Tunis/Tunisia — The House of People's Representatives (ARP) adopted, on Tuesday, a bill on the approval of the guarantee agreement concluded on December 29, 2020, between Tunisia and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development concerning the loan agreement concluded between National Water Distribution Utility (SONEDE) and this Kuwaiti fund to contribute to the financing of the project to improve drinking water networks in urban areas, with 95 votes in favour, 3 against and 4 abstentions.
The loan in question is worth 30 million Kuwaiti dinars, the equivalent of 295 million Tunisian dinars. It is repayable over 30 years with a 6-year grace period and an interest rate of 2.5%.
It aims to support socio-economic development in Tunisia by contributing to the financing of a project to improve drinking water networks in 35 urban areas, spread over 17 governorates, namely Ben Arous, Béjà, Jendouba, Siliana, le Kef, Nabeul, Bizerte, Zaghouan, Kasserine, Gabès, Médenine, Tataouine, Sfax, Gafsa, Tozeur, Kébili and Sidi Bouzid, to meet the growing demand for drinking water.
This project provides for the construction of 15 wells, 42 water tanks and the creation of a water treatment plant in Tabarka and a deferrisation plant in Zarzis.
Work on this project, which will take five years to complete, will start in 2021 and continue until the end of 2024, according to the text of the bill.
Acting Minister of Agriculture, Hydraulic Resources and Fisheries, Mohamed Fadhel Kraïem stressed that "the country will face a very difficult summer in terms of water resources and that the next three years will be just as difficult.
He added that "water supplies have decreased by 43% this year, compared to their usual level", estimating that "the last two years are considered as drought years in Tunisia".
Cap Bon and the Sahel governorates, notably Monastir, Sousse, Mahdia and Sfax, will record this year a hydraulic deficit of 18% against 12% last year, due to the drop in the filling level of the Nebhana dam from 9 million m3 in 2020 to 4.3 million m3 this year, according to the official.
He stressed that some governorates, including Nabeul and Monastir will experience cuts in drinking water supply due to nightly regulation operations of the reservoirs.
The water deficit in the southeast, particularly in Gabes, Medenine and Tataouine, will also increase to 18% against 17% last year.