Tunisia: MedArtSal supports local alliances with civil society for the sustainibility of Kerkennah salinas
The Tunisian company Les Diamants de la Mer - Sodimer, in partnership with the Association of Continuity of Generations- ACG and the Association pour la Conservation de la Biodiversité dans le Golfe de Gabès - Ascob Syrtis, in 2021 received a subgrant within the framework of the MedArtSal project to finance the project Développement écologique des salines de Kerkennah "DESK".
The project, which is expected to last 16 months, is the result of a new and effective partnership made up of different actors, each able to provide interesting and innovative ideas and input. The lead partner is the company Les Diamants de la Mer - Sodimer, founded in 2019 and which, by using the deposits at the Kerkennah saline, is able to produce between 15 and 20 thousand tonnes of salt annually. Sodimer is supported in the project activities by two Tunisian associations, both active in the field of sustainable development. The first is the Association of Continuity of Generations- ACG, founded in 2009, which is active in civil society and works on various sustainable development projects aimed at protecting the environment, enhancing nature reserves, entrepreneurship, and human rights. The second is the Association pour la Conservation de la Biodiversité dans le Golfe de Gabès - Ascob Syrtis, founded in 2013, whose main objective is the conservation of marine and terrestrial biodiversity.
The core of the project is the Kerkennah saline, located at the Kerkennah Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, about 18 km off the coast of Sidi Mansour (Sfax). The saline is a natural site offering a wonderful panorama and characterised by a rich fauna and flora, where halophytic vegetation grows and where several species of migratory and wintering birds take refuge.
The "DESK" project will seek to develop a model of sustainable management of the saline through the implementation of new sustainable activities that use natural resources to improve productivity while respecting the local community and the environment and ensuring the use of resources in the future. In fact, the project aims to develop the enterprise from a social, economic, and ecological point of view as well as to integrate it into its environment. Various activities will allow the development of staff skills, the improvement of social relations within the company and the enhancement of efficiency. Furthermore, diversification in terms of products will be achieved thanks to the involvement of the university through the integration of student trainees. As a result, the rehabilitated company will open up to its external environment and offer job opportunities thanks to its participatory approach towards the island and the community. In addition, an ecotourism circuit will be created, highlighting the biodiversity of the fauna, flora, and birds, and reinforcing the social responsibility of the company, which will open its doors to the public.
The tour will generate a space for exchange and sharing about salt and the richness of biodiversity and will provide the community with an opportunity to showcase local products. Finally, through the implementation of a pilot experiment of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA), the company will be able to offer a unique experience.
All activities will be implemented with the support of local authorities and civil society, while communication tools will enable the valorisation and promotion of the Kerkennah saline.
The “DESK” project has identified environmental sustainability, economic productivity, and social responsibility as its pillars, making it an innovative experience that is perfectly in line not only with the objectives and principles of the MedArtSal project but also with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the "North Star" for all development and cooperation initiatives.