Critical Assessment of Groundwater Management Instruments in Tunisia: Current and potential instruments for better regulation of groundwater extraction
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Aymen Frija, Boubaker Dhehibi, Ali Chebil, Nicolas Faysse. (23/6/2013). Critical Assessment of Groundwater Management Instruments in Tunisia: Current and potential instruments for better regulation of groundwater extraction. Cairo, Egypt.
Groundwater is very important in Tunisia, where 43% of water currently used for irrigation is pumped from deep and shallow aquifers. Groundwater resources have been intensively mobilized in many parts of the country since the 1980s, causing its overexploitation. As a result there are nowadays signs of aquifer depletion in many regions. The total number of aquifers in Tunisia is around 273, from them 71 are overexploited, with an average rate of 146%. In the literature, many authors attribute the overuse of the groundwater resources to the lack of appropriate governance framework, strictly enforced and monitored. Thus the objective of this paper is twofold: first, we aim to present and discuss the typology of different groundwater management instruments based on current available literature. Some seminal works are discussed and summarized in order to provide clear idea of what we consider as “types of groundwater management instruments”. In the second step, a set of performance indicators, which was used to evaluate these instruments, is developed. Once this theoretical background is established, the second objective is to analyze and discuss different instruments currently used in Tunisia for managing the groundwater resource. In this case, a SWOT analysis is carried out in order to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the groundwater governance framework in Tunisia. Results of this study show that most of the economic and regulatory instruments in Tunisia, which are used to regulate the groundwater exploitation, are applied at the local levels through/by the Water User Association (WUAs). This means that the impact of these policies will highly depend on the WUAs performances. Moreover, at the national level, many decisions and policies targeting groundwater sector have been established since the 90’s, however their implementation and enforcement is still very weak mainly due to non-favorable political, institutional, and social contexts. On the basis of our findings, we conclude that the remaining action for enhancing the sustainability of groundwater use in Tunisia has urgently to rely on two main axes: the first is related to the improvement of the institutional (especially administration) performances, related to the control and monitoring of the groundwater, and to the effective law enforcement. The second is related to the change of the currently established ethical values of various stakeholders, especially the farmers. Ethical values supporting institutional changes, such as salience, common understanding, trust and reciprocity and autonomy have to be incorporated together with technical and economic issues related to the national groundwater management strategy in Tunisia