Morocco Prepares for Drought With New Water-Saving Policy


Rabat – The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) projected a continued warming trend in Morocco. Every decade since 1970, the average temperature in Morocco increased by 0.5 °C, exceeding the global average by about 0.15 degrees.

Reports mention that temperatures in Morocco could keep increasing by up to 7 °C by 2100 unless serious preventive measures are taken.

Over the next 20 years, IPPC estimates Morocco will become more vulnerable to drought and other extreme weather events.

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In order to prevent these consequences, Morocco has decided to adopt a new national program for water.

The Moroccan government signed the framework agreement for the implementation of the 2020-2027 national program for drinking and irrigation water supply on Monday, January 13.

King Mohammed VI, accompanied by Prince Moulay El Hassan, presided over the signing ceremony at the Royal Palace in Rabat.

King Mohammed VI presides the signing ceremony of the 2020-2027 National Water Program.
Photo credit: MAP

The agreement defines the methods of implementing and financing the MAD 115.4 billion program.

The plan aims to consolidate and diversify Morocco’s drinking water supply, to guarantee water security, and to combat the effects of climate change.

During the ceremony, Minister of Equipment, Transport, Logistics, and Water, Abdelkader Amara, gave a speech outlining the program. The ministry, he said, developed the program, which revolves around five main actions, to combat the water situation in Morocco.

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The program concerns improving water supply through building dams, with a budget of MAD 61 billion, managing demand and developing irrigation systems for the agricultural sector (MAD 25.1 billion), and securing drinking water supply in rural areas (MAD 26.9 billion).

The program also aims to reuse treated wastewater in the irrigation of green areas, with a budget of MAD 2.3 billion for it. Raising awareness about the importance of preserving water resources and rationalizing their use (MAD 50 million) is another key aspect of the plan, said the minister.

The general budget of the State will finance 60% of the program’s budget, while other stakeholders, mainly the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) will fund 39% of the projects. As for the remaining 1%, it will be part of the public-private partnership, added Amara.

Appointing committee leaders

The official also announced the different committees to monitor the implementation of the program. Morocco’s Head of Government, Saad Eddine El Othmani, will chair a leading committee, while Amara will lead a technical committee. Finally, Governors of the different Moroccan regions are set to preside regional committees.

To improve water supply, the program is set to build 20 large dams with a storage capacity of 5.38 billion cubic meters. The dams will cost MAD 21.91 billion, said Amara, noting that the construction of the new dams will bring the overall water storage capacity of Morocco to 27.3 billion cubic meters.

The minister announced that several regional delegations have made an inventory of 909 sites that are likely to house small dams and hill dams. Morocco has currently 130 operating small dams and 20 still under construction, he added.

Morocco Prepares Drought With New Water-Saving PolicyAl Massira Dam near Settat, northwestern Morocco.
Photo credit: Ministry of Water

The program includes the exploration of groundwater to mobilize new resources and the construction of new seawater desalination stations. Morocco has already built four similar stations in the cities of Laayoune, Boujdour, Tan Tan, and Akhfenir, all in southern Morocco.

Read Also: Morocco Launches Major Development Projects in Laayoune

Two desalination stations are also already under construction in Agadir and Al Hoceima, while three others are scheduled in Casablanca, Dakhla, and Safi, concluded Amara.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, and Waters and Forests, Aziz Akhannouch, announced that the 2020-2027 program will supply irrigation water to an overall area of 510,000 hectares and will benefit 160,000 farmers.

The national plan allocates a budget of nearly MAD 9.5 billion to convert traditional irrigation systems into drip irrigation systems. The program plans to equip 350,000 hectares of agricultural land with new irrigation systems.

The plan will also ensure the continuation of the hydro-agricultural development project in the Saiss plain, northern Morocco, and the launch of a new development project in the southeastern part of the Gharb plain, northwestern Morocco.

Direct aid in rural areas

Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Interior Minister, Abdelouafi Laftit, stressed that the program aims to fight precariousness and water scarcity in some regions, especially during periods of drought.

The minister added that 7,876 villages will receive drinking water supply through 659 rural centers. The budget allocated for the centers is MAD 5 billion, while the estimated cost for generalizing drinking water supply to all villages is MAD 9.68 billion.

The program also aims to improve the output of distribution networks in cities and urban centers by 78% by 2027. The optimization of water infrastructure is expected to save nearly 207 million cubic meters of water. It would guarantee a continued supply of drinking water and an improvement in the quality of services.

Morocco Prepares for Drought New Water-Saving PolicyRural village of Ourika, near Marrakech.

Laftit added that the program is set to carry out liquid sanitation projects for the benefit of 128 cities and equip 1,207 rural centers with a sanitation network.

The first phase of the 2020-2027 program expects to mobilize 100 million cubic meters of water per year by 2027. The goal will be reached through the completion of 87 projects, including 22 for the irrigation of golf courses.

Amara, Laftit, and Akhannouch, along with Mohamed Benchaaboun, Minister of Economy, Finance, and Administrative Reform, Aziz Rabbah, Minister of Energy, Mining, and Environment, and Abderrahim El Hafidi, General Director of ONEE, have all signed the agreement.

El Othmani and other government members also attended the signing ceremony.