The crisis-torn nation of Lebanon will receive $80.5 million in aid from the United States, it was announced on Wednesday. The money will be used to build solar-powered water pumping stations and provide food assistance.
Samantha Power, the director of USAID, made the announcement while traveling through Lebanon on her way to Egypt for the COP27 U.N. climate conference.
Power will meet with Lebanese political figures during the visit to urge them to address the nation’s political impasse and implement a number of political and economic changes needed by the IMF to secure a $3 billion aid package.
The visit takes place while Lebanon experiences its worst financial and economic crisis in recent times. President Michel Aoun’s six-year mandate came to an end on October 31 without a successor being chosen.
Power opted not to comment on whether receiving any help from the US would depend on Lebanon implementing these actions.
“We are not focused on what happens if those reforms don’t happen. The reforms have to happen,” she told The Associated Press.
The prospect of an IMF deal “should be enough to end the infighting and bickering and do what is needed for the sake of the country,” Power said.
Up until this point in 2022, USAID has given Lebanon around $260 million. As part of a $2 billion global food security effort, Power on Wednesday announced an additional $72 million for food assistance to approximately 650,000 individuals over five months.
In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, food security concerns have grown in Lebanon, a country that imports a lot of its food and traditionally imports the majority of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine.
Power also disclosed $8.5 million to support 22 new pumping stations powered by solar energy. The debilitating electrical crisis that Lebanon has been experiencing has also resulted in water shortages, since pumping facilities lack power.
The public water supply limitations are causing Lebanon’s first cholera outbreak in thirty years. The majority of Lebanese currently rely on water that is trucked in by commercial suppliers; this water is frequently not safety-tested.