Living in fragile environments, women in rural areas are increasingly concerned about the effects of climate change compared to their urban counterparts. This heightened concern is attributed to rural women making up 70% of the agricultural workforce but account for only 15% of the stable workforce and barely 8% of the total working population.


As environmental specialists frequently affirm, rural women are on the front line of the impact of climate change. They are the main victims. In recent years, women farm workers have seen their economic self-sufficiency severely compromised by the phenomenon of climate change.

In the governorate of Siliana, a major problem is currently affecting the rural region of Oulad Omar, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Beni Hazem deanery. This region is facing a serious problem in terms of drinking water distribution. This situation had been foreseen for several years, namely since 2018, thanks to the scientific survey conducted by Ms. Houda Mazhoud, a researcher specialising in rural economics and an active member of the APEDDUUB association.

In 2019, a consequent decision was taken to address this upcoming challenge, stipulating that the 22 families residing in this locality would receive a simple allocation of a 20-litre container of water per day. However, the situation has since taken a more worrying turn, with the local population forced to share a water source that can barely hold more than 10 litres. To add to the complexity of the situation, the year 2023 saw the depletion of water resources extracted from Al Ain “Aweydiya,” exacerbated by high temperatures in July.

These events remarkably underline the seriousness of the water shortage situation that has unfortunately developed in response to changing weather patterns.



On August 08, 2023, Ms. Houda MAZHOUD, a researcher specialising in rural economics and an active member of the APEDUUB association, was invited to the “SansEmissions” broadcast on the radio station 100FM, hosted by Ms. Azza KHEMIRI. The purpose of the invitation was to discuss the pressing issue of water accessibility in the Wled Omar region within the governorate of Siliana. Ms. Mazhoud aimed to shed light on how this issue disproportionately affects fragile and more vulnerable groups in the area.

During the broadcast, she remarked, “In 2019, a 20-litre container could be filled in around half an hour, whereas by late 2019, the same task takes more than two hours. This significant increase in the time required to secure a relatively small volume of water serves as a stark indicator of the urgent challenges that lie ahead. The impending threat posed by this increasingly severe situation is undeniable and warrants cautious attention.”

In November 2019, Ms. Mazhoud proactively initiated discussions with local authorities regarding the prevailing water accessibility issue. Their positive response and willingness to address the compounded challenges related to water access and infrastructure were indeed encouraging. Subsequent on-site surveys further unveiled the critical vulnerability of the situation, underscoring the hardships faced by the ageing local residents.



Within the Wled Omar region, the plight of rural women takes on a tragically intensified dimension due to the mounting challenges of water accessibility. Amidst this scenario, a narrative of suffering, often overlooked, emerges as these women grapple with the harsh realities of their environment.

At the heart of this suffering lies the arduous task of water collection, a burden primarily borne by these women. Each day unfolds as an unyielding cycle of extensive journeys to retrieve water, a relentless chore devoid of respite. The farther the water sources, the more gruelling the trek, exacting not just a physical toll but also straining their emotional and mental resilience.

The absence of nearby, reliable water sources thrusts women into an unrelenting struggle to secure water for their families. This battle consumes their time, energy, and prospects for education and economic engagement.

Furthermore, the deep-seated disparities between genders within this rural setting exacerbate the scale of their challenges. In cases where women inherit agricultural land, they also shoulder the responsibility of managing water resources, a duty intrinsically tied to prevailing gender norms and societal perceptions. These norms designate women as the primary caregivers, homemakers, and water providers. This entrenched role perpetuates their marginalised status, not just within the family sphere but across society as a whole.

In the agricultural realm, which forms the backbone of numerous rural communities, the convergence of water scarcity and gender inequality amplifies the difficulties of life. Moreover, imbalances in power within certain regions curtail women’s entitlement to water access, largely due to their limited influence in decision-making. Prevalent discriminatory norms further undermine women’s rights within the agricultural sector.

In a predominantly rural context, empowering women to assert their rights and make decisions remains a persistent struggle, as they navigate a landscape deeply entrenched in traditional values. Their multifaceted roles in agriculture encompass sowing and harvesting crops. However, inadequate water resources hamper their agricultural endeavours, resulting in diminished yields, financial instability, and bleak prospects for their family’s sustenance.

In summation, the plight faced by rural women in the Wled Omar region underscores the intricate interplay between water access, gender roles, and the complex tapestry of their lives.

Since 2019, promises have been made to rectify the water source, but unfortunately, none of these commitments have been translated into action on the ground.

Despite assurances dating back to 2019 that efforts would be undertaken to address the water source issue, regrettably, none of these pledges have materialized into tangible actions within the local community.

By 2023, the situation had deteriorated to the point where the drinking water supply was completely exhausted.

Fast-forwarding to 2023, the situation had regrettably reached a critical juncture, with the once-available drinking water supply having been entirely depleted. This dire circumstance served as a painful wake-up call for the community.

This painful reality prompted the community to embark on the search for an alternative water source, which resulted in the digging of a well. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, the result was discouraging, yielding just 10 liters of water a day.

Confronted with this distressing reality, the community felt compelled to take matters into their own hands. They initiated the search for an alternative water source, which led to the excavation of a well. Despite the earnest endeavors put forth, the outcome yielded disappointing results – a mere 10 liters of water per day – a stark reminder of the challenges and obstacles they continue to face in their pursuit of a reliable water supply.


Reference note: CGIAR policy brief

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