Improving oasis governance in Tunisia

Oasis in Tunisia

Improving governance to support better livelihood security and ecosystem management in the drylands of Africa


Oases are fertile land areas that occur in a desert wherever a permanent supply of fresh water is available. They vary in size from about 2,5 acres (1 hectare) around small springs to vast areas of naturally watered or irrigated land. Underground water sources account for most oases; their springs and wells are supplied from aquifers whose intake areas may be more than 800 km away. Oases in North Africa are threatened by the over-use of the aquifers (deep pumping for intensive agriculture irrigation), the disruption of traditional management practices and institutions and the associated social and economic problems.

The location of oases has a major role as communication routes for both biodiversity and people. The threats previously commented are causing enviromental degradation, rural abandonment and the loss of traditional knowledge. Today, peoples's livelihoods and their farming systems are under heavy pressure from a number of interlinked bio-physical and socio-ecnonomics factores affecting the fragile sustainability of the oases socio-ecosystems. The underlying cause of this degradation is basically the present governance systems and the poor involvement of local communities in managing these socio-ecosystems and their access to land and water.

IUCN-Med's role

The drylands programme of IUCN ESARO is implementing a project component titled ''Improving governance to support better livelihood security and ecosystem management in the drylands of Africa'' of the global project managed by IUCN Headquarters and funded by DFID Governance and Transparency Fund titled ''Improving Natural Resource Governance for Rural Poverty Reduction''. IUCN Med will implement the sub-component 'Tunisia Improving Governance in Oasis Socio-ecosystems in Tunisia' in the Kebili region and the Tozeur region of Tunisia.
Objetives and results

The project aims to work towards the following outputs:

  • Approaches for improving governance structures for better management of oasis socio-ecosystems identified.
  • Capacity of local communities, institutions and government bodies enhanced for more participative decision-making.
  • Lessons shared and experiences exchanged for sustainable collaborative management of natural resources and marketing of goods and services


IUCN members in North Africa and the Mediterranean and IUCN ESARO Office
University and research centers: Institute of Arid Lands of Medeninne (Tunisia)


UK Department for International Development (DFID)


Started October 2009

More info: [email protected]

IUCN-Med receives core financial support from the Ministry of Environment of the Junta de Andalucia, the Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) among others

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