Since 2011, the situation in Libya is tumultuous, oscillating between conflict and hopes for peace. The armed conflict – pushing the country in a state of crisis and emergency – has greatly impacted its infrastructures, particularly in the water and sanitation sector, when the country was already struggling with limited water resources exacerbating water poverty.

Moreover, the increasing natural hazard such as flood became in the past year, a direct threat to people’s lives, and water has become a cost and a burden directly affecting the population.

It was critical to undertake an in-depth WaSH need assessment on the country’s humanitarian situation in order to fully understand the needs, triggers and the challenges at stake.

Starting mid-2021, Action against Hunger (AAH) and UNICEF started to collaborate – with other UNICEF’s partners – in order to carry out a full assessment of the WaSH sector in Libya, in the east, west and south, in 17 municipalities targeting 388 households, 173 key informative interviews (KII) as well as 30 group discussions (FGD) sessions.

The respondent represented the different strata of the Libyan society including hosts communities, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), migrants and refugees.

The assessment started in August and the data collection was complete in early October.

Water and Sanitation

Nearly half of the population (40%) believes that the frequent power outages are the main driver of the lack of access to water. The assessment also highlighted that 31% of the population receives water through public network, while 45% of the population mainly rely on bottled water to fulfil their needs.

Water-related issues, such as color, taste, and smell, are reported by 65 % of respondents while only 5% of the population is able to treat its water before drinking it.

The assessment also found that residents who rely on bottled water for drinking water pay 69 Libyan dinars each month. Officials from the General Company for Water and Wasted Water (GCWW) and academics verified several instances of sewage mixing with drinking water, and professionals identified it as the main contributor of drinking water contamination in the targeted municipalities.

The main service provider of the country – the General Company for Water and Wasted Water (GCWW) – is perceived as not reliable in the management of the difficulties encountered by the households (75% stated delays in responses and 21% no response from the company). 78 % of the respondent stated that they have resolved to solve their problems by their own means.

Finally, in term of natural hazard, floods occur at least once a year in the three targeted regions during the rainy season. There is a lack of governmental capacities to answer those disasters resulting in injuries, deaths, and massive financial losses.


The vast majority of the respondent (94%) have access to soap and use it on a regular basis, while stating the importance of handwashing. However, only 30% of the population is connected to water network.

Finally, 29% of the targeted audience believes that 100% of the population in Libya has an easy access to toilets and hand-washing facilities, due to the fact, that mosques – which are found in almost every neighborhood across all of Libya – have ablution facilities and what is required to be public bathrooms that serve the community, even outside of prayer times.


  • Given the impact of conflict on access to water, sanitation and energy infrastructure it is urgent to rehabilitate WaSH infrastructure, as well as raising the knowledge of citizens to reduce pollution and rationalize consumption. 
  • When comparing the cost of water with the average salary in Libya, it is urgent to financially support the most vulnerable population to facilitate access to drinking water,
  • Providing solutions and strategic plans for municipalities in the ways of collecting and disposing of waste, as well as trying to implement plans for waste recycling, by exploiting the awareness of citizens in sorting waste at home.
  • In view of the assessment results regarding poor water quality, it would be valuable to increase water quality testing by certified laboratory, use these results to improve water treatment and share information to the population about actual water quality.
  • In relation to the above point on water quality, given the elevation of water table in coastal areas and the proportion of households relying on onsite excreta management (cesspit and septic tank, intervention to improve these cesspits, to ensure regular and appropriate desludging services.
  • Response from those who were assessed indicates the consumer’s lack of trust in the GCWW as a water service provider in Libya. Whereas 78% of them try to solve their water problems on their own before contacting the company.
  • Awareness must be raised regarding Covid 19, especially in light of the continuous increase in cases of infection around Libya.
  • Intervention at the school level is urgently needed with half of the schools not having water at the time of interview. Access to sanitation in schools is also very alarming: 21% of school’s toilets only are gender segregated which is a possible explanation for 13% of harassment cases. Finally, 49% of schools do not have handwashing facilities with water and soap.
  • Only half health care facilities are equipped with handwashing facilities (soap and water) which is very alarming. Excreta disposal in health facility also need to be improved with 26% reporting no access to toilets. Health facilities rely on expensive water trucking in 24% of cases.
  • The lack of trust between service-providing authorities and Libyan population must be improved, by improving response and problem-solving, as well as by supporting awareness campaigns on their behalf.
  • Building capacity of employees in the service-providing agencies should be a priority in assistance, given the very low percentage of those who received training.
  • Specific need assessment for health facilities and schools should be conducted due to the severity of the needs that we saw in the assessment process.


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