Tunisia: Water Rationing to Begin as Drought Threatens Potable Supply

by | Mar 31, 2023 | Economic, Social, Tunisia


On 31 March 2023, the head of SONEDE, the government agency responsible for the water distribution system, announced on a radio program that water rationing would begin across the country. SONEDE’s President, Mesbah al-Hilali announced that water demand has risen early this year with warm weather already arriving in Tunisia, prompting the decision to move toward rationing.

SONEDE’s announcement indicated that water supplies would generally stop at 9:00 pm and become available again at 4:00 am. Hilali indicated that the rationing would likely continue until September.

The announcement further indicated that the use of potable water is forbidden for irrigating farmland and green spaces, washing cars, or street cleaning. Fines and prison sentences will be considered in the case of violations.

Tunisia has experienced multiple years of lower-than-average rainfall and this year’s agricultural harvest is at risk. At present, the country’s major water reservoirs are at precariously low levels, with some as low as 15% of their typical capacity.

Meanwhile, SONEDE has recently signed an agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to enhance SONEDE’s capabilities in managing Tunisia’s water system. The project will focus on Sfax and several specific disciplines in the water management field.


While the government is now taking proactive steps to address the water shortage heading into the summer, Tunisia’s water crisis still has the potential to be highly disruptive. Rural communities especially could experience significant economic impacts and resultant unrest is possible.

Additionally, disruptions heading into the summer months could stoke frustrations among Tunisians already pinched by rising prices and stagnant employment. While tourist zones will likely be the last areas to be impacted by water cuts, unexpected cuts at hotels could result in the long-term loss of tourism revenue.

Our team is monitoring developments related to the water supply and the very real potential impacts on the security and risk environment in Tunisia.


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