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Policy dialogue on: “Comprehensive assessment of pressures on water resources and its effect on the agricultural sector and food security in Tunisia”


by Aymen Frija (ICARDA)

On 10 and 11 May 2016, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) organized a policy dialogue in Tunis to share with Tunisian policy makers and other national partners the preliminary scenarios and results of ICARDA’s research on the impact of pressure on water resources and its effect on food security in Tunisia. Participants included representatives from the National Research Institute for Rural Engineering, Water and Forestry (INRGREF), the National Institute of Agronomic Research of Tunisia (INRAT), the Ministry of Agriculture, Hydraulic Resources and Fisheries of Tunisia, Ecole Supérieure d’Agriculture de Mograne (ESAM) as well as ICARDA and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

This research is being conducted as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) activities of ICARDA and IWMI, starting in 2015 through participatory design of scenarios and projections of water availability and demand in Tunisia and Jordan.

Projections of future water shortage and its impact on long-term food security has been conducted using two major tools: the “IMPACT” (International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade) model and the ASMOT (Agricultural Supply Model for Tunisia) model. The IMPACT model is a global model developed by IFPRI, while the ASMOT model is an agricultural supply model, specifically developed by ICARDA for the Tunisian context.
ICARDA Tunis workshop May 2016

The workshop started by a presentation of the overall framework of the research activity (by Dr. Karen Villholth). This was followed by the presentation of both IMPACT and ASMOT modelling tools and their scope to analyze long term hydrological scenarios at country level in order to support decision making on water policy (by Dr. Aymen Frija). Some preliminary simulation results have also been shared and discussed with the participants. These illustrative results were generated from the simulation of simple scenarios expecting decreasing water availability for the irrigation sector in Tunisia. Based on these scenarios, our models provide an overview of structural, national, and regional adaptations required to maintain a high value added agricultural sector in Tunisia. Results of the ASMOT model are disaggregated at regional levels of Tunisia, and can also show the impact of different adaptation strategies on employment and regional economic development.

In the second day of the workshop, participants were reviewing and refining the final scenarios which will be simulated by both IMPACT and ASMOT models. Presentations from the first day allowed the participants to better understand the range of drivers which can be considers by our tools, as well as the food security indicators which can be used to assess the effect of different water scenarios. These elements were extremely helpful for the discussion and refinement of the final scenarios which will be simulated by the project team. The final scenarios are comprehensive and include expectations about future water resources availability, demographical changes (which will define the water demand), Economic growth (which contribute to define the overall food demand at country level), and trends of agricultural and irrigation practices (strategic crops, water use efficiencies, etc.).

At the end of the meeting, Dr. Mohamed El Mourid, Regional Coordinator of ICARDA in North Africa, was calling for more cooperation between CG centers (including ICARDA, IWMI, and IFPRI) and partners from North African countries, with a major focus on water (and especially groundwater) management and policies. He stressed the importance of enhancing water security through appropriate policies, institutions and other instruments. He also mentioned that future water availability in North Africa has clear implications on food security in the region, which starts already to be visible during the last years.

Follow up actions. The participants agreed on the following action points:

  • To keep sharing necessary data needed to refine IMPACT and ASMOT datasets
  • ICARDA and IWMI to share final simulation results of the developed scenarios, with national partners
  • To further interact with the “policy drafters” of the national strategy WATER 2050 in Tunisia in order to communicate our final results and reports.

Please find the workshop agenda here, and the workshop report and list of participants  here.

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