After an extended period of drought across Tunisia, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has issued instructions for regional administrators to work with Imams in praying for rain.
The call comes after a protracted period without rainfall, with water rationing in place in many parts of Tunisia and reserves predicted to reach critical levels by the fall if rain does not fall shortly.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, (UTAP) a shortfall in this year’s rainfall of some 28 percent has reduced water levels even more following a relatively dry 2015.
Further to low rainfall, the management of existing resources has also proved problematic. According to UTAP, Tunisia currently has enough water in its northern reserves to compensate for the shortfall, but this additional water was not being transferred to the other regions. The Vice President of UTAP said in a press conference yesterday, “2 billion cubic meters of water are lost in northwestern dams, out of a total of 4.8 billion cubic meters. These water resources would have solved the deficit if they were transferred to dams in the center and the south.” .
The impact of low rainfall has already been felt by the Tunisian public. In comments to Tunisia Live, President of SOS BIAA, Morched Garbouj said, “The impact we are seeing working around the country is water rationing in the regions. Sousse, Gafsa, and many places don’t have water at all, or at around 10pm water is being turned off.”
Currently, between 70 to 80 percent of Tunisia’s overall water supplies are earmarked for agriculture, with the remainder being used for domestic and commercial purposes. According to Garbrouj, a lack of water for farming will lead to a corresponding fall in production, “Tunisia is now a free market when it comes to fruit and vegetables, so whether you like or not, with less products, (available) the prices will increase… So the poor won’t be able to buy certain products this year.”