World Bank cancels loan for Lebanon’s Bisri dam, effective immediately

The World Bank on Friday said it had canceled $244 million in undisbursed funds for the Bisri Dam project in Lebanon after repeatedly raising concerns about the project since January.

In a statement, the World Bank said it had notified the Lebanese government about its decision, which takes effect immediately. It said it has also repeatedly underscored the need for “an open, transparent and inclusive consultative process.”

The World Bank began raising concerns in January about Lebanon’s plans to build the large dam in the Bisri Valley, and put funding for the program under partial suspension on June 26.

Initially approved by Lebanon’s government in 2015 at a total cost of $617 million, the dam had long sparked criticism from environmental activists. Concerns about large infrastructure projects have spiked since the massive port explosion in Beirut on Aug. 4 that killed more than 190 people.

The World Bank committed $474 million to fund the project, of which $244 million have not yet been disbursed.