Tunisia: Water Is Biggest Challenge for Ministry of Agriculture in Next Decade

Tunis/Tunisia — Solving the problem of drinking water and irrigation in Tunisia, especially in the governorate of Sfax, is the biggest challenge for the ministry during the next decade, said acting Minister of Agriculture, Hydraulic Resources and Fisheries, Mohamed Fadhel Kraiem, during a plenary session devoted to oral questions from deputies at the House of People's Representatives (French:ARP) on Monday.

Water is a real problem because of low rainfall, due to climate change, in addition to major changes in recent years, at the level of consumption habits, he said in response to a question on water cuts in Sfax.

It is now necessary to reflect on a complementary strategy to deal with the water problem in Tunisia, especially since the next four years will be marked by major challenges in terms of drinking water supply in many regions, including the governorate of Sfax.

Regarding the timeframe for the completion of the water desalination plant in the region, the minister said that this project will be launched from January 2024, specifying that this project includes 7 components, 6 of which have already been completed to allow Tunisian companies to contribute to the achievement.

In 2019, the water deficit in the governorate of Sfax was about 14%, Kraiem said, adding that several projects have been undertaken by the National Water Distribution Utility (SONEDE), including the drilling of deep wells to reduce water consumption, which has reduced the deficit to 12% in 2020.

The Minister reassured that his department is working to ensure a normal water supply during the summer season 2021, in the governorate of Sfax, through the achievement of two projects to supply drinking water for 6,000 inhabitants, for 8MD, improving the performance of 5 hydraulic systems, the release of 6 others, identifying solutions for the recovery of unpaid SONEDE.

The ministry is also fighting against the unregulated connection of water to the supply network, he said, adding that 50 unregulated connections in Sfax have already been eliminated. In this regard, he called on the hydraulic groups to coordinate with the ministry to fight against this phenomenon.

Water resources in the region of Sfax are estimated at 191 thousand cubic meters, against a daily consumption of 218 thousand cubic meters, a deficit of 27 thousand cubic meters per day, according to the ministry.

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