Springs of water

Springs of water

The crisis in Lebanon is energy-sapping in every way. Phil Good asks where the living water can be found for the poor and refugees.

This picture shows what a spring of living water looks like in Beirut today for a refugee family.

By Phil Good in Lebanon

I tell this story not just to highlight the struggles of the poor but also to show how one crisis leads to another and how the layers of crises take so much energy. The right word is: debilitating.

Government electric

First I need to explain the electricity crisis. Here the mains supply, so-called ‘government electric’, has not really been functional for some time. It has now become so bad that currently we only get about one hour a day of government electric.

Consequently, most people depend on informal private generators whose thousands of diesel engines pump diesel fumes all over Lebanon. These will run for the evening and maybe some hours during the day.

The price of diesel has risen dramatically, as another crisis in the currency and banking sector has resulted in fuel subsidies being abandoned. This means that the generator electric is very expensive.

Our friends who are refugees from Syria with four children living in a single room have worked to solve the electric problem. By means of a large car battery and a charger they capture government electric when it is running, so that they can then run a string of LED lights and charge their phones. I don’t think they can run the fridge but it does make the evening more bearable.

Water supply running dry

Now the water crisis. Again this crisis has been brewing for many years. The infrastructure of the water mains in Beirut are subject to multiple breakages and something like 70 per cent of the water is lost due to leaks before it reaches the centre of Beirut. Combined with the lack of currency to repair pumps and fuel for generators, this means that especially in the summer the water only runs for an hour or two a day and the pressure is very low.

In our friends’ house the water is received downstairs from the government and then pumped up to a tank on the roof. But the car battery will not power the pump, therefore the pump will only pump water if and when the government water and the government electric are both working at the same time. This rarely happens.

grainy evening shot of water truck delivering supplies. seen from above
A water tanker delivers long-awaited supplies

The solution is always there in Lebanon – there are a host of small tankers who supply water direct to the tank on the roof. But again because of the rising cost of fuel, the cost of delivery has gone up dramatically. Our friends cannot afford a tanker of water which will probably only last for one week anyway.

If they could afford the generator bill then the times when the water and the electric were both working would happen more often and they would not need to buy so much water.

By the way, the water supplied by any route is not really safe to drink and so drinking water is usually bought in as bottled water wherever you live.

Water for life

So yesterday our friends were so excited when they got a delivery of water pumped into their tank, now they can wash the floors, flush the toilet and have a wash themselves. It makes such a difference, water is really essential to life and not just for drinking.

So although my picture of water coming out of the taps is not really interesting, it is a sight that brings joy to my heart.

Psalm 84 in verse 6 says “As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs.”

Before this verse we find it is talking about those people who find strength in God and in whose hearts are the ways of faith. These are the people who make the valleys into a place of springs.

This is our constant prayer that we can bring peace and joy into the valleys of hardship – not just our own valleys but those of the people around us.


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