By Sami Zaptia.
London, 8 May 2019:
The UNDP’s Stabilization Facility for Libya (SFL) recently completed the installation of 70 solar powered street lights in Benghazi, 20 poles at the entrance of Benina Airport, and 50 poles at the southern entrance of Benghazi. The project was led by national and municipal Libyan institutions.
The UNDP says that despite the outbreak of violence in some parts of Tripoli, it continues helping national and local governments (east and west) to deliver services around the country, including in Tripoli, Sirt, Bani Walid, Benghazi, Sebha, Sabrata, Murzuq, Kufra, Kikla, Ubari, and Ajdabiya.
This includes programmes to support sustainable development and recovery in Libya through the harnessing of clean energy and the installation of solar energy. The solar lighting projects follow on from projects in health facilities to provide uninterrupted power supply at a time when many of Libya’s health facilities were facing power interruptions during critical surgical operations, as well as heating needs and refrigerating critical medicines.
Today, the UNDP reports that 15 hospitals around the country, such as Benghazi, Sebha, Tripoli, Zintan, Ubari and Rajban, are using energy from the solar panels installed by the UNDP. It reports that since 2018, it has been working with different Municipalities to try to replicate this system in other public facilities.
The solar powered street lighting routes selected by Benghazi Municipality are deemed to be the most-travelled routes which had been previously in total darkness. They are in an industrial area and are used by people driving back from work into the city. The new lighting has provided drivers with more comfort and safety, the UNDP reports.
The selected route also serves also the nearby villages of Jerdina and Budrisa. Citizens from those villages use these roads at night often, including to reach Benghazi Medical Centre for births and emergency cases.
The workers who installed the poles told the UNDP that the impact was extraordinary. “Everyday, people passing by that route thanked us for making this installation and invited us to their houses to share their meals, or have a coffee,” they said.
The UNDP reports that it has a budget of US$ 800,000 for solar street lighting and plans to install a total of 300 poles. It reports that the work is progressing as envisaged and that it expects the remaining 230 poles to be installed by the beginning of July 2019.
Despite the current crisis in Tripoli, the UNDP says that it is continuing its operations in Libya with some adjustment to activities to mitigate risks and support local partners on programme interventions. It says that it is able to draw on its vast experience in crisis situations to help Libya recover and develop in the long term.
The UNDP says that crises cause development regression in the short and long term, destroying economic and social progress, but that it stands ready to assist all Libyans and local communities both in terms of their immediate critical needs and to recover in the aftermath of crisis.
Through its SFL programme, the UNDP has delivered nearly US$ 30 million worth of projects since 2016 across 285 investment projects in seven target cities. Projects have ranged from restoring power grids and water and sewage networks; repairing primary and secondary schools and rehabilitating universities; rehabilitating hospitals and clinics; enabling municipalities to clear garbage from neglected streets; providing vital equipment, including ambulances to health departments; as well as providing for other municipal needs related to civil defence, public health and access to justice.