The Middle East and North Africa region has a long history of coping with water scarcity, but the impact of climate change has made the problem even more acute. Balancing growing demand, as a result of the region’s rapid rate of urbanization, with diminishing supplies of natural water has made the management of water resources a top priority. Even a country like Tunisia, currently absorbed with managing a delicate political transition and creating an economy in which opportunities are more widely shared, cannot afford to take its eye off water.
Over the last decade, Tunisia has achieved considerable success in expanding access to both water and sanitation services, but challenges remain. According to Mr. Hlali Mesbah, director of the Tunisian National Sanitation Agency (ONAS), the growth of the urban population has put immense pressure on water reserves. In the summer of 2013, the greater Tunis area, with a population of 2.5 million people, witnessed the first cuts in water services due to shortages. Between 2012 and 2013, water use grew by 12 percent, mainly due to the increase of the urban population of Tunis.
Alongside urbanization, there is growing demand for water from industry and agriculture. The increased cumulative demand from all three is a challenge that can only be met through effective management of the country’s water supply.