Morocco: “disastrous” drought dries up river 


As Morocco’s Moulouya river dries up, the livelihood of farmers is threatened as they struggle to maintain their crops, reports Euronews and AFP. 

The Moulouya River stretches 520km long and is located in north-eastern Morocco. Its source lies in the Ayashi mountains of the Middle Atlas and flows into the Mediterranean close to Saida. 

The massively exploited river is used to irrigate farm crops, facilitated by several large dams along its course. As the sun beats down, less rainfall proves as a problem for the river as less water, paired with more damming and pumping upstream has left the river dry. 

Farmers such as Mimoun Nadori have struggled with the loss, following a six-year drought. Where the river once flowed from the mountains into the sea, it now sits stagnant, which allows seawater from the Mediterranean to creep inland, turning the source of life into a salty deadly poison. 

READ: Morocco’s drought crisis reaches new low 

Nadori commented on the loss of fresh water from the lake, where his family has long grown fruits and vegetables on their northern Morocco farms. 

“Everything was green” he remembered, “we drank from the river and washed in the river. We made a life with it”. 

To cope with the loss, Nadori started importing water for the on-site chicken coup he manages after two of his cows died after drinking the salty river water for over a year. He stated he never knew his cows were drinking from the water until they were found dead. 

“We won’t lie and say the reason is only humans or drought, it’s both”, he said. “We don’t know how to use water and we waste a lot of water”. 

READ: Morocco: “Violent drought” leads to radical saviour plan 

The river’s overuse has put new pressures on the reserves of water that lie beneath the ground as Moroccan farmers like Nadori, along with those on the other side of the nearby Algerian border, dig more wells to compensate for the loss of the former supply. 

Moroccan officials worry the situation has turned “disastrous” as nearly 70% less rain has fallen in the past few months compared to an average year. 

As the drought has lasted six years,  Moroccan officials have now devised a plan to salvage Morocco’s water supply. By 2035, Morocco plans to produce 1.3 billion cubic meters of freshwater from eight desolation plants, powered by renewables. 

Euronews and AFP. 


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