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Lebanon assesses the environmental impact of its water strategy





LEBANON / MEDITERRANEAN. This strategic assessment carried out by Plan Bleu is a first for the Middle East and signals a move towards greater consideration of the environment in government policies.



Most waste water is still discharged untreated in Lebanon (photo CC-Cazz)
Most waste water is still discharged untreated in Lebanon (photo CC-Cazz)
With 2000 water sources and 40 waterways, Lebanon constitutes a reservoir of water in the Near East.

However, the population's needs are not being met and most waste water reaches the sea untreated, especially from local industries.
 
It was vital for a national strategy to be implemented to meet the country's needs as well as protect the environment.
 
These are the issues that the Lebanese government hopes to address. In March 2012, it approved a National Water Sector Strategy that had been planned since 2010.

This plan is particularly concerned with providing access to water for the majority of people in Lebanon and then treating most of the waste water.
 
These environmental and social improvements require up to seven billion US dollars (€5.1 billion) investment from different international lenders.
 
One of the strategy's strengths is the environmental assessment of the measures the government will put in place.
 
This has been entrusted to Ecodit's project office in Lebanon, selected through an international call for tenders that included 14 candidates.
 
“Their consultants will deliver a first draft of the assessment by June 2014 and will have three months to carry out this work. This will serve as an initial framework for the Water Sector Strategy for which all the stakeholders have high hopes,” explains Lina Tode, who is coordinating the process for Plan Bleu as part of the ReGoKo project (a regional project for “Governance and Knowledge Generation” in the Mediterranean).

Polluter pays

Lina Tode is overseeing the project for Plan Bleu for the Mediterranean (DR)
Lina Tode is overseeing the project for Plan Bleu for the Mediterranean (DR)
Moreover, Lebanon is currently the only country in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean to make environmental assessment of its policies compulsory.

“It's a first and developing this approach obviously affects the whole region,” Lina Tode continues.
 
Two thirds of Lebanese households are currently connected to a water treatment system, but it is the purification itself that is lacking. Purification is more or less only provided in urban areas by 11 treatment plants.
 
Lebanon will apply the “polluter pays” principle to finance its water policy long term.

The Water Sector Strategy provides a roadmap for the improvement of water access, efficiency and its return to the environment.

This policy includes 12 initiatives. Seven involve creating new infrastructures and the other five concern better management of this resource, its supply and demand and how it is returned to nature.


Michel Neumuller, MARSEILLE


Wednesday, March 5th 2014



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