An international report from the World Bank, United Nations, and European Union has declared the deadly flash flood that struck Libya in September a climate and environmental catastrophe, necessitating an urgent $1.8 billion for reconstruction and recovery efforts.
The catastrophe was caused by heavy rainfall from Storm Daniel, which breached two ageing dams and destroyed large parts of the city of Derna.
The report, released on Wednesday, revealed that approximately 1.5 million people, constituting 22% of Libya’s population, were affected by the disaster.
Shockingly, the UN humanitarian agency OCHA confirmed 4,352 deaths, with an additional 8,000 individuals still missing. The tragic incident has exposed the vulnerability of Libya’s infrastructure and governance in the face of natural disasters.
The collapse of the dams was attributed to a combination of outdated hydrological information, poor maintenance, and governance issues exacerbated by the ongoing conflict in the region.
The political divisions between the rival power centres in the east and west of the country hindered an effective disaster response, further complicating the recovery process.
The report highlighted several factors that exacerbated the disaster, including population growth and development downstream, limited weather forecasting, and inadequate early warning systems for evacuation.
Additionally, climate change played a significant role, making the rainfall brought by Storm Daniel up to 50 times more likely and 50% more intense, according to the findings.
The physical damages and losses resulting from the flooding in Derna and other affected cities, estimated at $1.65 billion, accounted for 3.6% of Libya’s gross domestic product in 2022, demonstrating the severe economic impact of the catastrophe.
Over 18,500 houses, equivalent to 7% of Libya’s housing stock, were destroyed or damaged, displacing nearly 44,800 people, including 16,000 children.
The report also shed light on the challenges hindering recovery processes, citing the “limited accountability and capacity” of Libyan institutions.
Weak coordination between rival authorities further jeopardizes the government’s ability to manage and monitor recovery funds’ disbursement effectively.
Despite calls from the United Nations for Libyan ruling factions to set aside their differences and collaborate on a coordinated response to the disaster in Derna, there has been little indication of their willingness to do so.
The deep-rooted political divisions continue to obstruct efforts to resolve the long-running conflict, including the holding of elections, in which disputes over voting rules and control of the interim government have stalled.
As Libya grapples with the aftermath of the deadly flood, the international community faces the urgent task of rallying support to aid the nation’s recovery.
If secured, the $1.8 billion reconstruction fund will be crucial in rebuilding infrastructure, providing assistance to displaced individuals, and addressing the long-term consequences of this tragic event.
However, the success of these efforts remains contingent on overcoming the political discord that has plagued Libya for years.
This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members