FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

Tunisia: Water accounting process is ongoing at the strategic basin of the Medjerda in Tunisia

Tunisia _September 2021_ FAO in Tunisia has supported the Ministry of Agriculture, Hydraulic Resources and Fisheries in setting up a multidisciplinary team specializing in water accounting. This national team will be responsible for carrying out the water accounting exercise in a sub-basin of the Medjerda.

Water accounting is an analysis of the current status of water resources at a specific site, and also of future trends in water supply, demand, accessibility and use. This analysis is a indispensable condition for good management of water resources and for having a sustainable water balance.

A multidisciplinary team of 15 engineers was composed from the Ministry of Agriculture has been set up, thus representing the General Directorate of Water Resources, the General Directorate of Rural Engineering and Water Exploitation, the Planning and Hydraulic Resources bureau and the Regional Commissions for Agricultural Development. A training and capacity building program for this team was carried out, in part, in partnership with IHE Delft Institute for Water Education between 2020 and 2021.

The program enabled the team to acquire complementary skills which, through collective work, allowed them to carry out accounting and water governance exercises. The training program was completed by a rapid water accounting work at two pilot sites; the first upstream of the Sidi Salem dam in Jendouba in the north of the country and the second, in a Nebhana sub-basin located in the center of the country.

From 2020, the team embarked on the realization of the Medjerda water accounting.

A strategic river for the country

The Medjerda is the longest river in Tunisia, it flows 350 kilometers inland. The river experiences an average annual flow of 30 m3 / s undergoing significant seasonal contrasts with a flow of 91 m3 /s in winter and 3 500 m3 /s in flood (Jelassi F. et al. 2015).

Agricultural land in the basin, almost 10 percent of which is irrigated, provides 51 percent of wheat production, 34 percent of barley production and 45 percent of beef and goat production, respectively. (JICA Report, 2009)

In addition, Medjerda supplies half of the Tunisian population with drinking water.

The River is under increasing pressure, linked to human activities, which threatens the sustainability of its resources. The climatic hazards worsen the situation.

The exercise of water accounting will make it possible to analyze the current situation of the River, in particular by identifying the issues, intervention priorities but also future trends in terms of supply and demand.

An exercise that will prepare for the institutionalization of water accounting

Beyond a simple exercise and at a more strategic level, “water accounting constitutes, for the team of the Directorate General of Water Resources, which coordinates this component of the project, an innovative tool which allows to complete the analyzes and work already carried out by our teams” assured us the Coordinator of the water accounting component of the project.

 "The results of water accounting provide a detailed understanding of the issues at the study site and therefore strategic planning based on scientifically validated data. In the long term, we hope to be able to set up water accounting at the national level, "she adds. “This exercise is just the first step. "

This activity is implemented under the regional project “Implementing the 2030 Agenda for water efficiency/ productivity and water sustainability in the NENA countries” under the regional Water Scarcity Initiative. This project is funded by the Swedish International Cooperation and Development Agency