Tunisia under the rule of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali had a very “fake” stance on climate change and environmental protection. This all changed when in 2011 during the Jasmine Revolution, one of the many uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa during the Arab Spring, the Tunisian people in their movement towards democracy, took a firm stance on climate change.
Currently Tunisia is one of only three nations to include climate change and the environment in their constitution. This provision makes the Tunisian constitution one of the most progressive in the region.
Tunisia has been greatly affected by global warming and its impacts are felt by nearly all of its citizens. The documentary “A Siege of Salt and Sand” gives firsthand accounts of those most affected by recent climate change. The film first looks to the coast. Tunisia, located on the coast of the Mediterranean in North Africa relies heavily on fishing and other related industries. These fishermen are having their source of income destroyed by overfishing and sea level rise. Further, port cities and towns are at risk of being swallowed by the sea as the sea level is rising more rapidly than ever before. The effects are already being felt on beachfront property most notably hotels and resorts. One area they focused primarily on was the Island of Djerba. Located just off the coast in eastern Tunisia. This region faces the threat of being reduced to inlets.
(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)
Another major issue facing the island of Djerba and across Tunisia is the lack of rainfall. In some regions it has been over 12 months since the last rain and when it does come it lasts less than 20 minutes. Ultimately this is leading to increased rates of desertification and shortages of water. Farmers and herders have taken a huge hit as it costs a great deal of money to buy water and many are moving to urban areas simply because they cannot make any money without water.
This is a huge issue as the desert overtakes houses and sand dunes continue to advance across the country. The solution to this growing problem is to construct a wall stopping the advance of the desert and to dig deep wells to provide water to the people. This is a slow process and despite the new government’s mention of environmental protection in their constitution, is not being done fast enough much to the despair of the locals who are directly affected by this.
(Image courtesy of Carbon-Based blog)