Stretching across a distance of 1,300 kilometers, the Tunisian coastline is one of the country’s most treasured riches. And pollution threatens to destroy it. Every year, the Ministry of Health publishes a list of beaches where swimming is prohibited. The most obvious culprit is the National Sanitation Utility (ONAS). Water analyses indicate the presence of significant levels of fecal matter in the sea. But the government’s laissez-faire policies offer no incentive for industrial facilities to limit the pollutants they release into the environment.
One of the largest environmental protests Tunis has ever seen occurred on Sunday, September 12 when thousands of residents of the southern coastal suburbs formed separate human chains on their beaches in the neighborhoods of Ezzahra, Hammam Lif, Rades, Hammam Chatt and BorjCedria. They demonstrated against the daily sewage flow in their beaches where thousands swim every summer.
For its stopover in Tunisia, the Ibn Battuta Odyssey of Alternatives, a mobilization across the Mediterranean which culminates at the COP22 in Marrakech, set up camp in Gabes, although the boats had docked in Bizerte. Three days of exchanges and debates concerning an environmentally- and socially-destructive economic model and potential alternatives drew attention to the deplorable environmental situation in Gabes, and were marked by heightened tension following the death of a STEG worker who was asphyxiated by the fumes of the industrial zone. Report.
Built in 2012, the Meknassi waste water treatment plant in Sidi Bouzid has yet to commence operations, stalled by a disagreement concerning the trajectory of treated waste water. The proposal by the National Sanitation Bureau (ONAS) to transfer treated waste water into Oued Elben is contested by locals, who fear for the future of the ecosystem in a valley known for its rich biodiversity.