Benghazi, the second largest city in Libya, is an economic and cultural hub overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Surrounded by desert and the salt-rich Mediterranean, its location naturally offers little access to the fresh water required for drinking and agriculture. This has been an issue that has long-plagued Libya’s northern cities, as coastal aquifers became contaminated with salt water.
Since 1991, it’s been the impressive Great Man-Made River (GMR) — the series of networked pipelines delivering water from ancient south Saharan aquifers — that has solved this problem for the cities of northern Libya.
What’s clear at first glance from this space-based perspective is the impressive pattern the city makes as it splays outward from the coast. You can also locate the Benina International Airport 32 km east of Benghazi, just beyond the city’s web of streets. That distinct circle you see in the second image clipping is one of the GMR’s water reservoirs. It’s into these reservoirs where the GMR’s pipelines flow, and from where many northern Libyans derive their fresh water for drinking and irrigation. For a detailed map of the GMR’s pipeline and reservoir network, click here.
Image captured by Theia, UrtheCast’s 5-meter resolution camera onboard the International Space Station.