FTDES calls on government to speed up adoption of water code

The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES) called on the government to accelerate the adoption of the pending water code to address the water crisis facing Tunisia.

In a note entitled “The water crisis in Tunisia: poor management of water resources exposes the country to water stress”, published in early January 2023, the Forum stressed the need to include in this code the right to water as “a fundamental right”, giving priority to domestic use.

This text, underlines the FTDES, must provide an article on the protection of conventional water resources, including groundwater whose volume of exploitation amounts to more than 125% in the southern regions.

According to the organisation, this measure would tighten the conditions for granting permission to drill wells and fight against illegal wells estimated at 19 thousand units in 2019.

Moreover, it stressed the need to end the “executive anarchy” and limit the number of stakeholders in the sector.

It has, as such, suggested to create a ministry dedicated strictly to the water sector, which will have the task of overseeing the various structures involved.

Referring to the agricultural sector, the forum considered it essential to develop a new agricultural plan that takes into account the specificity of each region and the profitability of crops. Faced with a sector that consumes nearly 80% of water resources without ensuring food self-sufficiency, it is imperative, said the Forum, to reduce agricultural crops that consume a lot of water as citrus and fruit.

// The obsolescence of Sonede’s networks leads to a loss of 30% of the volume of water per year //

As for industry, the FTDES deplored the lack of a national strategy to control the water used in the sector, citing the example of textiles, whose wastewater has damaged entire areas.

In this regard, it deplored the lack of mechanisms to recycle these waters, calling to apply “the principle of polluter pays.

Regarding the tourism sector, the Forum noted that hotels and tourist facilities, which host millions of tourists each year, are places of waste of water. The State is therefore called to resort to unconventional resources in this sector as the desalination of sea water, said the same source.

On the logistical side, the Forum suggested doubling the storage capacity to reach at least 20% of the total rainfall which exceeds 36 billion m3, to help Tunisia cope with water stress.

However, this measure remains dependent on the ability of the country to develop new dams and rehabilitate those that are outdated, it adds.

Regarding the technical component, the forum called for the establishment of an operational plan to reduce the loss of drinking water and irrigation (400 million m3 per year) due to the dilapidated distribution networks of the National Water Distribution Utility (SONEDE).

The degradation of these networks leads to a loss of 30% of the volume of water distributed by SONEDE each year, notes FTDES, stressing the importance of rehabilitating these channels.

Source: Tap News Agency