Morocco allocates more budget for irrigation programs to mitigate the effect of dwindling water resources

MOROCCO – The government of Morocco has increased the budget allocation for irrigation programs from MAD 115 billion (US$10.8 billion) to MAD 150 billion (US$14 billion). 

According to the government, the budget would go to fund the National Drinking Water Supply and Irrigation Program (PNAEPI) 2020-2027.

PNAEP is a state program that aims to accelerate the adoption of irrigation for farming and mitigate the effect of adverse weather on agriculture.

The irrigation program is part of a nationwide strategy to mitigate the effect of dwindling water resources.

Water security “is a challenge that the government is working on to address the water stress that our country due to successive years of drought and scarcity of water resources on the surface as in the aquifers, Morocco’s Head of Government Aziz Akhannouch said in the statement.

Morocco ranks among the countries with the lowest water resources per capita. As of 2022, Morocco’s agriculture remains largely rainfall-dependent, making it particularly vulnerable to droughts.

Morocco’s government issued a statement saying it is “adopting various measures to address the delay in the deployment of several projects, in parallel with the launch of studies on new projects that will see the light of day in the short and medium term.”

It added that “the government has ensured in this context to accelerate the pace of investment in this area and to strengthen the budget dedicated to the program that was raised from 115 to 150 billion dirhams.”

Between 1960 and 2020, the share of water resources per capita fell from 2560 cubic meters to 620 cubic meters, well below the World Bank’s recommended average of 1000 cubic meters.

World Bank research further argues that water resources per capita could drop even further by 2050 to 500 cubic meters per capita, approaching the international threshold of “extreme water scarcity.”

Following the presentation of the Resilience and Sustainability of Irrigation Water (REDI) project in January 2022, the World Bank pledged US$180 million in funding to the government of Morocco to implement the REDI project that will in turn strengthen water management in the agricultural sector.

Within this framework, REDI would support the creation of a pilot platform for tradable water allocation that will cover 98,000 hectares belonging to 20,000 farmers in the Tadla perimeter, a region located in central Morocco.

It would also support the implementation of the Chtouka groundwater contract in the Casablanca-Settat region to improve sustainable groundwater management, including the establishment of a commission of key stakeholders and the recruitment of a private operator to monitor and control groundwater withdrawals by farmers.

To strengthen water governance, the project plans to design, develop and implement digital water management and Agri-informatics tools, including two observatories for monitoring and evaluating the impacts of modernization at the plot and off-plot levels.

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