Issues addressed

This pilot contains considerable geothermal water resources and has a rich record of knowledge and expertise in terms of geothermal water valorisation in high-value crops irrigation.

The existence of an experienced farming community was contrasted by the absence of any sense of organization mainly in terms of commercial and financial management.  In addition, these abundant geothermal water resources suffer a problem of overexploitation as they are used by multiple agricultural systems (small-scale farms and large-scale capitalistic projects).

Certain regions of the SASS, particularly Tunisia and Libya, are rich with geothermal water resources on the Intercalary Continental. In the past, water used to be mostly artesian (source or well), but due to the overexploitation of the aquifer, many water resources dried up and the piezometric level of wells decreased over time. However, these geothermal water resources which spurt out to the surface at a temperature of 55 C° are not sufficiently valorised for agricultural use. They are often artificially cooled and then used to irrigate the oasis without taking any advantage of their natural heat.

Nevertheless, Tunisia (Governorate of Gabes, kebili, and Tozeur) saw a successful experience in geothermal water resources valorisation for the irrigation of hyper-intensive off-season food crops. This experience started in the 1980s and is more consolidated nowadays thanks to technological advance. There even exists a technological centre specialized in geothermal agricultural systems.

Taking advantage of the Tunisian successful experience in valorising geothermal water and knowing that it would not be possible to implement pilot 4 in Libya, the SASS project managers saw important to build on the results obtained in Tunisia and share them with the other SASS countries, notably Libya. So, this pilot aims to ensure the transfer of this irrigation technology to the central zone of Oueds which was previously designated for pilot4.

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