Contact Us  |  Search  
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research
Development, Security, and Cooperation
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About Us For Grant Recipients Funded Projects Email Updates
Cycle 7 (2018 Deadline)

Southern Tunisia Climate Hub (STCH)

PI: Bouajila Essifi (, Institut des Regions Arides
U.S. Partner: Steve Ostoja, United States Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) and the University of California at Davis (UC Davis), the John Muir Institute of the Environment
Dates: November 2018 - October 2021

Project Overview:

Desertification affects approximately one-sixth of the world's population, 25 percent of the global land area, and 70 percent of all drylands, amounting to 3.6 billion hectares. The most obvious impacts of desertification, in addition to widespread poverty, are (1) the degradation of 3.3 billion hectares of the total area of rangeland, constituting 73 per cent of the rangeland with a low potential for human and animal carrying capacity; (2) the decline in soil fertility and soil structure on about 47 per cent of the dryland areas constituting marginal rainfed cropland; and (3) the degradation of irrigated cropland, amounting to 30 per cent of the dryland areas with a high population density and agricultural potential. Desertification is both a natural phenomenon and a process induced by human activities, and it is now recognized as a global issue affecting us all. Combating desertification must be part of a sustainable development that takes into account the different economic, environmental, social, and institutional dimensions, and therefore, opens the way for the implementation of early warning systems and helps policy- and decision-makers to set out relevant strategies for sustainable development. The activities of the Southern Tunisia Climate Hub (STCH) supported under this PEER award are highly aligned with one of USAID's development objectives for Tunisia, namely to transparently foster collaboration between the regional development agencies (CRDA, in the two targeted governorates) and farmers, while building community resilience and effectively addressing population needs in these marginalized regions. The aim of this project is to develop and utilize inclusive approaches to addressing natural resource management, including water management, soil conservation, and land management, as well as addressing general sustainable development issues in two counties in southern Tunisia: Medenine and Tataouine. These areas have been long-affected by land and water mismanagement combined with persistent drought under changing climatic conditions.

This project seeks to strengthen the Tunisian economy by promoting economic opportunities in the agricultural sector within the rural communities of southern Tunisia. It represents an aspect of the USAID’s contribution toward helping Tunisia surmount its socioeconomic challenges, as identified in the Tunisian Strategic Development Plan (2016-2020). Anticipated direct impact on the agricultural workforce in southern part of the country includes capacity building for skilled workers to match the market’s needs, which promote job creation. The Institut des Regions Arides has long experience in providing training to local farmers and land managers and strengthening the links between research and development, agronomic education, and the private sector.

Final Summary of Project Activities

The STCH project aimed to build a long-term collaboration initiative involving scientists, land managers, farmers, decision makers to utilize climate-specific and adaptive knowledge. This joint initiative provides actionable information to land users, land managers, and other stakeholders. The team used this this platform to also engage the private sector and build capacity for IRA researchers, technicians, extension workers, students, and professionals from partnering local institutions, improving competencies in techniques, including those of date palm cultivation, and aquifer management. They also co-supervised graduate students to work research themes related to water and land resources management, ecosystem services. 

Back to PEER Cycle 7 Grant Recipients