Lebanon's Water System Has 'Weeks' Left Before Total Collapse, UN Warns
23:37 GMT 23.07.2021 (Updated: 04:51 GMT 24.07.2021)
© Sputnik / Valery MelnikovClashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in Beirut, Lebanon.
© Sputnik / Valery Melnikov/
Taking into consideration Lebanon's crushing economic crisis, the World Bank recently labelled the nation's financial meltdown as one of the worst in modern history, with its currency having lost more than 90% of its value.
Lebanon has only a handful of weeks to improve the functioning of its public water system and avert a total collapse, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) revealed in a dire warning issued on Friday.
The United Nations agency detailed in its recent release that the Lebanese Republic's water system will likely begin to "gradually cease" in the next four to six weeks, effectively placing more than four million people at an "immediate risk" of not being able to have safe water supplies if the situation is not corrected soon.
Yukie Mokuo, who serves as the UNICEF representative in Lebanon, explained in a statement accompanying the release that the looming setback is being caused by the raging economic crisis ravaging the nation. She specifically cited the collapse of the country's power grid, fuel costs, and "dollarised maintenance costs" as the root cause of the water sector's nearing collapse.
© REUTERS / MOHAMED AZAKIRFILE PHOTO: Children play outisde a UNICEF tent put in place to provide psychosocial support to people affected by a massive explosion in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 20, 2020. Picture taken August 20, 2020.
FILE PHOTO: Children play outisde a UNICEF tent put in place to provide psychosocial support to people affected by a massive explosion in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 20, 2020. Picture taken August 20, 2020.
© REUTERS / MOHAMED AZAKIR
A shortage in supplies such as chlorine and spare parts, as well as system setbacks are also to blame as the insufficiency is giving way to some 40% of water loss. "Blackouts and an intermittent power supply are placing water systems under pressure, interrupting the treatment, pumping, and distribution of water", the group outlined.
"A loss of access to the public water supply could force households to make extremely difficult decisions regarding their basic water, sanitation, and hygiene needs", Mokuo stated, underscoring that "unless urgent action is taken, hospitals, schools, and essential public facilities will be unable to function".
"Hygiene would be compromised, and Lebanon would see an increase in diseases. Women and adolescent girls would face particular challenges to their personal hygiene, protection, and dignity without access to safe sanitation", she continued.
Citing data collected in May and June, UNICEF has stated that over 70% of individuals living in Lebanon are either between "highly critical" or "critical" levels of being affected by the development.
It was also noted that the collapse would prompt the costs of water to "skyrocket by 200%" when locals seek out alternative measures from private suppliers, a cost that would be difficult to cover for many individuals.
© REUTERS / MOHAMED AZAKIRA view shows the site of the August 4 explosion at Beirut port, Lebanon February 18, 2021
A view shows the site of the August 4 explosion at Beirut port, Lebanon February 18, 2021
© REUTERS / MOHAMED AZAKIR
The World Bank has described Lebanon's economic situation as one of the "most severe crises" since the mid-19th century, "possibly top 3". In fact, the financial institution determined that its GDP per capita had contracted some 40% in 2020, with sky-high inflation averaging nearly 85%.
While the financial group acknowledged that such an economic standing is typically caused by "conflicts or wars", it concluded that Lebanon's current standing is the result of a lack of political consensus over effective policies.
The UNICEF warning follows former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri recently renouncing his mandate to form a government after enduring nine months of failed negotiations to form a cabinet. Hariri was tasked with the job about two months after the devastating explosion in the Port of Beirut killed hundreds and levelled a huge portion of the capital.