WASH Sector: Status of operations at the Man-Made River Project
In May, several attacks, and acts of vandalism on the Man-Made River Project, including on the discharge valve main line at station 151, were reported in western Libya, leading to the disruption of water supply in several areas. The attacks are believed to have been illegal encroachments carried out by residents attempting to install water connections for their own use on private farms. The MMRP management indicated water shortage in areas of Ashawa, Sinaon, Nalut, and Awlad Mahmoud. However, following maintenance work, water pumping operations have since resumed normally.
In Libya, approximately 90 per cent of the population receive their water supply from three key sources: Man-Made River Project (MMRP), providing 60 per cent of the water supply; General Company of Water and Waste Management (well water network); and Desalination Plants (8 plants in total, operating at minimum capacity due to deterioration). An additional 10 per cent rely on borehole drilling. The increase in acts of vandalism targeting the MMRP is a key cause for concern, considering the fragile state of the water infrastructure in Libya. To address the mounting attacks, the government in 2021 passed the Law Number 7: Concerning the Protection of the Great Man-Made River Project, confirming it to be a strategic national project. As such, the Law 7 stipulates that “...whoever takes possession of land, facilities or buildings belonging to the project, or constructs facilities along its path or at any of its sites, or uses its water with illegal connections, shall be punished with imprisonment...”. Despite the passing of the law with its harsh punishments, attacks and acts of vandalism on the MMRP remain frequent.
The WASH sector, led by UNICEF, continues to work closely with national counterparts on emergency rehabilitation needs, however, funding for WASH-related activities remains low, with only 22 per cent of the required funds ($5.7M) are covered, while the lack of technical expertise at the national level remains challenging.