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Water for Rural Development in Tunisia

WHY LAUNCHING THIS PROJECT ?

 

            As predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Middle East and North Africa will be the regions the most affected by climate change in the upcoming decades. In Tunisia especially, climate change, combined with a rapid urbanization and a growing population, has put pressure on the already scarce water resources of the country. In addition, due to a lack of infrastructure, the distribution of water is uneven and rural populations face increasing water insecurity.

In this context of water scarcity and insecurity, the pressing need for long-term sustainable solutions is further reinforced by the unstable political and economic situation of the country. The unemployment rate has remained high since the Tunisian revolution in 2011, especially in rural areas, and further triggers inequalities and instability.

 

In order to provide sustainable solutions that address both water challenges and development issues in Tunisia, GIWEH has chosen to develop a project that focuses on agriculture. It is indeed a key sector, both in terms of job creations in rural areas, and of efficient and sustainable management and use of water.

The “Water for Rural Development in Tunisia” project seeks to help small-scale farmers to adopt innovative technologies for irrigation and organic farming techniques. The goal of this project is to reduce economic uncertainty while promoting climate resilience throughout the agricultural sector. Indeed, the project will address unemployment among the youth in rural areas and stimulate economic growth in a green and inclusive manner. A large part of the project will also be dedicated to enhancing the social network of farmers and workers in the water and agriculture sector.

The project is based on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Tunisia— specifically Goals 2, 5, 6, and 8. It emphasizes Integrated Water Resources Management, water demand management, protection against overexploitation, reuse of water resources, and sustainable agriculture with low input.

 

GIWEH believes that successful development programs must involve all the actors of a society, and should be used as tools to empower the marginalized voices. Thus, GIWEH undertakes a comprehensive approach that promotes social dialogue and rural development. Throughout the whole process, political actors, academia, farmers, religious groups, youth and women, are expected to cooperate and work hand in hand.

 

 

 

HOW WILL IT BE DEVELOPED AND IMPLEMENTED ?

 

            The overall project in Tunisia is divided into three complementary projects:

 

Project 1: the development of a sustainable economy in the region of Hammamet

 

Rising poverty, climate change engendering droughts and water scarcity, small GDAs unable to create sustainable economic opportunities for the locals, etc. The region of Hammamet, Nabeul in Tunisia has faced numerous interdependent issues that have rendered it prone to rampant insecurity and exacerbated risks of terrorism. 

 

In this context, GIWEH is working hands in hands with the Qatari Government, UTAP and the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture, to develop a project that mainly focuses on capacity building, the development of a sustainable agriculture, an effective involvement of women in the development process, and jobs creations for youth.

 

This project is expected to assist the local communities in developing a fruitful cooperation, and in positively adapting to climate change, while addressing the unemployment and despair issues. By doing so, the project focuses both on the development of short-term and long-term solutions for farmers to adapt to erratic weather conditions and to develop sustainable livelihoods, through the creation of small factories, start-up projects and cooperative.

 

Despite available lands, resources and agricultural viability, Tunisia has not open-market, which reduce economic opportunities based on exports. Due to this lack of economic opportunities, farmers have been forced to underprice their products, or to throw them. In light of this challenge, the project first seeks to create economic stability, through land reclamation and the development of a local sustainable agriculture. Second, it will develop business opportunities, through the creation of a trade partnership with Qatar.

 

Project 2: the development of infrastructure to support local development in the North-Western regions

 

Le Kef and Beja are two areas situated in the North-Western part of Tunisia, in one of the most fertile place of Africa, with a fertile land and abundant water resources. However the lack of economic opportunities lack of economic investment, lack of infrastructure and poor governance in the region engender issues of poverty, unemployment and insecurity.

 

In this context, GIWEH is working hands in hands with KRC, UTAP and the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture, to develop a project that mainly focuses on infrastructure and land reclamation. It targets vulnerable farmers, and includes youth and women, for a comprehensive dialogue among all the actors of the region.

The development of infrastructure, such as pipelines, channels and wells, and the transfer of technology to the farmers support the implementation of a rural green economy in the region.

 

After having identified the water challenges in the area and the necessary infrastructure to develop, the projects aims to support the creation of startup projects and ultimately the development of international investment and trade partnerships. 

 

Project 3: Groupements de Developpement Agricole

 

The GDAs, being the biggest agricultural networks in Tunisia, have the capacity to promote economic and social development in all the rural areas of the country. However, their lack of transparency and accountability prevent them from being efficient leaders. Their inability to create employment further exacerbate poverty and insecurity.

 

GIWEH thus seeks to create dialogue with the GDAs, in a sustainable way that promotes cooperation. GDAs are encouraged to train, adapt, work together and to compete with each others in a positive way, in order to create a positive emulation. Infrastructure, capacity building and good governance are crucial to conduct the project in an effective manner.

 

WHAT ARE THE EXPECTED OUTCOMES ?

 

            In consultation with the Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fisheries, a selection of managerial good practices, maintenance, and conservation of land and water resources will be documented as educational material. Ultimately, this project will train up to 60 Agricultural Development Groups members over the course of 12 months. This project will serve as a pilot to be replicated and expanded upon later based on its success.

 

This project will be embedded within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, emphasizing integrated water resources management, climate change adaptation and water efficiency on the one hand, and low external input and sustainable agriculture on the other hand.

 

Finally, by using the agriculture as a tool to achieve job security and a sustainable and inclusive economic development, this project aims to demonstrate how, through adaptive and resilient means, environmental challenges can be transformed into successful opportunities.