Morocco: “violent drought” leads to radical saviour plan

Morocco: “violent drought” leads to radical saviour plan

After six consecutive years of drought, Morocco comes up with a radical plan to build new waterways and dams according to The Arab Weekly and Agencies.

The ongoing drought has prompted a big drop in the area of land being irrigated. Moroccan dams are at critical levels says Morocco’s water and agriculture ministers.

On the 16th of January, water minister Nizar Baraka stated that by mid-January rainfall was 70% lower than in an average year, according to a royal palace statement.

Baraka added that the countries average dam filling rate had dropped to 23.2%, down from 31.5% a year earlier. On top of this, Morocco’s second biggest dam, Al Masira, that serves as the economic hub of Casablanca is almost empty.

As this is the worst drought in over two decades, authorities have banned using drinking water to clean streets and dam water to irrigate some key farming areas.

Agriculture minister, Mohamed Sadiki stated that this “violent drought” had forced a decrease in the dam-irrigated area from 750,000 to 400,000 hectares before the dry spell.

Farmers are shocked with this decision. Mbark N’ Ait Ali, a banana and vegetable farmer in Taroudant stated “Stopping dam irrigation has snapped my investments”. He continued saying “this year’s production is in danger”.

Located in the Souss region, Taroudant is a major source of export revenue. It is the main region for Morocco’s fresh produce and supplies supermarkets across Europe. This means that the economy’s annual growth is hindered.

Along with the empty dams, wells are drying up in the area. Farmers are having to dig down 400 meters with no certainty that they will find enough water. “Autumn crops are at a critical condition … we pray for rain,” stated N’Ait Ali.

Morocco statistics agency expects the cereal harvest to be less than average this year. Ploughed wheat area has dropped 1.35 million hectares from 2023, which was also a dry year. This means more wheat imports.

By 2035, Moroccos radical plan hopes to produce 1.3 billion cubic metres of fresh water from 8 desalination plants, powered by renewables.

Still, farmers are worried that this plan hasn’t come soon enough. “We are afraid it will be too late when desalination will be ready to irrigate our farms,” said N’Ait Ali.

Arab Weekly/Agencies


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