Tunisia 'cuts off water supply at night' amid severe drought

Officials have previously said move could help to reduce consumption in summer

An employee at the Sidi Salem dam looks at the receding water level in the reservoir. Years of drought across North Africa has left the dam critically low. AFP
Powered by automated translation

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

Critics say the move threatens to add to 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, but there were reports that supplies had been interrupted without prior announcement in Tunis, Hammamet, Sousse, Monastir and Sfax.

Tunisia is suffering a serious drought. Officials have said they may begin to cut off water supply at night over the summer to reduce consumption due to the scarcity of reserves in the country.

The continued lack of rain, however, appears to have led authorities to take action earlier in some places.

Yassin Mami, an MP, 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 1 billion cubic metres owing to scarcity of rain from September 2022 to mid-March 2023, said Hamadi Habib, a senior official in the Agriculture Ministry.

The level of the Sidi Salem Dam in the north of the country, a main provider of drinking water to several regions, has fallen to only 16 per cent of its maximum capacity of 580 million cubic metres, official figures showed.

Updated: March 28, 2023, 10:47 AM