Generation of Potential Sites for Sustainable Water Harvesting Techniques in Oum Zessar Watershed, South East Tunisia

Mohamed Arbi Abdeladhim*, Luuk Fleskens, Jantiene Baartman, Mongi Sghaier, Mohamed Ouessar, Coen J. Ritsema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Water harvesting techniques (WHTs) are important climate change adaptation measures to better manage rainwater for domestic and agricultural purposes, but which WHT to plan where is subject to sustainability considerations. Moreover, suitability of different WHTs varies from one location to another, depending on physical and socio-economic conditions. This study aimed to identify suitable sites for WHTs taking into account stakeholders’ sustainability criteria. In a participatory assessment framework, Geographic Information Systems and the “Simple Multi-Attribute Rating Technique” were combined to generate suitability maps and to guide sustainable WHTs investments. Steps included the calculation of a sustainability index for a set of traditional and newly introduced WHTs from the perspective of two stakeholder groups, farmers and decision-makers, and its integration with layers of biophysical constraints. An application of the framework in the Oum Zessar watershed, southeast Tunisia, shows that traditional techniques are the most suitable and sustainable for farmers and fall within the highly suitable class in 76.4% of the total area, while decision-makers prefer innovative techniques that are highly suitable in 80.4% of the watershed. The framework offers a scalable transparent process for knowledge integration in support of WHT investment decisions that can be adapted to other dryland areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5754
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2022


  • composite sustainability indicator
  • GIS
  • rainwater harvesting
  • spatial multi-criteria analysis
  • Tunisia


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