Water management: a master thesis in the framework of MENAWARA project


Houssem Hmaidi, the eldest of three brothers, was born twenty-eight years ago, in Bou Salem, a town in northern Tunisia that lies on the banks of the Medjerda, the longest river of the country. “Our region is known for its agriculture, especially irrigated agriculture – says Houssem – and for its natural beautiful sceneries”.

So, it is not surprising that the title of Houssem's master thesis, carried out in the frame of CIHEAM Bari master program and MENAWARA activities and discussed recently, is “Assessment, evaluation and upgrading of major wastewater treatment plants for irrigation reuse in Tunisia”.  Supervised by Dr. Roula Khadra, (CIHEAM BARI, Italy) and Dr. Isabel Martin (CENTA, Fundación Pública Andaluza, Spain), the research analyzes the global conditions of the Wastewater Treatment Plants, the effluents’ current quality, and the Tunisian standards for reuse in agriculture, proposes upgrading solutions according to the “fit for purpose” principle in a stakeholder-driven process, and accounts for the implications of COVID-19 virus on the wastewater sector. «It is an important step in my studies which began at the Higher School of Engineers of Medjez El Bab before I was admitted to the 2 year Master of Science program of CIHEAM Bari, entitled "Land & Water Resources Management: irrigated agriculture".

The different experiences of Houssem that englobe working at the Tunisian Ministries of Agriculture and Equipment, and an internship at the University of Guelph, Canada, in the use of innovative methods to elaborate inundation maps, honed Houssem's skills and passion “The reuse of treated wastewater in agriculture is of ultimate importance around the world but especially for Mediterranean countries which suffer from fresh water shortage and scarcity. Given my interest and the strategic importance of the topic for Tunisia, Dr Roula Khadra introduced me to the MENAWARA project. I believe that performing a research within a European project of this magnitude, and sharing knowledge and experience with several stakeholders from different Mediterranean countries was not only beneficial, but shaped my professional career as an engineer”.

Houssem seems to have very clear ideas. “My dream is to acquire knowledge and experience from countries that have reached advanced levels of innovation and development and to be hopefully able to share it and make a good use of it in my home country to improve our future. I don’t know where my ambition will take me in the near future, but I will do my very best to be a step closer to the fulfilment of my dreams”.