Tunisia unveils new increases in drinking water prices amid water scarcity

Tunisia, grappling with the persistent challenge of water scarcity exacerbated by a five-year drought, has taken decisive action to address the pressing issue.

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The Official Gazette recently announced a significant increase in drinking water prices, citing the urgent need to manage water resources effectively in the face of dwindling supplies. Despite recent upticks in rainfall rates, Tunisian dams continue to operate at only 35 percent of their storage capacity, highlighting the severity of the water shortage crisis. In response to this ongoing challenge, the Tunisian government has implemented a series of measures aimed at conserving water and ensuring its equitable distribution.

One of the key measures introduced is a quota system for drinking water usage, which restricts the amount of water available for consumption. Additionally, the government has imposed a ban on the use of drinking water for agricultural purposes, recognizing the need to prioritize essential needs over other uses. Since last summer, Tunisia has also implemented nightly water cutoffs to further conserve water resources and minimize waste. These measures, while necessary to address the immediate water scarcity crisis, have also prompted the government to reevaluate the pricing structure for drinking water.

Under the new pricing scheme, small-scale consumers will not experience any changes in water prices. However, larger consumers will face increased fees, reflecting their higher usage and the need to incentivize more responsible water consumption practices. Consumers exceeding 40 cubic meters of water consumption will see a price hike of approximately 12 percent, with charges amounting to 1,040 Tunisian dinars ($0.333) per cubic meter. Similarly, those consuming between 70 and 100 cubic meters will encounter a 13.7 percent increase, resulting in a charge of 1,490 dinars per cubic meter.

The most significant price increase applies to consumers exceeding 150 cubic meters and tourist establishments, where the price per cubic meter has surged by 16 percent, reaching 2,310 dinars. These adjustments aim to encourage more efficient water usage among larger consumers while ensuring that essential water needs are met. In parallel with these pricing adjustments, Tunisia has also invested in water desalination plants to augment its water supply and mitigate the impact of climate change on water resources. These efforts underscore the government's commitment to managing water scarcity effectively and ensuring the long-term sustainability of water resources in the country.

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