On Tuesday, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) expressed its deep concern over the deteriorating situation of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Libya.
In a statement, UNICEF said that over 4 million people, including 1.5 million children will face imminent water shortage problems if immediate solutions are not found and implemented.
It added that the prolonged conflict in the country has left the sector facing great challenges, leading to a significant decline in services. This has resulted in a severe deficit in the state budget to purchase equipment, operational materials, and spare parts for regular maintenance. The UN organization noted that suppliers are also struggling to obtain letters of credit from banks in foreign currency to import equipment from outside the country.
It also explained that the repeated attacks on the Great Manmade River systems have caused about 190 wells to be rendered out of service, including Al-Jafara, Al-Hasawna, and Al-Sirir-Tazarbo, bringing this vital sector to the brink of collapse.
According to the statement, the General Company for Water and Wastewater is suffering from the deterioration of the water network, resulting in water losses in excess of 50%.
It pointed out that with regard to the sanitation sector, only 45% of households and institutions are connected to the public network; the rest are connected to cesspits, which leads to pollution of groundwater reservoirs. Furthermore, most of the wastewater is discharged directly into the sea without treatment, negatively impacting the environment and marine life
“The situation has been exacerbated by frequent power cuts and lack of fuel needed for operations. All these conditions could lead to a complete system breakdown and stop water supply and sanitation services to vulnerable families and children,” it noted.
Finally, UNICEF called on decision-makers in the government and international organizations to prioritize the WASH sector. It stressed the need for the urgent provision of necessary funds to carry out maintenance, and to ensure continuity of adequate water supply and sanitation services.