Libya Floods: Aging Dams, Climatic Factors, and a Failing State

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In Libya, the relentless search continues to locate the thousands of missing individuals in the aftermath of devastating floods. The catastrophe was unprecedented, but the breach of two dams cannot be solely attributed to the Daniel storm. Local authorities and experts are pointing fingers at the systemic failures of a failing Libyan state.

The Daniel storm proved to be the breaking point for the dams, but it was only a matter of time. The mayor of Derna revealed that the last maintenance work on one of the two structures dated back to 2002.

Malak al-Taïeb, a researcher specializing in North African water issues, believes that the age of these dams, built 50 years ago by a Yugoslavian company, played a significant role in the human tragedy. “The weakened dam structures and the presence of internal cracks over the years compromised their solidity, increasing the threat of flooding.”

According to the researcher, the passage of the Daniel storm through Greece a few days prior should have alerted Libyan authorities. “Preventive measures, such as evacuating people to safer, elevated areas, could have been taken. It might not have been perfect, but at least lives could have been saved.”

These two dams were not the largest in the country, and experts warn that most dams are in varying states of fragility due to inadequate maintenance.

Soukaina Sghir

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