Litani River Clean Up

On Thursday an ambitious seven-year programme law costing $US 730 million to clean the Litani River was announced. The programme law was approved by the finance and public works committees in Parliament but awaits approval from the Parliament which is currently not convening due to a political deadlock. The draft law was written by MPs from the Bekaa and the South, the two regions that have been affected most by pollution of the Litani. An estimated US $712 million of the project fund will go to sewage treatment; the major pollutant of the Litani River.

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Lebanon is in dire need of such a programme as pollution in the country’s rivers has reached critical levels. Unfortunately, not all sources of funding for for the programme activities have been secured yet. The government has so far raised $US 19 million from the European Union and about $US 55 million as a loan from the World Bank, with $US 656 million still needed to cover all project costs.

If parliament approves this programme law, then Lebanon commits to secure the funds for this project either from foreign or local sources. However, the government allocating funds from its own budget seems highly unlikely, considering the budget crisis it is currently suffering from. This has become a recurring problem; many projects in the country have been discontinued due to lack of funds. For example, many wastewater treatment plants that have already been built are not operational because of lack of financial resources. If these resources had been adequately provided, it is possible that pollution in the Litani River would not be as severe as it is today.

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