Climate change impacts on North African countries and on some Tunisian economic sectors

Leila Radhouane


Global temperature is increasing and that the main cause is the accumulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as a result of human activities. The economic costs alone will be very large: as extreme weather events such as droughts and floods become more destructive and frequent; communities, cities, and island nations are damaged or inundated as sea level rises; and agricultural output is disrupted. Impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity are also likely to be devastating. But what about Climate change impacts on water resources and agriculture in North African regions and especially on Tunisia country?

North Africa is vulnerable to climate change impacts. Scenarios predict an average rise in annual temperatures, higher than the average expected for the planet. Heat waves would then be more numerous, longer and more intense. North Africa would be particularly affected by droughts that would be more frequent, more intense and longer-lasting. The projections also announce a drop of 4 to 27% in annual rainfall. The water deficit will be worsened by increased evaporation and coastal aquifers will become more salty. The sea level could rise by 23-47 cm. by the end of the 21st century. Many Mediterranean regions would then run a major risk of being submerged and eroded.

In North Africa, rising temperatures associated with climate change are expected to decrease the land areas suitable for agriculture, shorten the length of growing seasons and reduce crop yields. In these countries, we estimate that a 1°C rise in temperature in a given year reduces economic growth in that year by about 1.1 points. The decrease in annual precipitation that is predicted for Northern Africa in the 21st century will exacerbate these effects, particularly in semiarid and arid regions that rely on irrigation for crop growth. These effects of climate change are more dramatic for Tunisia country especially for water resources and arable cropland.

The African countries face numerous environmental challenges and have to reconcile many conflicting priorities, from promoting economic diversification, ensuring water supply and food security, and furthering environmental protection and conservation to adapting to the impacts of global warming.

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