The fighting in Libya, particularly in the past weeks, has left the capital short of water and fuel. The disruption of the water supply to Tripoli through the country’s ‘Great Man-Made River’ pipeline system has left approximately 4 million people without potable tap water. Report by Roshan Khadivi TRIPOLI, Libya.
VIDEO: 1 September 2011 – UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on the first emergency delivery of bottled water to Tripoli, Libya, where the regular water supply has been disrupted by conflict.
As a UNICEF technical team continues to work with Libyan water experts to restore the supply to Tripoli, water bottles are being delivered to the capital and surrounding areas to meet the short-term emergency needs of the population.
Eleven million litres of water are being procured by UNICEF from neighbouring countries to cover the needs of approximate half a million people in the coming two weeks. A shipment of 500,000 litres of bottled water covering the needs of 24,000 people in vulnerable communities arrived on a World Food Programme (WFP) vessel last night in Tripoli. It is being distributed today through mosques and local organization.
An additional 3 million litres are expected to arrive this weekend to meet the emergency needs of 85,000 people for at least a week.
Water delivery saves lives
“UNICEF has increased water delivery to Tripoli,” says UNICEF Emergency Water Coordinator Pierre Fourcassie. “The on-going response is critical in saving lives while we are working with water authorities to improve the water systems in Libya.”
As the coordinating agency for water, sanitation and hygiene in the Libyan humanitarian crisis, UNICEF has taken the technical lead on the response to the cut in Tripoli’s water supply. A working group is now monitoring the situation and planning for restoration of regular water service.
Specifically, UNICEF is working closely with WFP on logistics and with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on information-sharing, mapping and high-level advocacy.
Presence in Tripoli
While UNICEF coordinates with these agencies and Libyan partners to restore the water supply in Tripoli and other coastal cities, the organization is also planning to establish an operational presence in the capital in the coming days.
UNICEF currently has teams in Benghazi, eastern Libya, and in Zarzis on the Tunisia-Libya border. Across Libya and at the border points, the main priority is to ensure the immediate well-being of the country’s most vulnerable women and children.