Libya′s Great Man-Made River (GMMR) Authority approved a project to supply all the cities in the eastern region with water.
The approval came after a Thursday meeting at the authority’s headquarters in Benghazi, in the presence of the authority’s senior engineers and Abdul Salam al-Badawy, the deputy prime minister of the interim government.
The participants discussed the project’s design and final studies determining the path of the proposed 700-kilometer long pipeline to pump 700,000 cubic meters of water per day to the eastern region.
By 2009, three out of GMMR’s five phases were finalized, providing all major cities with water. The fourth phase has made progress since then, but further construction was put on hold because of the revolution in 2011 and the ensuing civil war.
In the 1950s, the water was first discovered in al-Kufrah area in Libya’s Sahara during oil exploration. Plans were put later in the 1980s to build a massive network of pipelines extending to the coast. To manage the project, the Libyan government established the GMMR Authority in 1983.
The first phase began to supply water in 1989, second phase in 1996, and third phase was completed by 2009.
Phase I provides two million cubic meters of water a day along a 1,200km pipeline from As-Safir and southeastern Libyan town Tazirbu to Benghazi and Sirte, via the Ajdabiya reservoir.
Phase II started delivering one million cubic meters a day in 1996 from the southern Libya Fezzan region to Jeffara Plain on the western coastal belt, as well as supplying Tripoli.
Phase III was divided into two parts; firstly, it provides the planned expansion of the existing phase I system, adding an additional 1.68 million cubic meters a day. Secondly, it supplies Tobruk in eastern Libya and the coast from a new well field in al-Jaghboub town in the eastern Libyan Sahara.
Today, GMMR provides 70 percent of all freshwater used in Libya.
Since the beginning of 2018, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of wells being sabotaged. Currently, 96 out of 366 wells feeding the GMMR are out of service. This was already creating increasing water shortages for the Libyans who rely on the GMMR as their primary supplier of freshwater.
Continuous attacks on the water system further jeopardize levels of health and hygiene among the civilian population, particularly those most vulnerable, including children, and cause further hardship and possible displacement.