WASHINGTON, June 11, 2014 – The World Bank today announced a grant of US$5.76 million from its Global Environment Facility to help improve the management of sustainable natural resources and promote the diversification of livelihoods in six oases in Tunisia.
Tunisia’s oases have always been important, both for agricultural production and as centers of trade linking remote regions together. Covering vast areas of land, they are home to as many as one million people.
“A number of environmental and socio-economic factors threaten to undermine livelihoods in oases, especially farming,” said Taoufiq Bennouna, Senior Natural Resources Management Specialist for the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa region. “We want to help prevent the degradation of these valuable ecosystems by encouraging local administrations and local communities to improve the ways their land and water are being managed.”
The proposed project will contribute toward:
- Supporting oasis areas, which are in underdeveloped regions with high poverty rates,
- Increasing agricultural productivity; and,
- Promoting governance, inclusion, voice, job creation, and sustainable growth
The total number of beneficiaries in the target area is estimated at about 4,100 households with 18,000 people, about half of them women. Together, these households cultivate a total of about 820 ha of land. Other beneficiaries include about 150 local administration and technical service staff in the governorates selected for the project, which will cover the following oases:
- Coastal oases in Gabes governorate: Zarat which has 400 farming households
- Continental oases in Kebili governorate: Noueil which has 500
- Mountain oases in Gafsa governorate: El Guettar which has 2,700, and
- Mountain oases in Tozeur governorate: a cluster of three oases with 500 households—Tameghza, Chebika, and Mides
A number of national institutions will also benefit from technical assistance and capacity building—the central departments and regional delegations of the Ministry of Equipment; Territorial Management; the Sustainable Development Regional Agricultural Development Commission of the Ministry of Agriculture; and the Ministry of Tourism.