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Morocco’s King Mohammed VI’s call to Moroccans to “rationalize water consumption” spoke to the unprecedented drought affecting the kingdom, raising questions about Morocco’s water situation and proposed solutions to mitigate the effects of the water shortage crisis in the kingdom. to face.

escalating crisis

In a speech, on Friday, on the occasion of the opening of the Parliament, the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, raised the alarm about the drought and water shortage crisis in Morocco and called for the serious handling of the “structural water stress” which causes the kingdom. suffer from.

The Moroccan monarch called for “the problem of water, in all its dimensions, to be taken seriously, especially by reducing all forms of waste, indiscriminate and irresponsible exploitation,” noting that Morocco “now in living a situation of structural water stress. and going through a difficult drought stage, which is the worst.” for more than three decades.”

The head of the Atlas Center for the Analysis of Political and Institutional Indicators in Morocco, Mohamed Boudin, sees the Moroccan monarch’s speech as “a strong opportunity to anticipate the repercussions of water stress in the country.”

In statements to the Al-Hurra website, he indicated that the Moroccan monarch “offered a strategic recipe to make progress in the water file, which is the basis for development, existence and investment linked to the stimulating environment and the elements of sustainability.”

This year, Morocco is experiencing the worst drought in four decades, and Moroccan dams do not exceed 27 percent of their capacity, but the situation is expected to worsen gradually on the horizon of the year 2050 due to a decrease in rain (-11 percent ) ) and an annual rise in temperature (+1.3 degrees), according to estimates from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Therefore, the Moroccan economic analyst, Driss Issawi, describes the country’s current situation as “critical” due to the suffocating scarcity in Morocco, especially the water used in the field of irrigation.

According to Issawi, the drought situation has affected all sectors in Morocco, especially the agricultural field, prompting specialist experts to try to find solutions to this dilemma, “but in vain.”

What are the reasons?

Issawi talks about several reasons behind the drought in the country, the main ones being “hot weather, excessive use of water and the cultivation of water-intensive species such as tomatoes, watermelons and other types of crops destined for export”.

On the other hand, the late Moroccan King Hassan II chose to equip the country with a set of more than 55 dams of different sizes, which allowed the irrigation of more than 1 million hectares of agricultural areas and the development of various exported crops made. to the European market, according to Issawi hadith.

Agriculture consumes more than 80 percent of Morocco’s water resources, and the drought has caused the grain harvest to drop to just 34 million quintals, down 67 percent from last year, according to AFP.

This drought in Morocco, in addition to the repercussions of the war in Ukraine, led to a decrease in growth forecasts for this year to only 0.8 percent, according to the Central Bank.

Morocco, which has a population of about 36 million people, hopes to recover economic growth next year at a rate of 3.6 percent, if the grain harvest averages 75 million quintals, which remains linked to the level of rain .

Therefore, Boden asserts that “achieving faster growth of the national economy requires continuous work at the level of water and investment policy,” noting that “the royal speech links the availability of water and increased investment to achieve development.”

Below the water scarce line

Morocco is already below the water scarcity limit set by the World Health Organization at 1,700 cubic meters per capita annually, while this share does not exceed 600 cubic meters in the country.

This rate was four times greater in the 1960s, when each person’s share of water was estimated at 2,600 cubic meters, according to “AFP”.

This has pushed Morocco into a state of “structural water stress,” according to a recent World Bank report.

According to Boden’s speech, “the damage to the water situation varies from one region to another due to the increased demand for water, which can lead to an unsustainable situation,” as he put it.

Boden claims that “the recorded decrease in water availability is an issue that cannot be postponed, and therefore the crisis must be dealt with through a long-term strategy to mitigate the impact of climate change and reduce economic and demographic pressures.”

What is the solution?

To cope with the crisis affecting the country, the Moroccan Ministry of Interior has instructed local authorities to limit water distribution when necessary, and to prevent the flooding of green spaces and golf courses with drinking water.

As part of this, the illegal exploitation of wells, springs or waterways was prevented, according to “AFP”.

In the long term, the authorities aim to build 20 desalination plants by 2030, which are supposed to provide an important part of drinking water, according to the Ministry of Equipment and Water.

According to Issawi’s speech, Morocco has built “seawater desalination plants”, indicating that there are stations in a number of Moroccan cities, with other projects being programmed in all cities on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts.

According to Issawi, Morocco has adopted a policy to rationalize the use of water for irrigation, using “drip irrigation and other advanced techniques”.

Boden points out the importance of “innovating new patterns of water management, using methods that adapt to climate fluctuations, and raising the level of water awareness in the community.”

Therefore, the Moroccan monarch presented a vision related to four critical directions, and the first one is related to the focus on “innovations and modern technologies and their role in saving water and reusing waste water,” according to Boden’s address.

While the second orientation focuses on the rationalization of the exploitation of groundwater and the conservation of water beds.

The third trend made water “a strategic matter of importance for many sectors to close the fourth orientation, which focused on the real cost of water resources,” according to Boden’s speech.

Boden touches on the “Moroccan National Water Program 2020-2027”, which aims to strengthen the system of dams, water connection stations and seawater desalination.

In early January, King Mohammed VI led the signing ceremony of the agreement of the National Program for the Supply of Drinking Water and Irrigation Water 2020-2027, which cost investments of 115.4 billion Moroccan dirhams.

The agreement defines the conditions and how to implement and finance the implementation of this program, which aims to support and diversify the sources of drinking water supply, keep up with the demand for it, ensure water security, and the effects of reduce climate change, according to the “official website of the Moroccan government.”

Boden believes that the results of the project will “provide tools to face the repercussions of drought and contribute to maintaining Morocco’s water security” during the coming period.

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