A report published by UNICEF warns that water in Lebanon will cease to pump within four to six weeks.
UNICEF’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore said that “unless urgent action is taken, more than four million people across Lebanon – predominantly vulnerable 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, restricting people’s access to safe water.
The country also hosts the largest per capita population of Syrian refugees in the world, providing shelter to 1.7 million people. The regions of Baalbek-Hermel and Bekaa, both with at least 40 percent Syrian refugee populations, are among the most vulnerable areas to water shortages in the country.
The financial crisis has led to severe shortages of basic necessities including food, clothing, medicines and fuel. On average, food items today cost about 10 times more than they did in 2019.
UNICEF estimates that water costs could increase by 200 percent a month when securing water from alternative or private water suppliers if the public system collapses.
The UN agency said it needed $40m a year to secure the minimum levels of fuel, chlorine, spare parts and maintenance required to keep critical systems operational.
At least 70 percent of Lebanon’s population faces critical water shortages with many people at risk of running out of water in the coming days.
The North Lebanon Water Establishment has announced a state of emergency, and began rationing the supply of water from pumping stations and wells. Similarly, the Bekaa Water Establishment has also announced water disruptions due to power outages at its pumping stations.