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Beja: Water scarcity threatens agriculture and life itself

As water levels in Tunisia’s dams have fallen, the country itself has fallen below the water poverty line. Water levels in the country’s dams are at a record low in comparison with previous years, at 28.5% of reserve capacity, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Financial Resources. This drop has had a direct impact on agricultural activities and contributed to soaring prices, while also causing interruptions in the supply of water used for irrigation and human consumption.

Sea in danger, contaminated by human and industrial waste

Stretching across a distance of 1,300 kilometers, the Tunisian coastline is one of the country’s most treasured riches. And pollution threatens to destroy it. Every year, the Ministry of Health publishes a list of beaches where swimming is prohibited. The most obvious culprit is the National Sanitation Utility (ONAS). Water analyses indicate the presence of significant levels of fecal matter in the sea. But the government’s laissez-faire policies offer no incentive for industrial facilities to limit the pollutants they release into the environment.

Tunisia Running Dry

For the past five years Abderrazzak Sibri hasn’t harvested a single olive from the 357 olive trees on his land in Sidi Mahmoud, a rural town in the province of Kairouan (central Tunisia). Sibri had planned to plant more olive trees, but lack of rain, several years of draughts and decreased ground water levels impacted production and changed his plans. “What bothers me most is that I have been investing in these trees,” he says. “When they finally reach the age in which they can produce regularly and abundantly, there is no more water to keep them growing.”

مشروع مجلّة المياه : ولادة قطرة قطرة

أجل البرلمان في جلسته العامة المنعقدة يوم 15 جويلية 2021، النّظر في مشروع مجلّة المياه بعد يوم من الشروع في نقاشه، بعد أن بقي مركونا في الرّفوف ما يُناهز السّنتين. ورغم ورود عديد التعديلات والتوصيات بشأنه، إلاّ أنّ النّسخة المعروضة على الجلسة العامّة لم تحظَ إلى الآن بالإجماع، خاصّة من طرف المنظمات والجمعيات المختصة في مجال المياه.

Tunisia’s Parched North

The highlands of Tunisia’s north-west hold the national record for rainfall. And yet the region’s scarcity of potable water is a nightmare for inhabitants. In the governorate of Béja, the National Water Distribution Utility (SONEDE) system stops at the borders of M’chargua, Zaga, Toghzaz, Marja Zweraa and Oulèja. The idyllic scenery–abundant flora, lakes and rivers that stretch as far as the eye can see—is in sharp contrast with the emaciated faces of perpetually thirsty villagers. Nawaat visited the region to investigate one of the most absurd injustices of independent Tunisia.

Meknassi : chronicle of a disaster foretold

Built in 2012, the Meknassi waste water treatment plant in Sidi Bouzid has yet to commence operations, stalled by a disagreement concerning the trajectory of treated waste water. The proposal by the National Sanitation Bureau (ONAS) to transfer treated waste water into Oued Elben is contested by locals, who fear for the future of the ecosystem in a valley known for its rich biodiversity.

Water Scarcity Initiative of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – to help countries in the region fight hunger and poverty and improve agricultural sustainability

The article presents the situation in Kasserine, but in fact the water problem and challenges are common in most of the countries in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region. Water scarcity is one of the most urgent issues and binding constraints for food security and agricultural development in these countries. Let us look at some striking numbers published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO):

Investigation: In Kasserine, Water Woes Drain Locals

After Kairouan in the center of the country and Sejnane in the north, we set out for Kasserine, where the rate of access to potable water for the majority of delegations throughout the governorate is less than the national average, a fact which exacerbates the plight of vulnerable and poor segments of the population with limited access to potable water at best, and nothing more than contaminated drinking water at worst.