Washington October 25, 2011 – The Greater Beirut Water Supply project which will improve water supply to over 2 million people in most of this sprawling urban area including the low-income neighborhoods of Southern Beirut, is expected to be signed by the Government of Lebanon very soon following a recent decision by the Council of Ministers.
On December 16, 2010 the World Bank Board of Directors approved the $200 million Greater Beirut Water Supply Project (GBWSP). In addition to delivering clean and reliable water to Beirut’s citizens, the project is also designed to strengthen the capacity of the Beirut Mount Lebanon Water Establishment, the utility responsible for the operation and efficiency of the urban water supply in the area.
In November last year, the World Bank’s independent Inspection Panel registered a Request for Inspection of the project from a group of residents of the Greater Beirut Region.
Following the procedures governing the Inspection Panel, Bank Management reviewed the request and the concerns raised in it, and determined that the harm suggested by the request will not result from the project. The Bank gave assurance that there is no tariff increase proposed under the GBWSP; that water delivered as a result of the project will be treated to national and international quality standards; that any economic and social impacts of the GBWSP are mitigated by provisions in the project design; and, that no water will be diverted away from irrigation. The project also meets the least-cost approach and does not preclude other longer-term investments to enhance the water supply.
The Bank’s assurances were also based on three independent studies commissioned to reconfirm the quality of project water, its quantity and the project cost, financial analysis and economic analysis.
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors reviewed the request for inspection, Management’s response and the studies. The Board found insufficient indication of imminent harm and did not authorize an investigation by the Inspection Panel.
The World Bank will continue to work closely with the Government of Lebanon in supporting the best management and protection of the Litani and Awali Rivers and their basins. As part of the World Bank’s ongoing technical assistance to the government for the development of the National Water Sector Strategy, a plan will be developed to monitor and manage consumption trends, identify and exploit opportunities to increase the efficiency of irrigation, and to develop climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.
In the short-term, the World Bank is convinced that the GBWSP is the best option to meet the significant demand for clean and reliable water supply in the Greater Beirut region. Additional options to further augment the water supply over the long-term are being reviewed by the Government of Lebanon with its development partners, including the World Bank.