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Securing Morocco’s water supply

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Securing Morocco’s water supply
The streets of Fez in Morocco. After recording an estimated 3% growth rate in 2023, Morocco’s economy is expected to grow by an average of 3.5% in 2024. Image credit: Vince Gx on Unsplash.

Securing Morocco’s water supply

To secure a sustainable supply of water, Morocco has invested in several infrastructure projects.

The white city of Tangiers wakes gently at daybreak. Schoolchildren mill up and down the main streets of the old town, the medina, crossing paths with the crowd heading to offices and a few morning tourists.

Overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar at the northern tip of Morocco, Tangiers is a cosmopolitan city and gateway to the great continent of Africa. Every year, its timeless atmosphere attracts millions of tourists, who come to criss-cross its narrow-paved streets.

The guest house “Riad Saba”, in the heart of the medina, welcomes holidaymakers with immense care. On the terrace, guests are treated to the view over the port while enjoying a tasty breakfast prepared by Ibrahim Jallouli.

Originally from Oujda, this young chef came to Tangiers to take advantage of the opportunities the city could offer him. “I came here because it’s a city full of opportunities, which attracts tourists from all over the world with its cultural and gastronomic heritage,” he says.

For this young professional, the city guarantees access to essential services, particularly the availability of water. “Water is essential in my line of business. I use it every day, either for cooking, drinking or washing ingredients. I couldn’t manage without it. But I’m conscious that having continuous, daily access to water is a real challenge in Morocco.”

Dealing with climate change (Securing Morocco’s water supply)

Like many of the Kingdom’s citizens, Ibrahim is concerned about the effects of climate change on this vital resource. The region enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate, with the influence of the ocean keeping it damp and temperate.

However, its meteorological profile has been disrupted for several decades: temperatures are rising and rainfall decreasing, affecting the availability of water for millions of the city’s residents.

The region’s economy is expanding rapidly, attracting numerous industries, as well as experiencing a real population explosion. The need for water is increasing and placing heavy pressure on those who manage this precious resource.

The Moroccan government realised the scale of the situation several years ago and responded by launching the National Drinking Water Supply and Irrigation Programme (PNAEPI) 2020-2027.

Optimising water resources (Securing Morocco’s water supply)

Through the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE), the government is investing in a range of infrastructure projects to secure, strengthen and optimise water resources. The city of Tangiers has benefited from a project completed last year: a raw water supply from the Ibn Battouta dam.

Built in the late 1970s, the reservoir has seen its level drop for several years. With raw water supplies decreasing in volume, it was time to optimise the resource.

Until now, raw water from the dam used to flow to the Mharhar treatment plant via the riverbed of the same name. This open-air journey resulted in losses, mainly due to evaporation. An 11-kilometre water pipe has now been built to optimise the resource and remedy the situation.

The message is clear: water in Morocco needs to be conserved at any price in light of current and future climatic conditions.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) supports the ONEE and has provided EUR10-million in funding for the project. The AfDB has, until now, invested EUR 1.2-billion in the water sector of Morocco.

Supporting socioeconomic development (Securing Morocco’s water supply)

These investments are essential for improving the living conditions of the beneficiary populations and supporting the region’s long-term socioeconomic development.

This project points to Morocco’s forward-looking vision for the water sector: one of progress and shared growth.

Morocco’s economic outlook (Securing Morocco’s water supply)

After recording an estimated 3% growth rate in 2023, Morocco’s economy is expected to grow by an average of 3.5% in 2024 and will consolidate at 3.9% in 2025, according to a recent outlook from the ADB.

Morocco’s economic growth is slightly lower than North Africa’s 3.9 % average in 2024. The ADB report explains that the region has been adversely affected by the drought in Morocco and Tunisia, as well as the recent flooding in Libya.

Adding to the region’s woes, Egypt’s macroeconomic challenges have made it increasingly difficult to sustain grain supplies post-COVID.

Lack of inclusive growth and high youth unemployment have continued to pose social challenges more than a decade after the 2011 Arab Spring, the report argues.

In Morocco, inflation continues to weigh down on the growth prospects, according to the 2024 World Economic League Table report.

Inflation surged in 2023 despite promising economic growth, hovering at around 6.3%, a far outcry from the recommended 2%.

The World Economic League Table report had warned that rising inflation would be raising concerns about a potential stagflationary trade-off, pitting growth against rising prices.

Stagflation describes an economy that is witnessing stagnant economic growth (stagnation) and high inflation. It’s a situation where an economy experiences slow or stagnant growth in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) coupled with rising prices or inflation.

In addition to inflation, unemployment is also a factor undermining Morocco’s prospects for economic growth.

At the end of 2023, the country’s unemployment reached an all-time high level as drought-stricken agriculture – once the country’s largest employing sector- lost 157,000 jobs.

The massive exodus was partially offset by the creation of 5,000 jobs in urban regions. However, the overall unemployment rate rose to a staggering 13%.

Securing Morocco’s water supply

Securing Morocco’s water supply
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Securing Morocco’s water supply

 

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