Libya’s “Great Man Made River Project” Could Stop Flowing

US F-18-C HornetsUS F-18-C Hornets preparing to “visit” Libyan military forces

When embattled Libyan leader Muamar Gadaffi completed the first major stage of his Great Man Made River project, many heralded it as “the 8th Wonder of the World.” The massive project began in August 1984, and the first water began to flow in September, 1989, to a reservoir outside the city of Ajdabiya.

It has carried as much as 5 million cubic meters of fresh water per day across the Sahara desert from ancient underground aquifers (see the amazing picture of it below). The project is now be endangered from ongoing warfare that could be at the expense of several environmental projects that were put in place by Libya’s strong but eccentric dictator.

Map showing stages of river project

The project entails bringing fresh water from the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System. This is a network of ancient underground caverns which trapped billions of gallons of fresh water into soaked, porous sandstone during a time when the climate in that part of the world was actually temperate. Animals like elephants, giraffes, wildebeests and other African species roamed there and were hunted by primitive peoples living in the region. Rock paintings of these animals, and the peoples who hunted them can be seen to this day in the “rock art” that is found in certain parts of Libya; especially the Acacus and Messak rock art paintings.

Libyan rock art: also in danger?

Scientists have estimated that these underground “reservoirs” may contain as much as 35,000 cubic kilometers of fresh water, which could turn much of Libya into a virtual oasis and provide more than enough agricultural produce for the Libyan people. The network of water pipes when finally finished, is estimated to cost around $25 billion USD. So far, Phase 1 and 2 are finished with two others planned.

Muamar prepares for rainy days

It was announced in the news  that the Libyan government is willing to make a peace deal with the rebels that would include a large number of government reforms, including more democracy for Libyan citizens. This would of course be on condition that Gaddafi remains in power.

The ongoing conflict is looking more and more like a “no win situation” as the opposing side doesn’t seem to have a governing or military infrastructure capable of taking over and running the country.

This is especially true in regards to managing the country’s chief revenue generator, oil, and projects like the Great Man Made River and desert irrigation agricultural projects.

In the end, the Colonel may be “off the wall”‘, but he may be smarter than most people give him credit for. For in the end, the oil must flow – American and other Western energy markets are still dependent on it. Maybe if allowed to remain, Gaddafi’s next eco-projects could be with solar or wind energy. He for one certainly has the “wind”.

Read more on Libyan eco-projects:

Libyan Revolution Will End Gadaffi’s Green Visions

Will Libyan Unrest Trash Their Historical Sites?Libya Touts Great Man Made River as “8th Wonder of the World”

Libya’s Pivot Irrigation in the Sahara Proves That Money Can do Anything

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8 thoughts on “Libya’s “Great Man Made River Project” Could Stop Flowing”

  1. solardiva says:

    If Al-Gathafi was the diobolical madman people make him out to be I am sure he knows as well as I do that the gas pipe lines running along the water line would only need one breech and there goes the drinking supply of water. Al-Gathafi is like St. George fighting the elite pretenders of the dragon court. Al-Gathafi greened the desert and fights against those greedy slavers who want to take the water and control it for profits.

  2. Alessandro says:

    Thanks for making me aware of this project. Unfortunately UK media doesn’t cover such fascinating sides to the story as this. It just adds more suspicion for me to how much vested interests in the country by foreign states are influencing the actions being taken by the liberators. Sure, it’s right that the ‘international community’ should step in where genocide is occurring, but there’s such a strong sense of hidden agendas. your comment “the opposing side doesn’t seem to have a governing or military infrastructure capable of taking over and running the country.” Surely it’ll be the ‘liberators’ (although they’re not calling themselves that … yet), will end up controlling these resources on behalf of the Libyan people?

  3. One_libya says:

    Nice article, i would like to inform you that, the biggest Oil company and the head quarter of the Great Man-Made River are in east Libya (Benghazi). And the last thing libyans want is gaddafi back in power because he will kill so many people

    1. What’s the status of the Great Man Made River Project now?

  4. Maurice says:

    Hi Gitanjali,

    It all depends on who the “landord” will be there when things get back to normal – whenever that happens.

  5. Gitanjali says:

    Very interesting story Karin. I would like to know about how this cld potentially block water supply systems to certain remote parts of Libya if you have any info on it.

    1. Dear Gitanjali, I don’t have any info on it now, but we are looking into this story.

  6. Sally says:

    I drove from Tripoli to Ghadames two years ago and the scale of this project is utterly incredible. Is it a vanity project for Gaddafi? He may be smarter than people give him credit for but let’s not forget how unscrupulous.

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