CASCADES Research Paper, February, 2021

Climate risks in Tunisia. Challenges to adaptation in the agri-food system

Publication date:
Hanne Knaepen, ECDPM

CASCADES Reseach Paper February2021 

Tunisia, home to almost 12 million people, is an upper-middle-income country, situated in North Africa between Algeria and Libya, and partly bordered by the Mediterranean Sea. The country has been experiencing economic growth since the 2000s and the Tunisian revolution and its aftermath have resulted in a relatively successful democratic transition. This led to Tunisia often being referred to as ‘the poster-boy of the revolution’. However, this transition is fragile and the country faces considerable political and socio-economic challenges, including high unemployment rates, especially among the youth.

The agricultural sector is central to the stability of the country, accounting for about 12 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employing approximately 16 percent of Tunisia’s labour force (USAID 2018). However, this sector is also highly prone to climate risks: rising temperatures and varied precipitation levels, coupled with increasing extreme events, such as floods and droughts, threaten agriculture, its availability of water resources, and consequently, the wider agri-food system and the country’s socio-economic development (Verner et al. 2018). In addition, the agri-food system is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in lower activity and subsequent losses in employment and income in the sector (FAO 2020).