Tunisia, like many other countries in North Africa and the Middle East, is facing a severe drought. During another hot summer, Tunisians will once again have to deal with the difficulties of water shortages. To avert a crisis, the authorities have already announced a series of restrictions. According to them, water supplies in areas of the capital and other cities will be cut off at night to reduce consumption and prevent shortages.

On March 31 this year. State-owned water company SONEDE said in a statement that water will be unavailable daily from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., effective immediately. Mosbah Helali, director general, said the country’s drought, caused by a shortage of rain for four consecutive years, is unprecedented. He also called on Tunisians to understand the decision.

Catastrophic effects of drought

Tunisia is grappling with the severe effects of the ongoing drought. Resources in reservoirs are depleting, threatening the public’s free access to water and leading to serious agricultural and economic problems.

Tunisia has seen its water reservoir capacity fall to about 1 billioncubic meters, a mere 30% of the maximum. The content of the Sidi Salem dam reservoir in the north of the country, a key source of drinking water for several regions, has decreased to 16% of its maximum capacity of 580 millioncubic meters.

The long-lasting drought is also causing problems in agriculture. The sector is very important to the Tunisian economy. About 20% of the population is employed in agriculture, which provides 10% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and about 10 – 12% of the value of total exports. Many farmers are struggling with a shortage of water to irrigate their crops, leading to lower yields and higher production costs. This year’s grain harvest is forecast to be dramatically low. They will likely not even be enough to provide seed for next year’s sowing – down from 750,000. t in 2022. Up to about 200,000-250,000.

Other restrictions introduced by Tunisian authorities

Tunisia’s Ministry of Agriculture has introduced a system of fees for drinking water and banned its use in agriculture until September 30. The use of potable water for washing cars, watering green spaces and cleaning streets and public places has also been banned. Failure to comply with the bans is punishable by a fine or imprisonment from six days to six months.

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