The Litani scheme is one of the longest-running projects in the Middle East. Plans to use water from the river for the irrigation of 15,000 hectares of agricultural land in southern Lebanon were first drawn up in the 1950s. The first phase of the project, which involved the construction of the Qaraoun dam and lake in the Bekaa valley, was completed in the same decade. The second phase, which was shelved during the civil war and subsequent Israeli occupation, involves the construction of a 56-kilometre-long water conveyance system.
Phase 2, which is expected to employ 7,300 workers and to take about five years to complete, is itself divided into two stages. The first of these involves construction of pipelines to convey some 90 million cubic metres a year (cm/y) of water from Lake Qaraoun to the south. The second stage involves construction of nine water treatment plants, which will in turn be connected to 22 irrigation networks. A future power generation component and a plan to provide a further 30 million cm/y of drinking water to villages in the south are being envisaged as part of the project, but these elements have not yet been finalised.
Funding for the project has been made available through a $65 million concessionary loan from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and a $102 million loan from the Kuwait-based Arab Fund for Economic & Social Development. The government will finance the remaining $50 million.