Dr. Chloé Nicolas-Artero, social scientist at the Politecnico di Milano, presented the results of her critical analysis of the use of non-conventional waters in Tunisia and Algeria at the Colloque International La politique de développement durable au Maghreb in Rabat, Morocco.
The international conference was organised by the IRD and Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Mohammed V University. Its aim was to understand the recent transformations in public policies in the fields of agriculture, fishing, mining, and forestry in the Maghreb. It sought to explore the paradoxes between the environmental protection discourse and economic development models that continue to intensify resource usage, leading to vulnerability in ecosystems and local societies.
The presentation offered a reflection at the intersection of sustainability transition studies and political ecology to shed light on, from a multi-scalar perspective, the policies for unconventional water production in Algeria and Tunisia. First, we assessed and then relativised the water transitions announced and initiated in both countries at the national level, given that the volumes produced through desalination and wastewater reuse remained relatively low. Subsequently, the geography of unconventional water allowed us to demonstrate how investments in the development of large unconventional water projects are concentrated in economically and demographically dynamic regions, relegating arid and semi-arid rural areas and perpetuating regional development inequalities. Finally, we presented a case study of the El Kehbir Basin, representing one of the marginalised regions where the solutions provided by the states are inadequate. The large projects installed are insufficient and often ill-suited, despite the potential for rehabilitation or the installation of small- and medium-scale projects based on rainwater collection or aquifer recharge (jessours, meskats, foggaras, etc.). Owing to the absence of a collective or state solution to address drought, inhabitants turn to groundwater extraction, contributing to ecosystem degradation. This situation highlights the lack of transboundary water governance and the limitations of the Northern Sahara Aquifer System program at the Sahara and Sahel Observatory.
The full reference, in french, is:
Chloé NICOLAS-ARTERO, Jampel DELL’ANGELO, Fehdi CHEMSEDDINE, Latifa DHAOUADI, Fatma KARAOULI, Omar RAHAL, Mohamed OUESSAR, “Les eaux non conventionnelles en Algérie et en Tunisie : une approche critique des transitions environnementales” at the Colloque International La politique de développement durable au Maghreb, Rabat, Morocco, 5-6.10.2023
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