In May 2018, two scientists from the CO-MICC team interviewed 13 water and climate-change experts in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. A key result of the interviews was that the challenges facing the three countries are similar for the Mediterranean and Atlantic coast region in regard to their experiences with water shortage.
Interviewed experts came from national meteorological services, ministries concerned with water, national water supply agencies, basin agencies, university scientists and the civil society. The experts were very interested in participating in CO-MICC during the next two and a half years.
The situation in and challenges facing the three countries are similar for the Mediterranean and Atlantic coast region: they already experience considerable water shortage. Especially Algeria and Tunisia counter this by supplying additional water. Dams are already exploited to the maximum and will be strongly affected by climate change. Water transfers from dams to regions with less water availability are common (e.g. from the north to the centre in Tunisia, Algeria). A strategy to counter water shortage now and under worsening climate conditions is the use of non-conventional water resources (desalination plants, treated water reuse for agriculture, particularly in Tunisia and Algeria) and improved water efficiency (e.g. drip irrigation, notably in Morocco).
The impacts of climate change, such as extreme precipitation events and more frequent droughts and floods, are perceived as having been noticeable since the year 2000. At the same time, water demand is expected to increase in the future, due to population growth and a rising need for irrigation water. The situation looks different in southern Algeria and Tunisia: in the Sahara, water is used from the fossil aquifer SASS, which is not significantly impacted by climate change. Therefore, in CO-MICC we will focus on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of the Maghreb, which are expected to be strongly affected by climate change.
The current availability of data to experts (also from climate models) varies widely, depending on their domain of work. So far, the use of data from hydrological models is not widespread. Most interview partners have time frames for their work until 2020 or 2050, only meteorological services use data until 2100. Designing perception graphs helped to summarize and visualize the content of the interviews. Experts’ perceptions and data needs will be further discussed in the workshop to be held in Le Mans in December.