In August 2019, residents of the southern Libyan town of Brak al-Shati walked into the control room of the 400km pipeline known as the Great Man-Made River that supplies drinking water to north-western Libya and switched off its 366 pumps. Their act of protest exacerbated water shortages in the capital Tripoli whose inhabitants were sweltering in the summer’s heat and an increasingly destructive war.
The protesters’ grievance was that the town itself had had no water. As with all communities in the south, fresh water is pulled up from an aquifer 300 metres below the desert. Without electricity, however, there is no water and, unfortunately for Brak al-Shati, Libya has entered an everdeepening electricity crisis.