Al Monitor : Water crisis threatens millions with thirst in Tunisia

A farmer holds a handful of soil parched because of drought in Tunisia's east-central area of Kairouan, on October 20, 2021. - All four Maghreb states -- Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Morocco -- are among the 30 most water-stressed countries in the world, according to the World Resources Institute. And as droughts get longer and more intense in the coming years, farmers will be the first to feel the pinch. (Photo by ANIS MILI / AFP) (Photo by ANIS MILI/AFP via Getty Images)

Tunisian President Kais Saied has called on the government to immediately address the water crisis in the country, where millions who rely on agriculture are facing the threat of thirst amid repeated water cuts and the disruption of work of the concerned institutions./Le président tunisien Kais Saied a appelé le gouvernement à s’attaquer immédiatement à la crise de l’eau dans le pays, où des millions de personnes qui dépendent de l’agriculture sont confrontées à la menace de la soif au milieu des coupures d’eau répétées et de l’interruption du travail des institutions concernées.

TUNIS — Millions of Tunisians face the specter of thirst due to frequent water cuts by authorities, prompting President Kais Saied to pressure the government into finding urgent solutions to the water crisis.

During a visit to Bizerte governorate in northern Tunisia on July 19, Saied denounced the water cuts: “It is 45 degrees Celsius and water supply is shut off while swimming pools and water bottles are full.”

Remote areas in Tunisia — especially where agriculture and livestock breeding abound — already suffer from water scarcity, thus exacerbating the crisis in a country suffering from economic collapse and a worsening political crisis.

This comes at the same time that Tunisia — like much of the world — is facing challenges importing wheat due the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Tunisia is already heavily dependent on imports — about 80% of its soft wheat is imported, with nearly half of that coming from Ukraine.

In the countryside of ​​the Faj al-Tamr area in El Kef governorate in the northwest, Fathi, 54, lines up to fill plastic bottles from a waterfall that sometimes dries up due to the large number of people using it.

“There is nothing that gives us pleasure in the country. We have even become deprived of water, which is the basis of life. While our animals are in dire need of every drop of water, the authorities sit idly by without taking any serious steps to put an end to our suffering,” Fathi told Al-Monitor. READ MORE