Sustainable Development in Africa & Satellites - page 47

a right for all
otable water has played a central role
in Tunisian towns since antiquity, for
reasons of hygiene during the Punic and
Roman period, for spiritual reasons with
the Muslim civilisation. Today although
Tunisia has attained the Millennium
Development Goals as regards potable
water—supply is complete in urban areas
and exceeds 90% in rural areas—there
are still disparities between town and
country. Voices are being raised in a re-
volutionary Tunisia to put an end to them.
The potable water policy was supported
by a strong social undertaking by the
government after Independence: ‘na-
tional solidarity’. The SONEDE (Société
Nationale d’Exploitation et de Distribution
des Eaux) was set up in 1968 and was to
apply an equalisation system that should
make it possible to supply water to all ci-
tizens at the same price. But people who
live in dispersed rural areas – generally
very poor – are not connected to SONEDE
networks. They are penalised by prices
higher than those in towns and sanitary
risks remain high.
In a revolutionary Tunisia constructing
democracy, voices rise to reduce local
disparities and place equity in access to
drinking water in the heart of the claims
for a dignified life. The constitution draft
in its June 2013 version sets out that ‘‘the
right to water is guaranteed. Its conser-
vation and the rationalization of its use is
a duty of the State and society’’. Citizen
voices continue to call for the improve-
ment of this text for, among others, also
include the concept of common heritage.
Sarra Touzi
Programme Officer, GWP-Med
CHAFIA TBINI, 25, volunteer in charge of a
public fountain at OuedSbaihya, Zaghouan
have devoted part of my life to water
since I was a child. As a little girl, I went
with my mother to fetch water from
springs and from wells in the wadis. It was
difficult and hard, especially in summer
and winter. Today, I still go to fetch water
with neighbours and cousins. Like me and
my two sisters who are 10 and 14 years old,
most of the girls in the douars (hamlets)
leave school very early and look after flocks
and fetchwater. Iwasa teenager in1994, and
a fountain supplied by piping was installed
not very far from our douar and I was very
happy to see a fountain for the first time. The
project was to serve 450 families distributed
along several douars in Oued Sbaihya. In all,
34 public fountains were installed to bring
water closer to families and lighten the
workload of the women and girls.
Our potable water network has run into
difficulties since it was installed:
- Because of technical problems, water
has never reached 4 fountains and 60
families continue to fetch water from
distant fountains, wells, etc. under very
difficult conditions;
-The price of water per cubic metre at the
public fountain reached 2 dinars (DT, about
Euro 1,1) in 2009 in comparison with DT
0,174 in SONEDE network (see opposite)
for the welfare category;
Public fountains were installed in rural
Tunisia to bring water closer to families
and lighten the workload of the women
and girls.
 Islamic engineers transmitted the piston pump
technique to Renaissance engineers in Europe.
Islamic Museum, Sharjah (UAE).
J-D Dallet/Suds-Concepts
Devoted to water
Water - 45
-Technical and especially management
problems caused repeated and often long
supply cuts throughout the network; the
worst one lasted from 2004 to 2009. We
had to buy water from bowsers (DT 5 to 7
per cubic metre) or get supplies as we had
done in the past;
- In August 2010, the Groupement de
Développement Agricole (GDA) of Oued
Sbaihya was attributed the management of
the network and rehabilitated part of it with
the help of the technical department. The
price per cubic metre was lowered by 25%.
However, the 60 families in the upstream
part still have no water.
-The GDA has made families responsible for
managing the fountains. The volunteers total
22 men and 8 women. I manage the one for
our douar. I have thekey and, at a timeagreed
to with my neighbours, I sell them the water
at the price set by the GDA per can, or more
rarely per tank. The GDA manager does a
round of the fountains to collect the money
on the basis of the meter reading. However,
for lack of means of transport, he does not
come very often and the electricity bill (for
pumping) is not paid in time. The Société
Tunisienne d’Electricité et de Gaz then cuts
the electricity supply and this results in cuts
in water supply. In spite of our involvement
as unpaid volunteers, we always come up
against the same problems.
With Noureddine Nasr
Programme Officer, FAO Tunisia
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