Repercussions of climate change on Tunisia, heavy Rain and Drought under Focus

Heavy rains in the middle of winter for several weeks and the decline of the fertility of some lands and erosion and disintegration of some species of plants and wildlife are number of climatic and natural phenomena that began to be described by experts some 20 years ago as the “new” result of changes that “hit” the globe and are trying these days to find more solutions in the Paris summit on Climate Change.

In recent years, Tunisians have been aware of the phenomenon of floods in autumn and spring and the unusual heat of some summer and autumn days, in addition to the occasional suffering of farmers from unusual precipitation in winter.

Are these aspects really related to climate change? Or other reasons? What awaits our land, our water resources, our environment and our future climate? Will the change continue or be reduced?

Drought, heavy rainfall and water scarcity in some parts of the country are natural phenomenon that have existed in Tunisia since ancient times and cannot be linked to a large percentage of what is known as climate change,” said Jamil al-Hajri, a Professor of climatology and geography at the Tunisian University. “Even for the years to come, these phenomena exist, whether in Tunisia or in the world, according to his opinion.

However, according to Professor Roger Stone (Director of Centre for Applied Climate Sciences), in all cases we must reserve all possible possibilities in the future, especially the ongoing phenomenon of urbanisation, which results in the rise of the large number of buildings, the decline of green areas, the high demand for water and the excessive interference in agricultural lands, which may turn them into areas of greatness even if they are in the north of the country.

Tunisian climate is dominated by natural fluctuations since ancient times and not only in recent years. Tunisia experienced drought in the 1940s in addition to other years because of the lack of rainfall which significantly affected the agricultural seasons in those ,  Professor Jamil al-Hajri said.

Another example is the abundance of rain in the fall or spring and winter shows that this phenomenon is not new to us, as our parents and grandparents.

Over the last century, our country was characterized by heavy rainfall, whether in autumn, winter or spring, and continues sometimes for a period of time. They were also eyewitnesses to the occasional rainfall for a month throughout winter.

At the time they suffered especially from the drought, the decline of their agricultural crops and the difficulties in providing food.

On the other hand, according to Mr. Jamil al-Hajri Tunisia is characterized by a remarkable disparity between its destinations in the water potentials. The northern regions have surplus water and the central regions are less than those of the south and suffer from water scarcity. This is normal and man in ancient time understands it and reaches solutions for water delivery from the excess areas to the missing, for example «Aqueduc» to transport water from Zaghouan to the capital.

The modern man continued to work hard and cope with the situation in modern Tunisia, for example, Oued Majerda is used to deliver water from the north to the central and south. Besides dams were established in the very northern regions itself, in addition to the technique of mountain lakes, which gave fruit even in the central and southern in addition to treated water technology to cover some of the shortcomings in water, especially in agricultural use and also to irrigation technique drop.

According to Professor Jamil Al-Hajri, Tunisia’s experience in this field is a pioneer and should be monitored. These techniques must continue as the years progress to confront these water differences because they are natural and lasting as long as nature is continuing to blossom and we may not talk about the impact of climate change in this field.

According to experts, the water balance achieved in Tunisia will continue until 2030. However, the balance will inevitably be affected not by climate change but by the high demand for water and the imbalance between water availability and need, especially in the agricultural sector. Attention should be given to this expected change in Tunisia by the year 2030 in the field of water and prepare for it from now and the transformation will not only concerns the quantitative but also qualitative level.

It is true that the phenomenon of heavy rains has been known by our country since immemorial time. However, these rains had little effect in causing floods. The floods, according to Environmentalists, are not linked to the abundance of rainfall because the normal natural balance allows the land and the mountains to absorb all the rainwater but it is mainly related to the changes made by man on land, seas and natural lakes.

The construction of the water-collecting areas, the valleys, the overfilling of vast areas of land and their covering with buildings, dams, lakes, the sea and the valleys are all the causes of floods in Tunisia especially after every heavy rainfall, which is natural and normal in nature. abnormal and extraordinary for humans when it causes flooding.

The large number of buildings and pollution of all kinds will increase the rise of heat. So, man feels the warmth at its peak but according to Professor Stone, the uncertainty between the causes of these elements (buildings pollution) and high temperature is not stable.  What scientists have noticed is only the rise to one degree or two degrees in temperature between 1931 and 1960 and from 1961 to 1990 and then observed a slight increase since 1990.

But will this continue in the coming years? This is what remains uncertain and what will be the human intervention? 

TunisianMonitorOnline (By Seyf Mrabet)

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