Can Libya’s vast water project survive the conflict?
More than 90 percent of people in Libya – the population has doubled since the early 1980s – live in cities and towns on the coast. Coastal aquifers have either been drained dry or are being tainted by seawater intrusion. Old desalination plants are in need of repair. Plans to build news ones are on hold as the fighting continues. Meanwhile power blackouts mean people in Libya’s two main cities – Tripoli and Benghazi – have to go without water for up to eight hours a day, sometimes longer. Other parts of the country, including farming regions dependent on the GMR for irrigating crops, are similarly affected. There are broader concerns about the long-term fate of the GMR. Though there is a vast amount of water under the desert, it is not being replenished.