Water Forum in Kairouan: Water users as actors and co-responsible for water resource management and governance

At the initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries with the support of the German Development Cooperation “GIZ” and within the framework of participatory management and local governance of water resources in Kairouan, action plans have been developed and approved by and for the three active committees in Sbikha.

Dealing respectively with drinking water, surface water and groundwater, these action plans constitute a direct intervention of users in the overall process of the participatory management and local governance of water resources. Their objectives are, in fact, to be translated into the field with assuming responsibility by local resource management by the concerned parties themselves.

These action plans discussed and improved during the year in recent months have been approved at working meetings of all stakeholders that took place on March 11, 12 and 13. Each action plan will be submitted to the final approval and signature of various parties involved, namely the  representatives users and local, regional and national administrative structures in charge of the water management.

These various events and the presentation of these plans took place as part of the 2nd Water Forum held on Friday March 22, 2019, organised by the Governorate in collaboration with the Regional Commission for Agricultural Development (French: CRDA) and the GIZ under the aegis of the Regional Water Council.  March 22 of each year coincides with the celebration of National and World Water Day which is a symbolic event.

The 2nd Forum marks the beginning of the implementation of these action plans. These action plans are an extension of the participatory management charter and local governance of water resources in Sbikha signed by the same stakeholders in May 2016 during the 1st Water Forum and which made it possible to raise awareness that a change in water use in the region had become a reality and a must.

More than two years after the signing of the charter, these action plans include immediate action on the field and apply integrated and sustainable hydraulic resource management.

A complex problem is addressed by an integrated, collective and participatory approach of all the stakeholders, both actors and beneficiaries of the approach in question.

The action plans, submitted for approval to the participants in the Water Forum on March 22, 2019 are designed by water users themselves to protect and sustainably manage water resources to which they are closely linked.

These action plans are therefore a recognition of the participatory approach of the water management and governance at the local level.

There are a number of activities and priorities revolving around the need for better water use and valorisation within the limits of the water resources or to fight against the uncontrolled overexploitation of resources, by eliminating violations of the public hydraulic domain, within the framework of the urgency to restore the balance between water demands and available resources and avoid the exhaustion of water resources.

In view of these major challenges, coordination between the different public, private and associative stakeholders as actors and beneficiaries is self-evident.

One of the stakeholder representatives said that the signing of the action plans is not an end in itself but a means to precisely implement and apply the measures recommended and shared in such plans.

A major exercise for the different signatories to change their behaviour, which will certainly be challenging their own habits but also their real determination to implement these actions that they have themselves advocated in the primary interest of water resources and sometimes in the interest of detrimental to agricultural or management practices that are considered unsustainable.

This integrated water resources management company is part of the country’s new governance system, which has been in place since 2011. This new strategic direction of the country’s governance is reflected in specific provisions in the Constitution.

The right to water is guaranteed by the Constitution, which, in article 44, stipulates that this right is the duty of the State and Society. This is all the more true at the level of Kairouan or any other region insofar as the same Constitution advocates the right to participation of local authorities in the preparation of development projects is also guaranteed according to Article 139.


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