The $20bn Great Manmade River programme will bring 6.5 million cubic metres of water a day from underground aquifers in the Sahara to coastal towns including Tripoli, Benghazi and Sirte.

“When the project was designed, it was expected to last for 50 years,” said Kalifa Mohammed el-Taiaf, an executive at project company the Great Manmade River Authority, in Tripoli on 12 December. “But the latest studies prove that at current consumption it will last 200 years.”

The fourth phase of the project is under way. It involves the devel-opment of a new wellfield in the Ghadames region in the west and the construction of a 620-kilometre pipeline to the coastal region
of western Jefara. The two main spurs, from the southeast and southwest of the country, are close to being complete.