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Empty dams threaten food security.. Will Tunisia declare a state of water emergency?

The economy of empty dams threatens food security.. Will Tunisia declare a state of water emergency? Updated Sunday 1/1/2023 10:26 PM Abu Dhabi time The Tunisians bid farewell to the year 2022 with disturbing images of the situation of dams empty of water, in light of the prolonged absence of rain, which is actually threatening water and food security. Since the onset of winter, spring weather has loomed over Tunisia, with record temperatures recorded last December that the country had not known in more than half a century, reaching a maximum of 27 degrees. Browsers on social networking sites transmit pictures of dry and cracked lands in dams that are devoid of water, or with minimal levels of fullness, which effectively threatens drinking water quotas for Tunisians and threatens farmers with difficult days. Tunisia is already ranked among the countries that suffer from water poverty. According to official statistics, the percentage of filling of the 37 dams spread across the country until last December was 25.5%, but a number of dams dropped to less than 10%. During the same period in the year 2021, the fullness rate reached more than 42%. At a value of $900 million, Tunisia is offering a subscription to contribute to the financing of the 2023 budget. Experts in Tunisia are calling for declaring a state of water emergency and reviewing current policies due to the large waste of water. Among the proposals are the development of new technologies for collecting rainwater and applications to determine the needs of farmers. “The situation is dangerous, and if it continues in this way, we will have to take measures that we will not announce now,” Abdel Salam al-Saeedi, the central director of the state water distribution company, told public television. In the period from September to December 2022, the water precipitation amounted to 110 million cubic meters, while the normal rate is not less than 520 million cubic meters. “The situation is difficult … during the last seven years there has been a drought in six years, including a continuous drought since 2019,” said Hammadi al-Habib, director of planning and water balances at the Ministry of Agriculture. As an urgent measure, the authorities began to give priority to drinking water by limiting water quotas destined for the agricultural sector, but this led to scarcity of some agricultural products and high prices. It also raised the prices of drinking water with varying tariffs, subject to the volume of consumption. Al-Habib said, “There is a great waste of water in homes and institutions. There must be awareness among citizens to save water because the quantities are very small.” The Central Bank of Tunisia had estimated to raise the main interest rates on December 30, 2022 by 75 points, to 8%, after they were 7.25% last October. The Central Bank said in a statement, that its board of directors decided, after reviewing economic and financial developments, to increase the interest for the bank by 75 basis points, to reach 8%, and the decision will enter into force as of January 2, 2023. The text of the statement stated: “The Central Bank of Tunisia aims, through The decision to increase the main price aims to contribute to curbing the upward trend of inflation, and returning it to sustainable levels in the medium term, to protect the purchasing power of citizens, and to preserve the stock of foreign currency. Tunisia’s economy in 2023.. government optimism and German support According to data published by the National Institute of Statistics (governmental), early last December, inflation in Tunisia rose to 9.8% in November 2022, up from 9.1% in September The past, amid the continued fluctuation of the abundance of basic commodities locally, and the rise in their prices globally. The institute published data indicating “the continuation of the rate of rising inflation in the local market,” reaching the highest level since the early 1990s. The Tunisian Central Bank indicated that “the trade deficit amounted to more than 25 billion dinars ($8 billion) in 2022, compared to 16.2 billion dinars ($5.19 billion) in 2021, in an unprecedented level of deficit,” according to the same statement. He continued, “The stock of foreign exchange reserves decreased from 23.3 billion dinars ($7.36 billion) at the end of 2021, to 22.8 billion ($7.3 billion).” And the Minister of Finance, Siham Al-Boughdari, had suggested, at the beginning of this week, that a final agreement would be reached with the International Monetary Fund at the beginning of the year 2023.

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