Tunisian stakeholders confront IWRM and climate change challenges in national workshop

June 8, 2016

A National Workshop on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and Adaptation to Climate Change took place in Hammamet, Tunisia on May 31–June 1, 2016. Bringing together more than 40 participants from national and regional public authorities and agencies, the event marked the beginning of a series of workshops, trainings and activities to take place in the selected demonstration site (Upper Medjerda River Basin) as well as at national and regional levels.

The workshop, designed to accommodate a strong participatory approach, used a dynamic methodology that interwove plenary sessions, thematic group sessions (on water demand management, water resources protection, and climate change monitoring and adaptation), and working groups on the assessment of inter-institutional cooperation and dialogue processes in Tunisia. The workshop helped participants to gather vital data and information that will be analysed and used in follow-up, capacity-building activities.

The first day started with the welcome note from a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Hydraulic Resources and Fishery, Ms. Hayet Ben Mansour, director of the Water Surface Department. Ms. Jovanka Ignjatovic, the WATER SUM/WATER POrT project manager, set the tone for the day by introducing the workshop’s objectives and structure before giving way to the three thematic group sessions.

The WATER POrT international experts presented implementation methodologies and options for each thematic group, and then worked together with groups members to reach a common understanding of relevant information and metadata and of how to use them most effectively to achieve project goals.

The conclusions following the group discussions were the result of all participants presenting outcomes arising from within each group, as well as from agreed data collection processes and templates. The open-floor format of discussion also permitted participants from other thematic groups to comment and provide input for the draft outcome documents.

The “Inter-Institutional Dialogue and Cooperation” session was developed in order foster both a horizontal and vertical understanding of how different institutions have a common interest in working together — a concept that is central to improved and sustainable use of available water resources, and to effectively linking hard skills (the “technical” side) with soft skills (the “dialogue” side) in order to achieve a balance between both.

The participants split into four small working groups. Each group was set up so that none included more than one expert from the same institution. Each group was asked to develop a SWOT analysis to contextualize and assess the status of inter-institutional dialogue and communication processes for IWRM and adaptation to climate change in Tunisia’s water sector. Based on initial inputs received during the workshop, the project team will pinpoint those traits common to multiple groups. Tools and methodologies that might help to overcome differences and conflicts of interest will be presented at future trainings.

The results of the WATER POrT photo competition in Tunisia was also announced during a brief award ceremony.

Mr. Sofian Meddeb, Councillor Advisor, Head of Service, International Cooperation Department, and Ms. Hayet Ben Mansour, director of the Water Surface Department, Ministry of Agriculture, Hydraulic Resources and Fishery, each delivered closing remarks.

Ms. Ignjatovic closed by emphasising the launch of the milestone Water Growth and Stability Initiative (WGSI), and the upcoming Second WGS Conference, to be held in Tunisia in July.

Conclusions

In addition to the participants providing initial, useful insight on how to improve inter-institutional collaboration, the workshop produced several positive outcomes, such as increased understanding of the issues, recommendations on how to make improvements, and constructive input on how to shape forthcoming activities that will focus in-depth on: water demand management, water resources protection and adaptation to climate change, as well as on how these themes intersect with cooperation and dialogue processes in the water sector.

Key messages and workshop documents and materials will be published in due course on the WATER POrT trainings/Workshops webpage.