Lebanon’s water infrastructure is reaching a breaking point

Without significant action, public water networks will collapse and eliminate access to a sustainable supply of high-quality water for thousands of families. The European Union is funding support

UNICEF Lebanon
Water establishment's call center phone number
18 January 2022
Lebanese mother-of-two Collette, at her home in Jezzine washing her hands

For the past year, through a programme funded by the European Union and coordinated by UNICEF, all four regional water establishments, heavily affected by the Lebanese financial crisis, were able to continue operating and maintaining infrastructure to benefit thousands of families. The project aims to empower water establishments to effectively address water issues during such a difficult period and to provide water services to both the Lebanese population and Syrian refugee communities.

Water establishment's call center phone number
Water establishment power room

As part of a comprehensive support programme, a dedicated call centre has been established within the country’s water establishments. Working closely with the water establishments, the European Union has funded the repair of boreholes and pumping stations serving more than 680,000 people across the country monthly.

Invariably, there’s always a high level of manual labour involved in repairing damaged pipes. The programme has utilized the local labour force wherever work has been implemented, providing jobs for Lebanese workers and Syrian refugees.

Lebanese mother-of-two Collette, at her home in Jezzine



“Beyond the frustration, with limited bathing, washing, and cleaning opportunities, it was a risk to our health”

Jezzine resident and mother-of-two, Collette, suffered from an increasingly unreliable water supply to her home. Investigations revealed that the family was one of hundreds in Jezzine, South Lebanon, affected by the breakdown of a water pump. Hers is a familiar scenario nationwide. “Beyond the frustration, with limited bathing, washing, and cleaning opportunities, it was a risk to our health.” Occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic, where the importance of hygiene has perhaps never been more critical, Collette was concerned for the wellbeing of her young daughters.

Technicians installing water pumps at the water establishment
Technicians cleaning machines at the water establishment

While the country remains in the grip of a devastating economic and social crisis, the water sector is affected by low tariffs, dollarized maintenance costs, and the threat of continually rising fuel costs. Consequently, water establishments have been unable to deliver scheduled maintenance, leading to an increase in infrastructure failures.

Through funding provided by the European Union, the pump was removed and repaired. A simple procedure, but costly enough to be out of reach of the water establishment without the European Union’s support. The European Union is one of the largest humanitarian donors of WASH assistance worldwide, and it contributes around €200 million globally each year. Its timely funding intervention in Lebanon helped ensure dignified access to sufficient and sustainable water services for a population threatened by a developing humanitarian crisis.



"Water is the key element of living at home. It is essential to daily life”

Marwa , at her home kitchen in Jezzine district

The European Union’s funding of UNICEF’s WASH programme has enabled wide-ranging benefits to hundreds of thousands of people. Now, they guarantee the delivery of an average of 137,000 m3 of water per day, reaching more than 680,000 people monthly. Marwa comments how “the water crisis touched my whole building, not just one person. Water is the key element of living at home. We need water to wash, clean, cook. It is essential to daily life”.

Mohammad, at home in the Jezzine district

For Mohammad, the European Union’s support of his local water establishment has meant the difference between receiving water and not. “We used to come home from work, never knowing whether we would have water or not,” he recalls. Increasingly, however, the pipes would be empty.

“Life without water is nothing”

Although the fault was traced to a breakdown in the water pump – a pump that helped supply over 50 homes in the neighbourhood – the water establishment lacked the financial resources to instigate a repair. Through European Union funding, the regional water establishment was able to make a straightforward repair to the damaged pump, and, swiftly, the supply of water was restored to the homes. However, Mohammad recalls, “We suffered through our lack of water. Life without water is nothing.”



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This photo-essay was produced with the financial support of the European Union.

Its contents are the sole responsibility of UNICEF and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.