The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) has signed a US$76M ODA loan agreement with the government of the Republic of Tunisia in support of the Water Pipeline Construction Project in northern Tunisia.

Tunisia has only 200mm of rainfall a year – one-fifth the world average. This extraordinarily low amount often causes water shortages. In addition, the volume of surface water available for human use is unevenly distributed geographically, with nearly 80% of surface water concentrated in the northern region. High population growth in this region means there is a shortage of drinking water and irrigation water during the dry season and it is therefore crucial to develop water resources in this part of Tunisia.

The proceeds of the loan will finance the laying of conduits and the expansion of pumping facilities and consulting services for the water pipeline. This pipeline, located in the northern part of Tunisia, is expected to provide high quality drinking, industrial and irrigation water to the greater Tunis area, which includes the capital Tunis and the surrounding regions. It will increase the number of people with access to water from about 4M to more than 5M in 2010.

Water-related development projects have become a major concern ever since the declaration adopted by the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto in March 2003. This declaration noted that priority should be given to water projects in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions in view of the dwindling water resources and the critical threat to living conditions, the environment and economic growth. The JBIC loan is therefore in line with the international move to strengthen efforts to address water-related issues.