Tunisia cuts off water supply at night amid severe drought

Wednesday March 29 2023
Sidi El Barrak dam with depleted water levels

Cracked ground near the Sidi El Barrak dam with depleted levels of water in Nafza, west of the Tunisian capital Tunis on January 7, 2023. PHOTO | JIHED ABIDELLAOUI | REUTERS



Tunisian authorities have started cutting off drinking water at night in areas of the capital and other cities, residents said, in what appears to be a bid to reduce consumption amid a severe drought.

Cutting off water without prior announcement, in areas of the capital Tunis, Hammamet, Sousse, Monastir and Sfax, threatens to fuel social tension in a country whose people suffer from poor public services, high inflation and a weak economy.

Officials of the water distribution company contacted by Reuters declined to comment.

Tunisia is suffering a serious drought, prompting officials to say the ministry may begin to cut off water supply at night over the summer to reduce consumption due to the scarcity of reserves in the country.

No rain


The continued lack of rain, however, appears to have prompted authorities to start doing so early in some places.

Yassin Mami, a lawmaker in the new parliament, said officials from the national water company informed him that the reason for the frequent interruption of water supply in Hammamet city, was "because the country is threatened by water scarcity".

Tunisian dams recorded a decrease in capacity of around of 1 billion cubic meters due to scarcity of rain from September 2022 to mid-March 2023, Hamadi Habib, a senior official in the agriculture ministry, said.

The Sidi Salem Dam in the north of the country, a key provider of drinking water to several regions, has declined to only 16 percent of its maximum capacity of 580 million cubic meters, official figures showed.