The Bond of Water

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Riots erupted in the central Algerian city of Tiaret this week after locals in the desert region have struggled with months of water shortages, leaving taps running dry and forcing citizens to ration water, the Associated Press reported.

Demonstrators have been setting tires on fire and building make-shift barricades to block roads to protest the shortages. They are also demanding that President Abdelmajid Tebboune resolves the situation.

News about the riots spread across social media but garnered little coverage in Algeria, where press freedoms aren’t strong.

Tiaret, a city of fewer than 200,000 people located 155 miles from the capital Algiers – and three surrounding municipalities – has been facing months of water shortages, according to officials. The region has been impacted by a multi-year drought that has also wreaked havoc across North Africa, drying up key reservoirs.

The region surrounding Tiaret gets its water from three reservoirs that are only functioning at 20 percent of their capacity. Authorities added that groundwater aquifers have also not been replenished because of the lack of rainfall.

Following the unrest, Tebboune asked his cabinet to implement “emergency measures” in the desert city and sent ministers to “ask for an apology from the population.”

Currently, Cosider – a public firm responsible for the region’s water infrastructure – is sending large water trucks into the Tiaret. Company representatives added that they are trying to finalize new pipelines by July to bring groundwater to the city from wells 20 miles away.

Meanwhile, Algerian authorities are working on a long-term solution to pipe water from larger dams, as well as rely on alternative supplies, including desalination plants that the country has heavily invested in.

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