Ghar el Melh, Tunisia
Ghar el Melh, Tunisia
Ghar el Melh, Tunisia
Designated a Wetland of International Importance, Ghar el Melh was the first North African and Middle Eastern city to receive Ramsar’s Wetland City Accreditation Award, in recognition of its formal engagement in efforts towards wetland protection and sustainability. Ghar el Melh actively promotes the ecological importance of its wetlands, and it also recognises their sociocultural value and their place in the region’s rich historical heritage.
While the city is much smaller today than it has been at times in the past, many of the remaining residents depend on the lagoon for their livelihoods. Artisanal fishers ply its calm waters, primarily targeting mullet and eels; while the wider region has become a popular seaside touristic destination, particularly in the summer months. Farmers use land right up to the shores of the lagoon, and on the floodplains to the north.
Unfortunately, neither the fishing, nor the farming, nor the tourism have been developed with sufficient care, and all are now contributing to the stresses on the local ecosystems. Climate change is exacerbating the pressure. With vulnerable fish populations, dried and salt-damaged land, and unsustainable (and sometimes illegal) coastal development, the natural resources which have supported Ghar el Melh’s residents for centuries are at a tipping point, and their long-term viability is in doubt – the need for sustainable and integrated resource management has never been greater.
The GemWet project aims at creating a model for integrated coastal and wetlands management in North Africa. It specifically aims at protecting, sustainably managing, and restoring Ghar el Melah lagoon in Tunisia.
Agricultural run-off (eutrophication)
Drying out/salted up polders
Inadequate or non-existent wastewater treatment
Societal challenges to be addressed
Economic and Social development of Ghar el Melah areas
Food security, by addressing fishing activities taking place in the lagoon and agricultural activity that is taking place in the farming polders
Water security, by addressing water pollution from industrial and urban activity, and ▪ Ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss, by addressing water pollution and coastal development
The project contributes to improving the human well-being by creating sustainable and nature friendly economic activities (e.g., eco-tourism, artisanal fisheries, sustainable agriculture) and by restoring the ecosystem services on which people’s livelihood depends.
Ghar El Melh: building resilience in Tunisia’s most precious wetlands
Looking out across Tunisia’s Ghar el Melh lagoon, a Wetland of International Importance, the city of Ghar el Melh embodies a unique natural and cultural heritage. But for the last 10 years, the lagoon has been suffering from intensive development pressures, their impact exacerbated by climate change. Urgent action is needed to save this precious ecosystem and the vital services it provides to local communities.
Meet Wetlanders from Ghar el Melh
Ghar El Melh, a wetland for life
Mondher El-Hamrouni has worked with his father as a fisher since the age of 15. Despite having opportunities to leave, he has never managed to stay away from Ghar El Melh. But in recent years Mondher has witnessed changes in the lagoon which are affecting his work and income, and he’s asking for urgent solutions.
Farming between land and sea
Mohamed El Mabrouk is a farmer based in Ghar El Melh who carries on the tradition of the ‘Ramli’ – a type of cultivation unique to Tunisia. Ramlis are small islands constructed between the land and the sea, where crops are naturally irrigated by freshwater filtered through the ground by the movement of the tides. Besides preserving local livelihoods and cultural heritage, the Ramlis also actively contribute to the region’s resilience to climate change.
Ghar el Melh is telling its stories
Ghar el Melh is among Tunisia’s most precious coastal heritage. It was the first North African and Middle Eastern city to receive Ramsar’s Wetland City Accreditation Award, in recognition of its formal engagement in efforts to support wetland protection and sustainability, and the area is drawing increasing numbers of visitors as it becomes better known.
Ghar El Melh incarne un potentiel conséquent dans divers secteurs socio-économiques. En effet, l’agriculture, la pêche et le tourisme représentent trois activités fortement ancrées dans la région.
Ghar El Melh, une région côtière au nord-est de la Tunisie, se situe à une cinquantaine de kilomètres de Tunis. Région, car Ghar El Melh n’est ni une ville, ni un village. Ghar El Melh est d’une rare richesse qui se décline en une histoire atypique, un écosystème d’une diversité particulière, des métiers pérennisés et transmis et des traditions cultivées et nourries.
Ghar El Melh offre chaque année à des milliers de vacanciers un cadre fort agréable. Mais au-delà de cette image idyllique, la lecture de la situation touristique aboutit à un état des lieux assez alarmant.
The Ancestral Wetlands of Ghar El Melh: Feeding the Mind, Body and Soul Have you ever taken a bite...
Youth from Ghar El Melh discusses Green Jobs opportunities
Katra, the first drop
Amal Medimagh, is one of the three young Green entrepreneurs in Tunisia that made their dream come true through the “Green Jobs”, one of the core activities of GEMWET program. GEMWET aimed to assist economic, socio-cultural and ecological development in the Ghar El Melh.
Permafarm, in Menzel Bourguiba
Nourredine Jouini, is one of the three young entrepreneurs from Tunisia, that made their dream come true through the “Green Jobs” activity. Green Jobs, was one of the core activities of the GEMWET project, that aimed to assist economic, socio-cultural and ecological development in the Ghar El Melh wetland, in Tunisia.
Proact: A world without waste
Ibtissem Aoidhi, is a Consultant in QHSE Quality, Health, Safety & Environment and founder of the website PROACT an online platform connecting buyers and sellers of recycled products. PROACT, was one of the start-ups that were launched in the framework of the Green Jobs activity, under the project GEMWET.
Another look at the Medjerda
« As part of the MAVA OAP M3 “Knowledge & Experience…” project, Exploralis (Tunisia) has developed a video on the Medjerda river wetlands, sharing their experience on how, starting from a purely knowledge/ scientific preoccupation initially, their efforts are now contributing to establishing a protection status for this important site. A significant part of this experience was built in the framework of their participation in the IUCN-Med project PPI-OSCAN, funded by MAVA and FFEM. The video is taking stock of the experience. The Exploralis Team is to be commended for a very professional and inspiring film : le film ‘Un autre regard sur la Medjerda’