Tunisia, at the very top of Africa, is one of the driest Mediterranean countries. This year’s dry and hot summer all but exhausted the nation’s water reserves. According to reports, the nation’s rainfall is 28 percent below average for the year. Farmers lost nearly $US 2 million in agricultural goods.
Summer-long protests throughout the country were called a “thirst uprising” by the international press, as local residents fought for access to dwindling water supplies. Ironically, access to freshwater is a new right guaranteed in the revised post-Arab Spring constitution. Despite this, many poor and rural Tunisians face significant water shortages.
Tunisians have endured annual cycles of water surplus and drought since at least the Byzantine Empire. The nation of 11.4 million residents has a long history of water storage and water management know-how. But modern cycles of drought have gotten longer, with climate change threatening to bring even more dry weather to the northern Maghreb, north Africa’s desert region.