Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Improving water distribution requires training in the field

Written by Michel Neumuller, MARSEILLE on Monday, June 20th 2016 à 17:15 | Read 753 times

TUNISIA/LEBANON/FRANCE. In Lebanon and Tunisia, water is a precious commodity. Proper management of its use, whether for consumption or agriculture, involves seeking out leaks, a knowledge of the supply network and having qualified staff in the field. Two North-South partnerships are leading the way.

Country of Mount Liban (photo XDR)
Country of Mount Liban (photo XDR)
In water supply optimization, and in a context of rarefied resources and conflicts over use, the North-South partnership model has proved its sustainability.
In Lebanon for example, the Groupe des Eaux de Marseille checks the underground pipe network for leaks, but above all helps to train the local SMEs that will undertake the improvement work. "We have just finished an assignment for Eaux de Beyrouth et du Mont Liban (EBML), the state water provider in the Mont Liban area," explains project manager Odile Demassieux.
Over a period of three years, Eaux de Marseille tracked down leaks along the 170 km of underground pipes, some of which were not even inventoried in the EBML's geographic database. Everything starts, therefore, with a review and update of the current knowledge base.
Locally, water is only supplied to homes for eight hours a day, with residents filling tanks to ensure a supply outside those hours. "It's difficult to draw up a comparative history of consumption," says Odile Demassieux. This makes it hard to distinguish when water is being wasted and when it's being stored.
During the assignment, which will lead to others covering a wider area, Eaux de Marseille set up indicators that enable its partner EBML to adopt a long-term strategy. "It will be vital for them to be able to distinguish between water lost into the ground and water delivered but not accounted for and therefore not paid for."

Coaching to stop water wastage in agriculture

In Tunisia (Photo SCP DR)
In Tunisia (Photo SCP DR)
If the domestic water supply is being optimized target in Lebanon, it is irrigation water for agriculture that is the target in Tunisia, this time with the help of the Société du Canal de Provence (SCP).

Under a partnership agreement with the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture, the client and owner of the public land being irrigated, "we are helping set up irrigating farmers' groups," says project manager Vincent Kulesza.

The mission involves 63,000 hectares of land, one third of the irrigable public farmland in Tunisia, and 15,000 irrigators. "The dilapidated state of certain sections of the supply network and improper use or maintenance are leading to wastage in some of the 32 areas irrigated," reports Vincent Kulesza.

And just like in Lebanon with EBML, the physical work will only bear fruit once the staff at the network management companies have been trained.

Awareness campaigns among supply network managers and irrigators, with then ensuing results, plus coaching "have led to progress in the associations, in their communication with users and in operational spheres and, ultimately, have improved plot irrigation," he adds. In addition, it has reduced the problems in collecting water supply dues, of which 30% on average go unpaid.

The most important element remains the appropriation by the supply managers of the resolve and skills required to guarantee proper follow-up. Seven persons have been employed to carry out these assignments.

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