My Water Diary

April 1, 2024

It seems important to note first, that while my water usage is lower than the average American’s (1,013 g/d to 1,802 g/d), a lot of this I attribute to Dickinson college making such lower water usage accessible ( For example, my shower at Dickinson has efficient faucets, but the house I grew up in does not. Additionally, Dickinson makes sustainability, like recycling and getting used clothing very easy. Therefore, one must take into consideration the ways the lifestyle of a Dickinson college student differs from the lifestyle of the average American. 

 The average American water footprint is 7,800 litre/day or 2060.542 gallons/day. My sub-region of study is North Africa so I looked up Tunisia to compare. The average Tunisian uses 6 100 litre/day or 1,611.44 (gallons/day. Socially, I think it is likely Tunisians consider water scarcityin their activities and everyday lives, in a way that people in the US don’t.


 Economically, water scarcity is going to make water demanding goods expensive, and is going to limit who is able to access goods. For example, foods that require a lot of water to grow are going to be expensive and inaccessible locally, and might be cheaper to import. Countries without oil wealth, like North African countries, might find such imports out of reach. Perhaps it would also mean it will take more water to consume things. 

This means that Tunisia has to import virtual water from countries, likely from outside the region given how scarce the surrounding region is as well. Internationally, Tunisia must maintain good trading relations with the countries they get this water from. Water scarcity also means the Tunisian government must have the funds to import virtual water. These patterns present challenges to sustainable development. 

I am writing my final research paper on food security in Tunisia, and part of the problem is the arid climate makes sustainable food security difficult. Reliance on imported food, which is virtual water, makes the country vulnerable, presenting foundational challenges to human life. Patterns of reliance on external countries for virtual water pose challenges for countries because it makes them vulnerable to price shocks, issues with transportation, etc. Are there any other ways you can think of water scarcity posing challenges for MENA countries? Did you notice different challenges for different sub-regions?