Citizens and scientists work together on water management challenges in the Rmel river basin
Climate change and other global developments are expected to affect the Rmel river basin. Local citizens are now working together with scientists to identify the main challenges ahead for the management of water resources, as well as potential solutions to adapt to changing future conditions.
Scientists from the National Research Institute for Rural Engineering Water and Forestry (INRGREF) are involved in the BeWater project and have organised several workshops to discuss water management in the context of global change for the Rmel river basin. Participants of these workshops shared an interest in the basin and included farmers, water user associations, official representatives, teachers, environmental NGOs, members of the tourism and industry sectors and agricultural unions.
In a first workshop, these participants identified challenges related to water management and discussed options to deal with these challenges. In a second workshop, these options were refined and evaluated.
During these workshops, participants highlighted water quantity, water quality, agriculture, forest & biodiversity management, awareness of civil society and human resources and employment as the most pressing challenges for the Rmel basin. As a result of the discussions, the stakeholders suggested 19 water management options. Promote new water and soil conservation techniques, use of water irrigation technologies, reduction of society pressure on forests and involving stakeholders in all steps of the study and decision making represented the most important options. This week, on 7 October, the city of Tunis will host a next event, during which the final set of water management options will be presented and discussed.
“We have undergone many aspects since the project began, from involving participants in all different steps through workshops and awareness campaign to addressing water related topics including water management options.” says Dr. Sihem Jebari, researcher and coordinator of the project at national level.
These challenges and water management options that have been identified will form the basis for an adaptation plan for the Rmel river basin. This plan will be elaborated during the next phase in the BeWater project.
Similar processes are carried out in three other river basins in the Mediterranean area, located in Cyprus, Slovenia and Spain. The four river basins cover different environmental and socio-economic settings within the Mediterranean area.
The BeWater Project receives funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration. The project aims to develop River Basin Adaptation plans in the Mediterranean through citizen participation.
Photos: BeWater team and INRGREF