It’s been very interesting following the Danish and Lebanese weather forecasts these past few weeks. Well, interesting for me at least, because I’ve been in Lebanon. Both countries have experienced very unusual weather for this time of year. While Denmark seems to get hit by one snowstorm after the other, the weather in Beirut has been perfect for a trip to the beach, despite the fact that Christmas decorations are popping up all around.
But while I’ve been enjoying the possibility to improve my tan a bit, it seems that many Lebanese have become quite fed up with the sun. Or to be more exact: with the lack of rain. Because the fact is that Lebanon needs the water. Badly!
Several years of less and less rain and snow combined with the lack of sensible water policies are drying out Lebanon. I’ve crossed a number of bridges where rivers are supposed to flow under. Now those bridges are still needed… To cross huge piles of garbage!
Lebanon has always been the greenest and most fertile of all the Middle Eastern countries. It’s Litani river is the envy its neighbors. And every year the melting snow from the mountains would flow through the country. Unfortunately, no one learned that just because it flows through you shouldn’t let it flow out. At the moment there aren’t any systems to collect all that melted snow and rainwater, water that Lebanon’s farmers desperately need.
But even in Beirut the impact is being felt more and more directly. The other day I noticed a new sign in the elevator of my building. The landlord asked us to be careful of how much water we spend or we risk having to ration. And everywhere a gross smell has slowly been spreading. I’d heard about this smell many times and even experienced it once or twice. But suddenly it wasn’t unusual for me to open my bathroom door and feel like throwing up. The lack of rain means the sewage system hasn’t been flushed through. And it hasn’t rained for months!
This weekend however it seemed that enough was enough. Lebanese, Muslims and Christians alike, were fed up with the situation and decided to take matters into their own hands. So this Friday all mosques had a special prayer in the hope that rain would come. The same thing happened in all churches on Sunday. And maybe it was this rare joint prayer that for once seemed to make God grant the wish of the Lebanese. Because Sunday night I woke up to thunder and lightning and by the time I was ready to go to school many streets in my neighborhood had a vague resemblance to the country’s rivers (it seems there may be several problems with the sewage system). But for once in my life I didn’t really mind the rain. Not even when I remembered the laundry I had hanging outside!