A man sits on a damaged car, after a powerful storm and heavy rainfall hit Libya, in Derna, Libya on 12 September, 2023 (Reuters)
This oped was originally published at Middle East Eye
This past weekend, Storm Daniel hit eastern Libya, resulting in the worst flooding the country has experienced in living memory. At least 10,000 people have been reported missing, with thousands feared dead and many others displaced.
The storm caused the collapse of two dams, leading to massive overflows of millions of cubic metres of water. This critical infrastructure, constructed in the 1970s, has not been maintained since 2002.
The city of Derna was heavily damaged, with whole neighbourhoods wiped out and severe damage to health facilities and water supplies.
The pervasive sense of fear and panic was evoked by one resident during an interview with a local channel. He recalled hearing a loud noise around 2am: "We knew that the dam exploded, and within an hour, large amounts of water - about six metres high - arrived, destroying the main district of the city."
This serves as a painful wakeup call on the importance of investing in disaster preparedness. Libya has the longest Mediterranean coastline among African nations, bringing a high risk of damaging floods. The country also has varying geography, with large swaths of dry desert lands, and is vulnerable to the long-term risks of climate change....