‘The Dates Are Drying’: Climate Change and Water Scarcity in Tunisia

harryjohnstone

Mansour Rajeb is wrapping a plastic protective sheet around a branch of dates in his oasis near the village of Bchelli, in southern Tunisia. Tying it up, he lingers.

“I’m worried,” he says. “The quality is getting worse. The dates are getting drier.”

Like thousands of farmers across the region, the effects of the climate crisis and water scarcity are threatening his livelihood. “When the quality is poor, we receive lower prices. I’m earning less. This year, I’ll earn a third of last year, which was an average year.”

On the road out of Bchelli, a gust of wind makes the sand rise like steam. Beyond the palm trees lies desert; a flat, barren terrain of scrub, rock and sand. Communities have survived here for thousands of years, but their changing environment and practices may soon make it uninhabitable.

Overall temperatures here have risen by about 1C since 1988, according…

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