this resource and of the need to better protect it.
Demand management, as demonstrated in the case of Tunis and in irrigated areas, has proven effective and is likely to become more and more necessary to rationalize the use of water resources and to assure their long term availability. Demand management has been supported by judicial tools. Thus, the water code of 1975 permits central and regional public services to manage the resource by issuing authorization, establishing zones of safeguard and of interdiction, and controlling the management of water sources. In Tunisia, the coverage of the country was determined by the Regional Master Plans, integrating the homogeneous hydrographic basins: North, Central and South. Furthermore, regional master plans for rural drinking water covering each administrative unit have been established and have helped to improve access to safe water in rural areas. All the water development projects have been carried out, are being carried out or will be within the framework of these master plans, of which several are currently being completed.
To manage the water sector, Tunisia has developed a long term action plan. This plan allows the country to estimate water use 20 years in advance. This action plan, in addition to demand management programs, defines measures that permit technology to preserve, protect and conserve water resources and to develop new conventional and non-conventional resources.
Tunisia has conducted studies of the water sector, with a time horizon set at 2030. Several technical and socio-economical studies have been undertaken so the country may develop action plans and interventions to meet evolving water needs, allowing economic and social growth.
Thanks to the adoption of rational and modern management of its water resources, Tunisia, despite the scarcity of its water resource, has been able to develop its agricultural and economic sectors linked to the water resource in a sustainable manner. In the long-term future, all residents in both the cities and villages will have access to drinking water. Agriculture, which consumes 80% of natural water resources, has adopted a modern distribution system using water conservation and water reuse, attaining 20% artifical recharge in response to water and soil conservation projects, dams, and collinear lakes. The strategy of water resource mobilization and use constitutes an essential component of the economic and social development of Tunisia.
This strategy assures the security of food supplies, improves the quality of urban, rural and Saharian life and assures water supplies in the industrial and tourist sectors, while respecting the limited capacities of the ecosystems. It guarantees the continuity of exploitation of the resource while encouraging a larger participation of users in its management. This strategy integrates the management of surface and ground water resources as well as natural and non-conventional resources; and has set in place a mechanism of the optimization of water use through the efficiency of use, water conservation, reduction of loss and waste and the protection of water sources.