Demonstrators staged a protest outside World Bank offices in Lebanon’s capital Monday over its key role in financing a controversial dam project that environmentalists say will destroy a valley rich in biodiversity.

“Bisri Dam = Destruction, Pollution, Earthquakes” and “Save The Bisri Valley”, read banners and posters carried by the dozens of demonstrators gathered in downtown Beirut.

The dam to be built in the valley 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital aims to supply drinking water as well as irrigation for 1.6 million residents.

Environmentalists and local farmers dispute assurances from the government and World Bank, the main financier with a loan of $474 million, that the dam to be built on a seismic fault line does not increase the risk of earthquakes.

“The World Bank is financing a project which will cause an ecological massacre and expel residents from their region,” said Boutros Salim, a 54-year-old demonstrator.

Agence France Presse