Libyans called it the eighth wonder of the world. Western media
called it a pet project and the pipe dream of a mad dog. The "mad dog"
himself in 1991 prophetically said about the largest civil engineering
venture in the world:
After this achievement, American threats against Libya
will double. The United States will make excuses, but the real reason is
to stop this achievement, to keep the people of Libya oppressed.
It was Muammar Gaddafi's dream to provide fresh water for all Libyans
and to make Libya self-sufficient in food production. In 1953, the
search for new oilfields in the deserts of southern Libya led to the
discovery not just of significant oil reserves, but also of vast
quantities of fresh water trapped in the underlying strata. The four
ancient water aquifers that were discovered, each had estimated
capacities ranging between 4,800 and 20,000 cubic kilometers. Most of
this water was collected between 38,000 and 14,000 years ago, though
some pockets are believed to be only 7,000 years old.
Gaddafi and the Free Unitary Officers seized power in a bloodless coup
from the corrupt King Idris during the Al-Fateh Revolution in 1969, the
Jamahiriya government nationalized the oil companies and spent much of
the oil revenues to harness the supply of fresh water from the desert
aquifers by putting in hundreds of bore wells. Large farms were
established in southern Libya to encourage the people to move to the
desert. It turned out that the majority of the people however preferred
life in the northern coastal areas.
Therefore Gaddafi subsequently conceived a plan to bring the water to
the people instead. The Libyan Jamahiriya government conducted the
initial feasibility studies in 1974, and in 1983 the Great Man-Made
River Authority was set up. This fully government funded project was
designed in five phases, each of them largely separate in itself, but
which eventually would combine to form an integrated system. As water in
Gaddafi’s Libya was regarded to be a human right, there has not been
any charge on the people, nor were any international loans needed for
the almost $30 billion cost of the project.
In 1996, during the opening of Phase II of the Great Man-Made River Project, Gaddafi said:
This is the biggest answer to America and all the evil
forces who accuse us of being concerned with terrorism. We are only
concerned with peace and progress. America is against life and progress;
it pushes the world toward darkness.
Development and destruction
the time of the NATO-led war against Libya in 2011, three phases of the
Great Man-Made River Project were completed. The first and largest
phase, providing two million cubic metres of water a day along a 1,200
km pipeline to Benghazi and Sirte, was formally inaugurated in August
1991. Phase II includes the delivery of one million cubic metres of
water a day to the western coastal belt and also supplies Tripoli. Phase
III provides the planned expansion of the existing Phase I system, and
supplies Tobruk and the coast from a new wellfield.
The 'rivers' are a 4000-kilometer network of 4 meters diameter lined
concrete pipes, buried below the desert sands to prevent evaporation.
There are 1300 wells, 500,000 sections of pipe, 3700 kilometers of haul
roads, and 250 million cubic meters of excavation. All material for the
project was locally manufactured. Large reservoirs provide storage, and
pumping stations control the flow into the cities.
The last two phases of the project should involve extending the
distribution network together. When completed, the irrigation water from
the Great Man-Made River would enable about 155,000 hectares of land to
be cultivated. Or, as Gaddafi defined, the project would make the
desert as green as the flag of the Libyan Jamahiriya.
In 1999, UNESCO accepted Libya’s offer to fund the Great Man-Made
River International Water Prize, an award that rewards remarkable
scientific research work on water usage in arid areas.
Many foreign nationals worked in Libya on the Great Man-Made River
Project for decades. But after the start of NATO’s so-called
humanitarian bombing of the North-African country in March 2011, most
foreign workers have returned home. In July 2011, NATO not only bombed
the Great Man-Made River water supply pipeline near Brega, but also
destroyed the factory that produces the pipes to repair it, claiming in
justification that it was used as "a military storage facility" and that
"rockets were launched from there". Six of the facility’s security
guards were killed in the NATO attack, and the water supply for the 70%
of the population who depend on the piped supply for personal use and
for irrigation has been compromised with this damage to Libya’s vital
The construction on the last two phases of the Great Man-Made River
Project were scheduled to continue over the next two decades, but NATO's
war on Libya has thrown the project's future – and the wellbeing of the
Libyan people – into great jeopardy.
A German language documentary shows the size and brilliance of the project:
Fresh clean water, as provided to the Libyans by the Great Man-Made
River, is essential to all life forms. Without fresh water we simply
cannot function. Right now, 40% of the global population has little to
no access to clean water, and that figure is actually expected to jump
to 50% by 2025. According to the United Nations Development Program
2007, global consumption of water is doubling every 20 years, more than
twice the rate of human population growth. Simultaneously, every single
year most of the major deserts around the world are becoming bigger and
the amount of usable agricultural land in most areas is becoming
smaller, while rivers, lakes and major underground aquifers around the
globe are drying up - except in Gaddafi's Libya.
In the light of the current world developments, there is more to the
NATO destruction of the Great Man-Made River Project than being an
isolated war crime. The United Nations Environment Program 2007
describes a so-called "water for profit scheme", which actively promotes
the privatization and monopolization for the world's water supplies by
multinational corporations. Meanwhile the World Bank recently adopted a
policy of water privatization and full-cost water pricing, with one of
its former directors, Ismail Serageldin, stating: "The wars of the 21st
century will be fought over water".
practice this means that the United Nations in collaboration with the
World Bank plans to secure water resources to use at their disposal, and
that once they totally control these resources, the resources become
assets to be reallocated back to the enslaved nations for a price. Those
prices will rise while the quality of the water will decrease, and
fresh water sources will become less accessible to those who desperately
need it. Simply put, one of the most effective ways to enslave the
people is to take control of their basic daily needs and to take away
How this relates to the NATO destruction of Gaddafi's Great Man-Made
River Project in July 2011 can be best illustrated by the Hegelian
Dialectic, popularly known as the concept of Problem -> Reaction
-> Solution. In this case, by bombing the water supply and the pipes
factory, a Problem was created with an ulterior motive, namely to gain
control over the most precious part of Libya's infrastructure.
Subsequently a Reaction in the form of an immediate widespread need was
provoked as a result of the Problem, since as much as 70% of the Libyans
depend on the Great Man-Made River for personal use as well as for the
watering of the land. A month after the destruction of the Great
Man-Made River, more than half of Libya was without running water.
Ultimately a predetermined Solution was implemented: in order to have
access to fresh water, the inhabitants of the war-torn country had no
choice but to fully depend on - and thus to be enslaved to - the
A 'democratic' and 'democracy-bringing' government that came to power
through the wounding and killing of thousands of Libyans by
'humanitarian bombs', and that overthrow the 'dictator' whose dream it
was to provide fresh water for all Libyans for free.
War is still peace, freedom is still slavery.
Sources and further information: