Morocco: Water Management Under Worrying Indicators 

The government is armed with the National Program for Drinking Water Supply and Irrigation 2020-2027, and the National Water Plan 2020-2050.

The government is armed with the National Program for Drinking Water Supply and Irrigation 2020-2027, and the National Water Plan 2020-2050.

Today, March 22nd, is the World Water Day, and it is an occasion to find out how Morocco is prepared to face the challenges related to water in light of the climate and water context of our country, which has been characterized in recent years by droughts that brought the inhabitants of a number of regions to protest, raising therefore the issue of urgent measures to solve water problems in some regions, such as Zagora, which experienced unprecedented social tensions due to limited water resources.

The effects of drought and high demand are among the factors that impose pre-planning for water resource development strategies, while the state began to complete the first studies for resource planning since 1970, and this file is still on the government’s table today under the name of “managing scarcity” in order to manage drinking and irrigation water, and preserving it for the benefit of future generations.

The national priority program for potable water supplies costs 115 billion dirhams; 61 billion dirhams to develop the water supply, 25.1 billion dirhams to manage demand and water valuation, in addition to 26.9 billion dirhams to strengthen the supply of drinking water in rural areas, and 2.3 billion dirhams to the reuse of wastewater, then 50 million dirhams for communication and awareness.

Governmental measures related to water, announced on the occasion of the World Water Day, which falls on March 22 of each year, aim to overcome the problem of “water scarcity” in order not to turn into a “crisis”, especially since national and international reports have been sounding the alarm for years, and perhaps the latest of them is when the Moroccan League for Citizenship and Human Rights previously announced that nearly 50% of Moroccans do not have access to drinking water, while half of the schools in rural areas are not equipped with water and sanitation services.

As the World Bank had previously emphasized in a previous report entitled “For a World Free of Poverty”, Morocco has limited reserves of water resources, and the volume of water that it can technically and economically exploit does not exceed 80% of the current available water resources. Moreover, the report stated that all water problems in Morocco are related to managing water resources, noting that the rate of water waste in Morocco is 35% of the available water.

In addition to these worrisome indicators, a report by the Economic, Social and Environmental Council entitled “Governance through the Integrated Management of Water Resources in Morocco” notes that Morocco has, for years, witnessed an exacerbation of pressure on water resources due to the combination of many factors, including uneconomic habits of water consumption, and the patterns followed today in the exploitation of water resources, which have sometimes become aggressive and harmful due to the technological steps achieved, and then an uncontrolled increase in the urban population, which increases the complexity of the chains of collection and emptying of household and similar waste which it is often disposed of in random dumps or streams.

According to the Council’s report dating back to the year 2014, the sustainability of water resources has become under real danger, due to human and economic productive activities, pumping operations and overexploitation of some non-renewable water beds, and human activities alone lead to the extraction of more than 900 million cubic meters of water annually from non-renewable stocks in the country’s water beds.

The aforementioned indicators contributed to the collapse of the Moroccan per capita share of water in a “dramatic” manner during the past 20 years, after it decreased from 2,500 cubic meters per year in the 1980s to 1,010 cubic meters in 2000, then deteriorated further, reaching 720 meters in 2013, and is expected to decrease to 500 cubic meters per year by 2030, according to official reports.

In a report submitted to the concerned authorities, the council recommended setting serious goals related to generalizing the water economy in industrial, tourism and household uses, by achieving an additional water mobilization of 6.4 billion cubic meters of water annually, which represents more than 25% of the total water resources in our country, and more than six times the water currently extracted from non-renewable resources, distributed as follows: 31% by reaching the target of treating 400 million cubic meters of water annually from desalination of seawater and removing highly saline water from mineral impurities; 27% by continuing the dam policy, 25% through intensive re-orientation towards concentrated or sprinkler watering, 11% through wastewater reuse and water saving for industrial, tourism and domestic uses, and 6% by improving connectivity and distribution networks.

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