HomeFeatured NewsTunisia will soon have a "Water 2050" strategy

Tunisia will soon have a “Water 2050” strategy

Tunisia has just embarked on an unprecedented strategic reflection on water, from the perspective of water security in the context of climate change. This is an issue of paramount importance, given that Tunisia is one of the countries most exposed to water stress and, to put it bluntly, persistent drought.

The Secretary of State for Water Resources and Fisheries, Ridha Gabouj, while stressing the importance of the recent rains and their positive impact on grain crops, particularly in the center and south of the country, pointed out that the dam fill rate had reached 27%, below the required level.

However, he considered at a Parliamentary Day on Water Security in the Light of Climate Change that the level of water reserves was the same as last year’s, without failing to insist on the way in which the stock was distributed among the reservoirs, particularly as regards drinking water.

The Ministry had connected many deep wells to the SONEDE network and was working on diagnosing the problems of groundwater supply in all the delegations, he added.

Tunisia, the 30th driest Mediterranean country

For his part, Fayez Moslem, Director General of Dams and Hydraulic Works at the Ministry of Agriculture, reviewed the reality of water security in Tunisia in the light of climate change.

He presented indicators and figures on water resources, both conventional and non-conventional, noting that surface water resources amounted to 2.7 billion cubic meters per year, while non-conventional water resources, linked to water desalination and wastewater treatment, reached 350 million cubic meters per year.

He noted that Tunisia ranked 30th in the world in terms of water scarcity compared to other Mediterranean countries. With an average per capita water consumption of 420 cubic meters per year, Tunisia is below the threshold of water scarcity, which is estimated at 500 cubic meters per capita per year.

In addition to water scarcity, he highlighted the challenges posed by the poor geographical distribution of water resources and the frequency of drought years, with the northwest of the country considered the main source of surface water. He explained that the Ministry of Agriculture is relying on the strategy of linking dams to ensure the supply of resources, particularly to large cities and the coast, where demand is high.

He also referred to the action plan approved for 2024, particularly with regard to the fight against water scarcity and the priority given to drinking water.

SONEDE’s plan for 2024

He referred to SONEDE’s plan to cope with peak consumption in the summer of 2024, which involves drawing up a program comprising 83 interventions in various towns in the Republic. In this respect, he emphasized the exploitation of available groundwater by drilling special deep wells in areas supplied entirely with groundwater, and carrying out the necessary maintenance operations by changing and renewing certain pumping equipment, also working to raise awareness of rationalizing consumption and saving water, in addition to two seawater desalination plants, including one in Sfax, which will be opened for operation before the summer of 2024.

He also spoke about the short-term work plan in rural areas, indicating in particular the implementation of 114 projects for the benefit of 148,000 inhabitants before next summer, in addition to dealing with the indebtedness of a number of water complexes.

Bottled water system to be reviewed

Rafik Aini, Director of the Planning and Water Balance Office at the Ministry of Agriculture, also talked about the strategic study of the water sector up to 2050. He explained that it aims to secure water balances and move from supply management to demand management, by adopting integrated and sustainable resource management.

According to him, this study will be based on the supply of drinking water as an absolute priority, depending on the specific characteristics of each region. A dynamic model that takes into account the pressures of climatic, demographic, social and economic influences, explaining that future water management behavior must be based on economic water modelling as a tool to aid vision, strategy and demand management.

He said that among the results of this study is the development of practical plans for the years 2023/2025, 2026/2030, 2031/2040 and 2041/2050, affirming that modern technologies will be used to improve sustainable food security, monitor water quality, control pollution and mitigate the effects of climate change, while moving towards agriculture that adapts to this phenomenon and works towards unification.

In the same context, MPs called for the importance of thinking about water quality, criticizing the bottled water system in the face of water scarcity and the way in which groundwater is exploited in the absence of state control. They also criticized the dispersal of interests linked to the water sector, stressing the importance of including the water system within the framework of a unified central administration.


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