Libya : Water Emerges as a Hidden Weapon
Sunday 29 May 2011
Libyan postcard artwork representing the Great Man-Made River project. (Photo
With only five percent of the country getting at least 100 millimetres of rainfall per year,
Historically, coastal aquifers or desalination plants located in
Oil exploration in the southern
Scientists estimate that nearly 40,000 years ago when the North African climate was temperate, rainwater in
In 1983, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi initiated a huge civil water works project known as the Great Man-Made River (GMMR) - a massive irrigation project that drew upon the underground basin reserves of the Kufra, Sirte, Morzuk, Hamada and the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer - to deliver more than five million cubic metres of water per day to cities along
"The Colonel’s GMMR project was discounted when first unveiled as an uneconomic flight of fancy and a wasteful exploitation of un-renewable freshwater reserves," Middle East-based journalist Iason Athanasiadis told IPS. "But subsequently it was hailed as a masterful work of engineering, tapping into underground aquifers so vast that they could keep the 2007 rate of dispersal going for the next 1,000 years."
Lying beneath the four African countries
Fossil water is groundwater that has been trapped in underground fossil aquifers for thousands or even millions of years. Unlike most aquifers the NSAS is a non-renewable resource, and over extraction or water mining could cause rising sea levels.
"The GMMR provides 70 percent of the population with water for drinking and irrigation, pumping it from
"The entire project was drawn out over five phases. Phase one took water from eastern pipelines in As- Sarir and Tazerbo to Benghazi and Sirte; phase two supplied water in Tripoli and western pipelines in Jeffara from the Fezzan region; and phase three intended to create an integrated system and increase the total daily capacity to almost four million cubic metres and provide up to 138,000 cubic metres per day to Tobruk."
With an estimated cost of nearly 30 billion dollars, the GMMR’s network of nearly 5,000 kilometres of pipeline from more than 1,300 wells drilled up to 500 metres deep into the
"At the moment the only agro-markets in the Mediterranean zone competing to supply citrus and various other popular supermarket products to Europe are
"There are several elements to the Libyan mess. One of them is certainly water. I would highlight the issue by quoting similar situations in South and
"Kashmir is understood to be the cause of rift between
"In a nutshell, whoever controls NSAS, controls the economies, foreign policies and destinies of several countries in the region, not just north-eastern
Last month, Libyan officials warned that NATO airstrikes on the GMMR’s pipelines could cause a humanitarian and environmental disaster. But pro-government forces could also disrupt the GMMR’s flow if they wish, leaving opposition-held regions in the east with only the Ajdabiya reservoir - this holds just a month’s supply of water.
"Pure freshwater from the south must continue being pumped because without it
"In a desertifying region already wracked by water conflict,
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs