THE ISSAM FARES INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
The Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in collaboration with Oxfam held a panel discussion titled “Water Governance in Times of Crisis” on Monday, February 24, 2020 at 4pm at IFI's Auditorium (IFI building, Level B) - AUB Campus. The discussion hosted the General Directors of the four Regional Water Establishments (RWEs) in Lebanon and the Litani River Authority (LRA) along with concerned stakeholders from the international community.
Lebanon is in the midst of a serious financial crisis that is affecting all its economic sectors with worrying ramifications on the social fabric of the country. Poverty levels are expected to increase by 30% with many businesses closing down and unemployment rates rising drastically. Additionally, defaults on all types of payments are rapidly mounting. To add to the dire situation, cuts in electricity supply by EDL are expected to increase by an average of 30 to 35%. This depicts the serious situation the country finds itself in and raises worrying questions most specifically regarding the water sector’s ability to cope with current and anticipated developments. In this context the discussion shed light on:
• The RWEs’ and LRA’s ability to provide water services to communities within their jurisdiction given the current financial crisis and its anticipated development;
• Challenges to water governance which may threaten water security in Lebanon, especially if the RWEs and the LRA are unable to maintain service;
• Proposed actions and mechanisms that would support the water sector and realign priorities, in light of current conditions and identified challenges;
• Role of citizens and various stakeholders, especially the international community, in supporting the RWEs and the LRA in meeting their responsibilities in the short, mid, and long-term;
• Opportunities that may present themselves due to the current crisis which could enable or empower a push toward sustainable solutions that would support a paradigm shift in water governance and planning in Lebanon.