Tunisia is a country concerned by water scarcity for multiple reasons including arid climate, highly variable rainfall, low levels of groundwater, industrialisation, urbanisation and a previous over-exploitation of water resources.
The national economy depends heavily on irrigated agriculture, as 30-40% of overall agricultural output, and is heavily linked to food security for an ever-increasing population. Such agricultural methods consume approximately 80% of available water resources.
In 1986, following recommendations of an Agricultural Structural Adjustment Program, a series of large scale irrigation policy reforms were implemented with the aim of conserving water resources and encouraging demand management in the irrigation sector, with greater technical co-operation between farmers.
Law no. 99-43 and Decree no. 99-1819, both from 1999, created Water Users Associations (WUAs), or ‘Groupement de développement Agricole’ (GDA), linking together all local farmers within a certain irrigated area, increasing their technical expertise in decision-making, reducing resource management costs and inviting direct public participation, with successful results as mirrored across the Mediterranean and North African region. Read more