Lebanon: Water Shortage May Renew Feud

In Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, known for its fertile cropland, an old feud between two clans that draw from the same water source is heating up, according to a United Nations report.

Violence between two clans in 1951 saw the Tawk, a prominent Christian family, resettle closer to Oyoun Orghosh springs, where they developed orchards, restaurants and aquaculture that their rivals, the Shiite Amhaz, say violate water rights dating back to the Ottoman Empire.

Eleven people were killed in the conflict before the Hizbollah organization established an employment program for the Amhaz in 1991.

Now, population growth, outdated infrastructure and increasing temperatures are putting renewed pressures on the springs, leading the government to predict an 80 percent increase in demand for water in the next fifteen years.

All this threatens to stability of a region where agriculture employs almost half the workforce.

“The only people that can solve this problem are the government,” one mediator in the dispute said. “They have promised to invest in improving the water supply, but they don’t. They should, because tensions are rising.”

— Julia Hengst/Newsdesk.org


“Mounting water scarcity stirs old feud in Bekaa town”
IRIN (United Nations), February 3, 2009

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