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Tunisia Turns Off the Tap

FILE - A cup of water is drawn from a faucet in this illustrative photo taken Sept. 1, 2022.

TUNIS - Tunisian authorities have started cutting off drinking water at night in areas of the capital and other cities, residents said, in what appears to be a bid to reduce consumption amid a severe drought.

Tunisia is suffering a serious drought, prompting officials to say the ministry may begin to cut off water supply at night over the summer to reduce consumption due to the scarcity of reserves in the country.

The continued lack of rain, however, appears to have prompted authorities to start doing so early in some places.

Tunisian dams recorded a decrease in capacity of around of 1 billion cubic meters due to scarcity of rain from September 2022 to mid-March 2023, Hamadi Habib, a senior official in the agriculture ministry, said.

The Sidi Salem Dam in the north of the country, a key provider of drinking water to several regions, has declined to only 16% of its maximum capacity of 580 million cubic meters, official figures showed.

Cutting off water without prior announcement, in areas of the capital Tunis, Hammamet, Sousse, Monastir and Sfax, threatens to fuel social tension in a country whose people suffer from poor public services, high inflation and a weak economy.