one of the most important shelters for migratory birds. (Source: Kameel Rayes)

Overall conclusion with summary of positive and negative developments

Lebanon’s water sector is facing a serious problem in terms of water management and governance and the inability to provide even basic services. Without major reforms, the situation is unlikely to change.

Although the original National Water Sector Strategy (NWSS) was issued in 2010, the impact of the proposed projects to augment the water supply appears minimal. Major water shortages are still being reported, and many projects that should have been completed in 2020 are still pending.[1] [2]

The updated NWSS, released in 2020, acknowledges the different challenges in the water sector, such as the lack of reliable data, fragmented institutions and the lack of coordination between the different actors in the sector.[1] However, the main issue remains the feasibility of implementing the proposed action plans. These will require not only a comprehensive managerial framework, but also strong political will and focus to tackle a rapidly worsening situation and ensure long-term sustainability of the resource.

Risk factors and problem areas

Regardless of the (pre-existing) challenges in the water sector, the current economic crisis is pushing the sector to the brink of collapse. Insufficient revenue in a currency that continues to devalue is making it impossible to carry out necessary maintenance. Water losses also remain high. In addition, public water supply to households is being affected by frequent power outages and the threat of rising fuel costs.[3]

[1] MoEW (Ministry of Energy and Water), 2020. National Water Sector Strategy Update 2020.
[2] MoEW (Ministry of Energy and Water), 2012. National Strategy for the Wastewater Sector, Beirut, Lebanon.
[3] UNICEF, 2021. Water supply systems on the verge of collapse in Lebanon: over 71 per cent of people risk losing access to water. Press release published on 23 July 2021.