Impact of food consumption on water footprint and food security in Tunisia uri icon

abstract

  • Over the next few years, Tunisia will face a growing scarcity of water. The concept of a food consumption water footprint has been recently applied to expand knowledge about water management and to respond to problems of food insecurity. In this study, following the Water Footprint Network (WFN) method, we assessed and analysed the food consumption water footprint of Tunisian households by geographical location and by group of food products. We used results from national food surveys to collect the quantities of food consumed and the WFN database containing water footprints of food products specific to Tunisia. We found that the average water footprint for the main consumed food groups has increased by 31% during recent decades, from 1208 m(3)/capita/year in 1985 to 1586 m(3)/capita/year in 2010. Despite the decline in cereal consumption in Tunisia, the food water footprint has continued to rise as a result of increased consumption of animal source products. This increase is associated with regional variations in food choices that imply large differences in water footprints. Urban diets present higher water footprints than rural diets proportionally to higher standards of living. This study provides a new perspective on the water footprint of food consumption in Tunisia by using dietary data at the household level and demonstrated significant variability in water footprints due to different food consumption modes, and socio-economic and geographic characteristics. Future food consumption trends will likely create more pressure on water resources, especially in Tunis city and coastal areas of Tunisia. Special measures related to price policies, sensitization of consumers, and changes in production systems may have to be taken by policy makers to reduce the water footprint in order to improve food security strategies and water management in Tunisia.

publication date

  • 2019
  • 2019