The Tunisian government and the World Bank signed a €113.6 million loan agreement on June 2. The funds will be allocated to the Tunisia Sanitation Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Support project, which aims to improve the quality of wastewater management services in specific regions of the country. The primary objective of this initiative is to strengthen the capacity of the national sanitation public company (ONAS) to effectively manage PPP contracts related to the provision of sanitation services.
"This project will support improved water supply and sanitation services for an estimated two million direct beneficiaries – more than 500.000 households - in six governorates during the ten years of implementation, with around half being women and girls," said Alexandre Arrobbio, World Bank Country Manager for Tunisia. “Given its long-term involvement in the sector and the continuous support provided to ONAS, since its creation in 1974, through eight World Bank-financed projects, the World Bank is well placed to support this initiative.”
In many regions in Tunisia, access to water supply and sanitation services remains a challenge. In fact, despite substantial progress in improving access to water supply and sanitation services, about 360,000 people are still using unimproved sanitation services. While most of the population without access to sewerage live in rural areas, the wastewater generated by more than 1.7 million urban residents remains untreated. In addition, 2020 records show that 24% of wastewater treatment plants managed by ONAS were operating above their hydraulic capacity.
To address these challenges, and with technical support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group focused on the private sector, the Tunisian Government has encouraged ONAS to develop PPPs through regional public service delegation contracts. These PPPs will help ONAS access quality and efficiency gains associated with private sector service delivery and compare the results with its operations.
The activities of the Tunisia sanitation PPP support project will be structured under three components: wastewater management infrastructure rehabilitation and retrofitting, supporting the implementation of wastewater infrastructure renovation; wastewater management infrastructure operation and maintenance; and institutional strengthening and project management, by supporting ONAS in improving its capacity to develop, manage, monitor, and report on PPP transactions.
The project is an example of “One World Bank Group” collaboration, as both the World Bank and IFC have been supporting the preparation of the PPP transactions since the pre-feasibility assessment stage. IBRD and IFC have also provided quality control on documents through the PPP cycle and advised on the process. The project is also well aligned with the support of other development partners to ONAS, such as the French Development Agency (AFD), the Islamic Development Bank, and the governments of Germany and Japan.