Lebanon’s water supply system is on the edge of a breakdown. In July, a report published by UNICEF warned that most of the country’s water flow would steadily cease across the country within four to six weeks as the country’s power grid shuts down.
UNICEF’s Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, recently expressed that “unless urgent action is taken, more than four million people across Lebanon, largely weak children and families, face the prospect of critical water shortages or being completely cut off from safe water supply in the coming days.”
Lebanon is facing a dire economic crisis worsened by political deadlock. Shortages of funding, fuel and supplies have affected water pumping have restricted people’s access to safe water. The country also hosts the largest per capita population of Syrian refugees in the world, providing shelter for 1.7 million people. The regions of Baalbek-Hermel and Bekaa, both with at least 40 percent of Syrian refugee populations, are among the most vulnerable areas to water shortages in the country.
Lebanon has also faced months of stark fuel scarcity that have led to long lines at petrol stations and pushed the small Middle Eastern country into darkness. On August 11, Lebanon’s central bank said it could no longer finance fuel imports at heavily subsidized exchange rates and would switch to market rates. In addition, the Hezbollah group had announced that Iranian oil would be transported to the country, though the move was criticized by the government.
The government also objected to the Banque du Liban’s decisions, refusing to change official selling prices, thus creating a standoff that left importers in limbo and caused supplies to dry up across the country.
Following an emergency meeting on August 21, Lebanese officials decided to increase the price of fuel by 66 percent to ease the crippling fuel shortages.