Thousands Of Fish Wash Up Lake Qaraoun Shore Just A Few Years After $55 Million Pollution Prevention Project

Lebanon Seeks $250 Million From World Bank To Fix Litani River Pollution

Lake Qaraoun is turning from a “source of life into a swamp of death,” warned the Litani River Authority on Tuesday after thousands of dead fish washed up on the lake’s shore.

Speaking to a local newspaper, one Litani River official said the fish may have succumbed to a seasonal virus. However, a local ecological researcher told the daily that he suspects the mass death was caused by a sudden rise in pollution-favoring algae.

Now, there are warnings that people are attempting to resell the contaminated river fish in local markets.

It is not the first time Lebanon witnesses this shocking sight. But many attempts to reduce contamination and pollution at the lake have been futile.

In 2018, officials from the Litani River Authority and the National Council for Scientific Research signed a pact to study pollution in the lake.

And before that, in 2016, the World Bank approved a $55 million loan for the “Lake Qaraoun Pollution Prevention Project” implemented by the Lebanese government organization, Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR).

The total project cost is $60 million, according to the World Bank, which rating of the project as of January 14, 2021, was “Moderately Satisfactory”. The closing date of the project is in 2023.

Dahlia Lotayef, the Lead Environmental Specialist at the World Bank and team leader of the Lake Qaraoun Pollution Prevention Project, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Lebanon’s CDR still has 535 current ongoing contracts worth $3.8 billion, which brings to wonder what the government organization has to show for it.

Last year, CDR was slammed for the destruction of the Bisri Valley. Activists were able to halt the Bisri Dam project after a long and tireless campaign in which they also cited the CDR’s previous project failures.