Euro-Mediterranean Information System on know-how in the Water sector
International portal

News North Africa’s largest aquifer: Broad cross-sectoral cooperation needed

Broad cross-sectoral cooperation needed to address the degradation of North Africa’s largest aquifer:


Examining the interlinkages between energy, water, land and ecosystem resources, a new transboundary “nexus” assessment identifies integrated solutions to render resource management more sustainable in the North Western Sahara Aquifer System.
Shared by Algeria, Libya and Tunisia, the North Western Sahara Aquifer System (NWSAS) is North Africa’s largest groundwater reserve, supporting the lives and livelihoods of 4.8 million inhabitants. A vital water resource extending over 1 million square kilometres in a highly arid environment, the aquifer system is naturally vulnerable due its low natural recharge. Pressures on water have been increasing over the past three decades with the rise of new industrial agriculture, with water abstraction currently standing at 3 times the aquifer’s natural recharge rate (1 billion cubic meters per year). This results in pressures on water and soil quality, leading to a vicious cycle of reduced agricultural productivity and increased energy demand for pumping from deep wells. Fragile ecosystems, such as wetlands, are consequently under threat and local populations are exposed to significant vulnerability.


The report ‘Reconciling resource uses: Assessment of the water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus in the North Western Sahara Aquifer System, underlines the urgency of taking action across borders and sectors to address the threats leading to the degradation of the aquifer system.

Contact information n/a
News type Inbrief
File link
Source of information
Geographical coverage n/a
News date 01/10/2020
Working language(s) ENGLISH