Lebanon Businessnews News

Water initiative launched by civil society
Plan would cut water strategy cost by $2.3 billion
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Blue Gold, a five-year plan to optimize the National Water Strategy proposed by the government, will be launched by the Civic Influence Hub, on December 10, 2013.
The plan aims to prove that, if well managed, water surplus could reach 500 million cubic meters, in 2020. This could be done through the construction of a selected number of dams, the rehabilitation of distribution networks, reforestation, water treatment, the exploitation of under-sea water, better irrigation methods, and capture of rain water.
The CIH is a group of non-political, local businesspeople working around socioeconomic policies. The Hub’s CEO is Ziad Sayegh, former national policy advisor of the International Labor Organization. More than 35 experts in hydraulics, law, finance, and agriculture worked on developing this initiative. The CIH Board of Councilors is composed of nine members. These include Director of Hydraulic Resources at the Ministry of Energy and Water Fadi Comair, Naila Kettaneh-Kunigk, Farid Chehab, Assaad Rizk, Youssef Abilama, Elie Gebrayel, Wafa Saab, and Fahd Saccal.
The initiative was prepared by a six-member team, backed by 24 experts, among whom are Adel Cortas (former Minister of Agriculture), agricultural business entrepreneur Raphael Debbaneh, and Chairman of the Higher Council for Privatization Ziad Hayek.
Blue Gold calls for establishing an independent National Water Council that swiftly plans and executes projects.
“This initiative might be the start of a new mentality to deal with public policies by giving economic and social issues priority over political ones,” Sayegh said.
It proposes reducing the cost of the National Water Strategy from $7.3 billion to $5 billion, until 2020. It would do so by reducing the number of required dams. It also proposes reducing annual overall water cost per household from $700 to $380, on average.
Blue Gold proposes private sector funding with transparency mechanisms. The private sector’s role could include management contracts, investment, construction, distribution, and invoicing. Sayegh said: “Water resources will always belong to the state but the revenues will be shared with the private sector.”
Sayegh said the Hub is self-funded with contributions from board members.
Reported by Yassmine Alieh
Date Posted: Dec 06, 2013
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