Water footprint of Tunisia from an economic perspective

Water footprint of Tunisia from an economic perspective

Reference:
Chouchane, H., Hoekstra, A.Y., Krol, M.S. and Mekonnen, M.M. (2013) Water footprint of Tunisia from an economic perspective, Value of Water Research Report Series No. 61, UNESCO-IHE.
available at:
www.waterfootprint.org/Reports/Report61-WaterFootprintTunisia.pdf

Summary (taken from the above mentioned report):
In a country where freshwater resources are scarce and unevenly distributed, the choice of cropping patterns and
the import of food products can be important means to meet the need for food and lessen the pressure on
domestic water resources. This paper quantifies and analyses the water footprint of Tunisia at national and subnational
level, assessing green, blue and grey water footprints for the period 1996-2005. It also assesses
economic water and land productivities related to crop production for irrigated and rain-fed agriculture and the
economic earnings related to export and the economic costs related to import per unit of water virtually traded.
The total water footprint of production in Tunisia was, on average, 19 Gm3/yr in the period 1996-2005. The
water footprint of crop production gave the largest contribution (87%). North Tunisia has the biggest share in
the total water footprint of crop production (70%), followed by Central (26%) and South Tunisia (4%). At
national level, tomatoes and potatoes were the main crops with relatively high economic water productivity,
with a Tunisian average of 1.08 and 0.87 US$/m3 respectively, while olives and barley were the main crops with
relatively low productivity, of 0.03 and 0.04 US$/m3 respectively. In terms of economic land productivity,
oranges had the highest productivity, with 4040 US$/ha, and barley the lowest, with 130 US$/ha. South Tunisia
has the lowest economic water and land productivities.
The total blue water footprint of crop production represents 31% of the total renewable blue water resources,
which means that Tunisia as a whole experiences significant water scarcity. The blue water footprint resting on
groundwater represents 62% of the total renewable groundwater resources, which means that the country is
facing a severe water scarcity related to groundwater. Considering surface and groundwater together, the highest
scarcity occurs in South Tunisia (severe water scarcity of 78%), followed by Central Tunisia (significant water
scarcity of 32%) and finally North Tunisia (moderate water scarcity of 23%). In terms of groundwater, all
regions of the country experience severe water scarcity, with a scarcity level of 47% for both North and Central
Tunisia, while the situation in South Tunisia is even more severe, with a blue WF resting on groundwater
exceeding the renewable groundwater resources.
The total water footprint of Tunisian consumption was 21 Gm3/yr, which is 2200 m3/yr per citizen. The latter
figure is 60% larger than the world average. Consumption of agricultural products largely determines the total
water footprint related to consumption, contributing 98% to the total water footprint. The study shows that the
external water footprint of Tunisian consumption is 32% of its total water footprint, mainly due to food imports
from Europe.