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NASA to help Tunisia manage water resources through space remote sensing

(Xinhua)

13:10, January 31, 2012

TUNIS, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- The United States' space agency, NASA, will help Tunisia better manage its water resources, the official Tunisian press agency TAP reported on Monday.

A project funded by the regional center for remote sensing of water resources in North African states (CRTEAN) was launched on Monday in Tunis during a workshop with the assistance of NASA.

The project which will run from 2012 through 2015 will focus on the Gafsa region in southern Tunisia. It will later expand to other areas in Tunisia.

NASA's North Africa project chief, Shahid Habib, said that the project will enable the country to follow its water consumption, monitor its flood and dry areas, as well as discover potential underground water resources thanks to satellite technology.

According to recent studies, Tunisia is one of the countries most threatened by water shortage within the next two decades. It is estimated that by 2025, consumption of renewable water resources will reach less than 500 cubic meters of clean water per inhabitant, per year.

With 78 percent of water resources used by agriculture, the country quickly needs to find alternative water resources to guarantee its long-term food security.

Currently the country's water reserves are estimated at 2.5 billion cubic meters mostly stored in dams and natural water retention basins. However, rainfalls are expected to decrease by 11 percent in 2030 and 30 percent in 2050.

With the projected rise in temperature by 2050, water salinity will also increase notably in coastal areas. The funding of the project agreement was signed by CRTEAN and the World Bank in 2011.

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