Running out of water

Running out of water

Amal EnnabihAmal Ennabih16 September 202056min3580
Morocco’s water policies for irrigation have amplified water scarcity, it’s time to think differently

Morocco’s water policies for irrigation have amplified water scarcity, it’s time to think differently

 

 

 

Introduction

 

In January 2020, King Mohammed VI chaired a work meeting in Marrakech[1] that resulted in a program adopted by the government of Morocco called “National priority programme to supply drinking water and irrigation 2020-2027” (programme national prioritaire d’approvisionnement en eau potable et d’irrigation 2020-2027) with an investment of 115 billions of Dirhams (approximatively $ 12 billion). Among its objectives, it included (1) a rise in water supply by building new dams (2) a better management of water demand and water valuation particularly in agriculture, (3) enhancing the supply of drinking water in rural areas, (4) using recycled wastewater for greens spaces irrigation and (5) sensitizing and heightening awareness on the importance of preserving water resources and rationalizing its use.[2]Moreover, following the Royal guidelines as regards the program for water saving in agriculture, an overall budget of 14,7 billion of Dirhams (approximately $ 1,44 billion) was allocated to the supply of irrigation water, covering 510 000 hectares and benefiting 160 000 people.[3]

Such programs were set as a yet another response to the water scarcity problem Morocco is facing right now, which is likely to face a major water shortfall in the near future caused by “the expansion in demand of water”[4] and “the reduction in precipitation induced by climate change.”[5] However, water scarcity in Morocco is not linked to the increasing demand for water resources by households or the industrial sector (including the tourism industry), as both consume around 20% of the resources mobilized. In fact, Morocco’s water scarcity is deeply linked to the way water is used in irrigation, consuming around 80% of Morocco’s water annually.[6]

The agricultural strategy, that is based on a “store and save” water approach for irrigation, was implemented in a manner that makes farmers more dependent to rainfall and more vulnerable to drought. The increasing use of technology may have some benefits, but crucial issues persist. Notably, Morocco is prioritizing irrigation for exports and, for a water stressed country, exports of its agricultural products implies the export of a part of the much-needed water. Moreover, the current irrigation policy may have deepened social inequalities. On one hand, it mostly benefited big farmers, as the main beneficiaries of water policies are the entrepreneurs, the business farmers focusing on export-oriented production. On the other hand, the traditional Moroccan farmer that relies on rainfall and aquifers has not benefited that much from the modernization of the agricultural section and have sometimes created even more problem that it was initially, such as in Zagora watermelon cultivation projects.

This paper aims at to demonstrate that Morocco’s current irrigation policies make Moroccan society vulnerable to climate change. First, the paper argues that the country, through its hydraulic and agricultural strategy is actually more and more dependent on rainfall, which seems counterintuitive given the environmental context. Second, Morocco is actually exporting much needed water by favoring export-oriented agricultural strategies instead of national food security. Finally, this paper highlights how current water policies widen social inequalities, especially affecting traditional farmers, albeit invisible, as water access is complicated for family farmers thereby creating more social inequalities and poverty.

 

Is Morocco really facing water scarcity?

Water scarcity is defined as “the lack of access to adequate quantities of water for human and environmental uses,”[7] the term being used globally to qualify the state of water resources on pressure. In order to measure its levels, the most common indicator is the “water stress index” conceived by Falkenmark et al. (1989) by calculating the total water resources available to the population of a country[8]: if the amount of fresh water in a country is below 1700 m3 per person per year, the country is said to be experiencing water stress ; below 1000 m3 per person per year it is said to be experiencing water scarcity and below 500 m3, absolute water scarcity. Henceforth, the Economic Social and Environmental Council (CESE) sounded the alarm, on September 26th 2019, by announcing that Morocco’s water resources were depleted severely as they are currently estimated at less than 650 m3 per person per year, compared to 2500 m3 in 1960 and should fall below 500 m3 by 2030. CESE also announced that climate change could cause the disappearance of 80% of the available water resources in Morocco within the next 25 years.[9]

Another ratio developed by the World Resources Institute through its Aqueduct project,[10] helps better understand the critical situation the country is in. The baseline water stress ratio estimates the degree to which freshwater is available as it calculates the total annual freshwater withdrawal for the year relative to expected annual renewable freshwater supply based on 1950 – 1990 climatic norms. It provides an assessment of the demand for freshwater from households, industry and irrigated agriculture relative to freshwater availability in a typical year[11]. In their latest publication[12], Morocco ranked 22d worldwide, suffering from a high baseline water stress. In other words, with a score of 3.89 out of 5, the demand for freshwater approaches up to 80% of the annual renewable supply, leading to greater socioeconomic competition for water and a higher risk of supply disruptions. Projections elaborated in 2015 by the same institute announced a baseline water stress score of 4,68 by 2040, making Morocco at the 18th place. All in all, it is Morocco’s water security that is questioned and presented as the main challenge: how to make sure that water is “effectively, sustainably and equitably managed”?[13]

Since Morocco’s independence, the political display of water and irrigation public policies has driven the image of a country working towards water and food security. However, one cannot ignore the succession of emergency plans that continue to be launched to mitigate the catastrophic consequences of droughts. Why then, as they seek to address the structural consequences of climate change, public authorities persist in calling for emergency short-term plans? Does the postponement of the design of new water policies taking into account structural drought represent a refusal to acknowledge the modest results of past and current policies with respect to water security?

 

Policy of “Store and Save” water for irrigation: a questionable implementation

Water policies in Morocco follow the objective of increasing water supply through two levers of action: on one hand through the mobilization of more water, historically through dam building and more recently through desalination and treated wastewater reuse and on the other hand through saving water with the introduction of drip irrigation. This rationale of “store and save” water has however shown its limits in the way it was implemented.

Since its independence, Morocco prioritized the expansion of irrigated areas, which relied on a  dams’ policy (Politique des barrages) which started officially in 1967 after a World Bank mission a few years before. The idea was to push for large-scale irrigation, in order to fight droughts, raise agricultural production and achieve national food security. Building one dam a year and working to reach a million hectares of irrigated perimeters by the year 2000 became the nation’s mantra.[14] Forty years later, the country counts 144 large-scale dams and 255 hill dams,[15] between 1,500,000 and 1,700,000 hectares[16] of irrigated perimeters and yet it still suffers from water scarcity. Moroccans’ daily life is still rhythmed by alarm bells of “water security elevated risks,” “State emergency in water management,” “anti-drought emergency plans,” “water stress” and lately of “water supply emergency plan.” Thus, it is clear that building an important number of hydraulic devices for water storage and irrigation does not automatically prevent Morocco from water shortage. The misunderstanding lies in the way we see dams as the unalterable solution to water scarcity.

In the context of climate change and structural drought, a dam cannot be the go-to solution anymore. Morocco’s circumstances have changed: gone are the predictable succession of rainy and dry seasons on which Morocco built its water and agricultural policies. Now drought is structural, spanning many years and rain comes often heavily in short bursts which provokes material and environmental destruction, thus difficult to store appropriately. As stated before, a dam allows to store water (mostly rainwater and melted snow) in order to use it all year long and not only during rainy season for irrigation and drinkability.  The fundamental purpose of a dam is to stave off the effects of seasonality and passing droughts. However, when drought becomes structural, dams become practically useless due to the lack of rainfall. The filling level of dams provides important insights in evaluating water availability. For example, 40% of the main large dams surveyed on June 3rd, 2020 by the General Direction of Water attached to the Ministry of Equipment, Transports, Logistics and Water have a filling level below 50%.[17] Finally, building dams does not mean automatically fighting water scarcity: irrigated perimeters still need to be built, dams need to be maintained and preserved from sedimentation in order to keep their full volume capacity, hydraulic networks need to be built and maintained too. Unfortunately, it was often reported that many dams needed to be reelevated, that the establishment of irrigation projects were delayed or ill-equipped, or that hydraulic networks were leaking.[18] Such inefficiencies in policy implementation makes a conjunction of moments where water is wasted after storage despite the important investments allocated to such projects.

The issue of efficiency and water wastage constitutes one of the main concerns of water for irrigation policies on the international and national level. By integrating the National Irrigation Water Saving Program (Programme National d’Economie d’Eau en Irrigation)[19] as part of the Green Morocco Plan (Plan Maroc Vert) in 2008, public authorities have shown their willingness to promote drip irrigation, a technology presented as a water saving device that would help farmers “increase the value of water along the value chain  i.e more production and more added value per cubic meter of water and in a sustainable way.”[20] To implement such a program, public authorities have allocated a budget of 37 billions of Dirhams[21] (around $ 3.5 millions) and have offered a subsidized financing package covering from 80% up to 100 % of the drip equipment costs.[22] According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the objective was to save up to 826 millions of cubic meters (m3) of water  per year (514 millions of m3 from large scale public irrigation projects and 312 millions of m3 from private irrigated areas using groundwater) by converting 550 000 hectares of surface irrigated perimeters.[23] By 2017, 542 000 hectares were equipped with drip irrigation technology due to the heavy campaign led by local authorities.[24] Interestingly, as years passed, the saving water discourse has taken a back seat in favor of productivity and the famous “more crop per drop” injunction.

Between productivity and saving water, public authorities seem to favor productivity. Indeed, the Moroccan experience showed that in the end, the narrative of modernization and intensification of farming practices remains dominant. It’s been observed that farmers have mainly adopted the technology as it was a mean to attain a certain social status (image of a modern farmer) and economic gain.[25] As a matter of fact, drip irrigation was the occasion for farmers to convert their plot into higher valued plants such as onions or potatoes which demand more water, or extend their perimeter by investing into another plot where to install drip irrigation and dig consequently more wells. Moreover, practices of over-irrigation in order to achieve optimal yield were also often observed, putting more pressure on water demands. Interestingly, it is impossible to evaluate the “water saved” through this technology as there are few water meters installed in the perimeters and there are no official instructions given to farmers to limit their water consumption. As such, Morocco went from a policy that publicizes “saving water” into a policy that equips in drip irrigation and encourages intensification of agriculture.

In both the “store and save” water strategies, what stands out is the way technology takes over and diverts from the initial aim of the designed policy. It is important that Morocco centers its water policies on the practices (being farmers’ or public agents’) and on the evolution of the environmental context, and not exclusively on the technology, as technology is as effective as what we make of it depending on the context we use it. There are no automatic benefits by just installing a dam or drip irrigation. There are other factors that should be taken into consideration, such a climate change, and authorities should engage more with farmers’ practices through drawing contracts of limited water consumption and constantly monitoring water consumption for irrigation.

 

Irrigation for exportation: Exporting the much-needed water?

Since its independence Morocco’s water for irrigation policies were supposed to pave the way for food security and rural development. To do so, priority was given to agricultural intensification, through the implementation of irrigated perimeters. However, a large part of the production coming from such perimeters is dedicated to exportation and not to the national market. To better understand the issue at stake, 80% of the usable water resources (surface water and aquifers)[26] are used to irrigate 15% of Morocco’s “utilized agricultural land” (surface agricole utile)[27] which contributes up to 75% of the country’s agricultural exports.[28] Hence, the continuous emergency plans against drought and water shortage. The truth is that the country still relies heavily on rainfall for its food security, as observed with the impact of this year’s drought on cereals production[29] (mostly situated in rainfed areas), and is still heavily dependent on importation.[30] The prioritization of storing water for business development and the Green Morocco Plan (le Plan Maroc Vert) has only amplified this trend.

In 2008, the Green Morocco Plan came as a response to the country’s ambition to develop a modern, high-added value, high productivity agricultural sector. The policy, designed by a private foreign consultancy firm (McKinsey Company), has been showcased as the engine towards the transformation of Moroccan agriculture into a competitive sector “for economic growth and poverty reduction.”[31] To that end, the policy was divided in two pillars: Pillar 1, which focused on the capitalistic side of the agricultural sector and Pillar 2, targeting small farmers located in semi-arid and disadvantaged regions. However, the budget allocated to each pillar highlights the importance given to agricultural exportations as 75 billion dirhams ($7,5 billion) are to be invested for over 10 years on projects related to Pillar 1.[32] In comparison, investments for Pillar 2 were fixed at 20 billion dirhams ($2 billion). Apart from the inequality in allocation, the announced investments remain quite ambitious.

Water and agricultural policies are supposed to propose an encompassing model of both rural and economic development. However, it seems that public authorities gave more emphasis to the latter. It’s been observed that despite the announcement of an inclusive agricultural plan taking into consideration the duality of the sector, the focus stayed on the development of an exportation-oriented agriculture through the establishment of plant chains on high return (and for some, high water consumption) crops such as vegetables, fruits and olive oil necessitating permanent water for irrigation access.[33] Ten years later, agricultural growth is globally picking up.[34] Reports show that the average annual growth rate of olive trees production is 7,4%, vegetables 1,2% and citruses 6,3%. In terms of exportations, the average annual growth rate registered for fruits (dry, fresh or frozen) is of 13,5%, vegetables (fresh or frozen) is of 8,5% and fresh tomatoes is of 5,6%.[35] Meanwhile, the cereal sector – which Moroccans depend on for food security – remains unstable and highly dependent on rainfall.[36]

Morocco has built a paradoxically unequal agricultural water model: the water stored through multiple and expensive hydraulic systems is mostly exported in the form of citruses, other fruits and vegetables (business first) while small farmers have to deal with the consequences of lack of rainfall and depleted aquifers. Moreover, such irrigation policies do not even serve the objective of food security as 90% of the cereal cultivated areas are rainfed.

 

Current water policies for irrigation have deepened social inequalities  

In fact, the promotional effects of past and present water and agricultural policies with its catching numbers (budget, dimensions etc.) not only failed to guarantee food security but also produced winners and losers. So far, the first beneficiaries of water policies are the big entrepreneurs, the business farmers focusing on export-oriented production. One category of farmers is absent in the design of policies, the family farmer,[37] the traditional Moroccan farmer that relies on rainfall and aquifers to care for his cattle and its plot of land.

By striving to modernize the agriculture sector, Moroccan policymakers designed public policies adapted only to those who have the means to follow them in their ambition, at the expense of family farmers. Experiences in Zagora[38] and El Guerdane[39] show how conflicts emerge because of the inequalities in water access that were caused by Green Morocco projects. For instance, in Zagora, watermelon cultivation projects approved by the Green Moroccan Plan and where drip equipment were subsided has dried up a region that already suffers from water scarcity[40]. Not only the production of high-water consuming crops in a region at the doors of the Sahara is questionable, but also the usual mishandling of drip irrigation and the lack of rain push entrepreneurs to dig deeper into aquifers to get more water. Generally, family farmers do not have the means to take up the costs of digging deeper wells when they dry up. Aquifers are shared by both categories of farmers, when some take more, it means that others have less; leaving a population thirsty for water.[41]Hence, the numerous “protests of thirst” that have taken place in the last few years in the Zagora region have shown that sentiments of anger, humiliation and injustice are palpable.[42]

Similarly, the mere fact of building a dam and transferring water for the project of El Guerdane in the Souss region disturbed or stopped the access of water for a certain population who used the water of the Oued (valley)[43]. Building a dam diverted the course of the water depriving some farmers from it. From there on, the dam allowed the creation of new irrigated perimeters but deprived some farmers of their water. To put it bluntly, entrepreneurial farming is depleting the aquifers all within the legal and procedural framework of the Green Moroccan Plan and leaving family farmers struggling. Such inequality in water access and its social consequences are not addressed in the structures of the policies implemented so far. And seeing public authorities approving projects that financially benefit one specific social category while endangering the safety of another, by cutting off their water, creates a legitimate social anger and a real distrust of public authorities.  And that’s why, in times of dire crises, long drought for example causing cattle dying, drinking water cuts, social anger etc.., authorities resort to emergency plans.

 

Conclusion

Morocco’s water management is still rhythmed by water emergency plans for two main reasons. First, its “store and save” policies seem to be more focused on technical features than on water management and changes in farmers practices. Second, its water for irrigation policies seem to overlook family farmers whose livelihood still relies on rainfed land and cattle. This category of population invisible in ordinary times, becomes apparent in times of crisis, leading to social unrest, which eventually pushes public authorities to action.

The past and current water for irrigation policies have been unbalanced. Rural and economic development should go hand in hand through an inclusive approach, but so far, in a structural drought and climate change context, public authorities have favored water exportation at the detriment of family farmers. The policies implemented only accentuate the state of water scarcity which strikes the vulnerable first.

More importantly, a situation of scarcity is not set. Climate change results in less rainfall which limits Morocco’s water storage capacity. But it is important to also understand that water scarcity is constructed on water demand, the way it is managed and the political, social and economic choices that are made. Hence, Morocco needs a new water for irrigation policy that gets back to basics. Aside from being a driver for economic growth, agriculture should also be a driver for social development. The focus should be on improving food and water security and introducing a more equal access to water, leaving no one behind. To do so, the following recommendations can be made:

  • To move towards sustainable inclusive policies that cater also to family farmers by securing their livelihood (in rainfed areas) from threats of droughts and lack of rainfall. In particular, the following measures could move towards a concrete solution of this issue:
    1. To set up and enforce key water consumption metrics and quota (being for surface water or aquifers) in order to contain water demands and prevent water grabbing and unequal access;
    2. To support financially and technically rainwaters collection projects launched by farmers;
    3. To support farmers into adapting their practices (seeding date, etc.) to climate change;
    4. To generalize the inclusion of farmers in the production chains;
    5. To raise awareness for the importance of short distribution channels;
    6. To offer training and support to the young generation of farmers in rainfed areas.
  • To invest on crops adapted to semi-arid and arid climates rather than the water intensive ones;
  • To continue on investing on alternative water resources such as treated wastewater reuse and desalination in order to limit Morocco’s dependence on rainfall;
  • Finally, policymakers have also to focus on the way such technical solutions are implemented and their social implications, in order to avoid the inefficient use of the resources invested in these policies.

 

Footnotes

[1] “Le Roi Mohammed VI: 115 MMDH pour le programme d’eau potable et d’irrigation”, Médias24, January 7th, 2020 <https://www.medias24.com/le-roi-mohammed-vi-115-mmdh-pour-le-programme-d-eau-potable-et-d-irrigation-6659.html>

[2] See for reference the following articles: “Lancement du Programme prioritaire national d’approvisionnement en eau potable et d’irrigation », Libération, January 15th, 2020 <https://www.libe.ma/Lancement-du-Programme-prioritaire-national-d-approvisionnement-en-eau-potable-et-d-irrigation_a114762.html> ; « Le Roi Mohammed VI: 115 MMDH pour le programme d’eau potable et d’irrigation”, Médias24, January 7th, 2020 <https://www.medias24.com/le-roi-mohammed-vi-115-mmdh-pour-le-programme-d-eau-potable-et-d-irrigation-6659.html> ; “Mohammed VI lance un programme à 115 milliards de dirhams pour l’eau potable et l’irrigation”, Telquel, January 7th, 2020 <https://telquel.ma/2020/01/08/mohammed-vi-lance-un-programme-a-115-milliards-de-dirhams-pour-leau-potable-et-lirrigation_1663942>

[3] “Lancement du Programme prioritaire national d’approvisionnement en eau potable et d’irrigation », Libération, January 15th, 2020 <https://www.libe.ma/Lancement-du-Programme-prioritaire-national-d-approvisionnement-en-eau-potable-et-d-irrigation_a114762.html> ; Momar Diao, « Economie d’eau dans l’agriculture : Les composantes du plan septennal dévoilées », Finances News Hebdo, January 20th, 2020 <https://fnh.ma/article/developpement-durable/economie-d-eau-dans-l-agriculture-les-composantes-du-plan-septennal-devoilees>

[4] Taheripour, Farzad, Wallace E. Tyner, Iman Haqiqi, and Ehsanreza Sajedinia. 2020. “Water Scarcity in Morocco: Analysis of Key Water Challenges.” World Bank, Washington, DC.

[5] Ibid

[6] See Taheripour, Farzad, Wallace E. Tyner, Iman Haqiqi, and Ehsanreza Sajedinia. 2020. “Water Scarcity in Morocco: Analysis of Key Water Challenges.” World Bank, Washington, DC. Citing FAO (2018), it states that Morocco allocates between 75% and 87% of its water resources to irrigation. For simplification, we will use the estimate of 80% in our argumentation.

[7] Chris White, “Understanding water scarcity: Definitions and measurements », Global Water Forum, May 7th, 2012<https://globalwaterforum.org/2012/05/07/understanding-water-scarcity-definitions-and-measurements/>

[8] Falkenmark, M., J. Lundquist and C. Widstrand (1989), “Macro-scale Water Scarcity Requires Micro-scale Approaches: Aspects of Vulnerability in Semi-arid Development”, Natural Resources Forum, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 258-267 cited in Chris White, “Understanding water scarcity: Definitions and measurements », Global Water Forum, May 7th, 2012 <https://globalwaterforum.org/2012/05/07/understanding-water-scarcity-definitions-and-measurements/>

[9] Maïne Alloui, “Le CESE alerte sur la menace de stress hydrique”, Telquel, January 9th, 2020 <https://telquel.ma/2020/01/09/le-cese-alerte-sur-la-menace-de-stress-hydrique_1652765> ; The Economic, Social and Environmental Council : “Le droit à l’eau et la sécurité hydrique, gravement menacés par un usage intensif : Le CESE tire la sonnette d’alarme et appelle à entreprendre des mesures urgentes » (Translation : « The right to water and water security under serious threat from intensive use: The EESC sounds the alarm and calls for urgent measures to be taken ») ; « Document/ Sécurité hydrique: Le CESE tire encore la sonnette d’alarme », L’Economiste, September 26th, 2019

[10] The new aqueduct water risk atlas: what’s new & why does it matter to you? Technical Note, World Resources Institute, August 2019

[11] Ibid

[12] Rutger Willem Hofste, Paul Reig and Leah Schleifer, “17 Countries, Home to One-Quarter of the World’s Population, Face Extremely High Water Stress » World Resources Institute, August 6th, 2019

 <https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/08/17-countries-home-one-quarter-world-population-face-extremely-high-water-stress>; Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, World Resources institute, August 2019 <https://www.wri.org/resources/data-sets/aqueduct-30-country-rankings>

[13] Beyond scarcity. Water Security in the Middle East and North Africa. MENA development report. World Bank Group. 2018. Washington, DC

[14] King Hassan II’s speeches in Tangiers, September 18th, 1967 and in Oued El Makhazine, March 14th, 1974 as reported by Yassine Benargane. « Le 18 septembre 1967, le roi Hassan II lançait le grand projet d’irrigation d’1 million d’hectares », Yabiladi, January 18th, 2017 <https://www.yabiladi.com/articles/details/57533/septembre-1967-hassan-lancait-grand.html> and Jean-Jacques Perrenès. 1993. L’eau et les hommes au Maghreb. Contribution à une politique de l’eau en Méditerranée. Editions Karthala. Paris.

[15] « Amara: le Maroc compte 144 grands barrages et 13 autres en cours de construction », H24, November 6th, 2018 <https://www.h24info.ma/economie/amara-le-maroc-compte-144-grands-barrages-et-13-autres-en-cours-de-construction/ > ; ALM. « Barrages : 40 ouvrages construits et 35 en cours ». Aujourd’hui le Maroc. July 31st, 2019. <http://aujourdhui.ma/economie/barrages-40-ouvrages-construits-et-35-en-cours  ; List of built dams in Morocco from the Water General Direction attached to the Ministry of Equipment, Transports, Logistics and Water <http://81.192.10.228/patrimoine/barrages/barrages-existants/  >

[16] Taheripour, Farzad, Wallace E. Tyner, Iman Haqiqi, and Ehsanreza Sajedinia. 2020. “Water Scarcity in Morocco: Analysis of Key Water Challenges.” World Bank, Washington, DC.

[17] Daily situation of the main large dams <http://81.192.10.228/patrimoine/barrages/situation-journaliere-des-principaux-grands-barrages/ >

[18] « Un milliard d’eau perdu par an » L’Economiste. April 28th, 2004 <https://www.leconomiste.com/article/un-milliard-de-m3-d-eau-perdu-par >

[19] The program is actually the revamped version of « le Programme National de Subvention à l’Irrigation Localisée » launched in 2002 in the objective to implement drip irrigation in 114 000 ha. See Tanouti & Molle, 2017

[20] Mhamed Belghiti. 2008. « Programme National d’Economie et de Valorisation de l’eau en irrigation ». Ministère de l’Agriculture et de la pêche maritime

[21] Ibid.

[22] For details on the conditions see : Ministère de l’Agriculture et de la pêche maritime. 2019. Fonds de Dévelopement Agricole.Les aides financières de l’État pour la promotion des investissements agricoles.

[23] See François Molle, Oumaima Tanouti. 2017. La micro-irrigation et les ressources en eau au Maroc : un coûteux malentendu. Alternatives rurales. Maroc ; François Molle. 2017. Conflicting policies: agricultural intensification vs. water conservation in Morocco. G-EAU Working Paper/Rapport de RechercheNo.1. Montpellier, France ; Maya Benouniche et al. 2014. Mener le goutte à goutte à l’économie d’eau : ambition réaliste ou poursuite d’une chimère ? Alternatives rurales. Maroc. ; Saskia van der Kooij, Marcel Kuper et al. 2017. Re-allocating yet-to be saved water in irrigation modernisation projects : the case of the Bittit irrigation system, Morocco. In Drip irrigation for agriculture. Untold stories of efficiency, innovation and development. Eds. Jean Vénot et al. Chapter 4. Routledge. New York, London.

[24] Agence pour le Développpement Agricole. Principales réalisations du Plan Maroc Vert <https://www.ada.gov.ma/fr/principales-realisations-du-plan-maroc-vert >

Jean-Modeste Kouame. Irrigation : Magriser à la conquête du marché subsaharien. L’économiste. January 28th, 2019. <https://www.leconomiste.com/article/1039903-irrigation-magriser-la-conquete-du-marche-subsaharien >

[25] See Maya Benouniche’s work on the topic : Maya Benouniche et al. 2014. Mener le goutte à goutte à l’économie d’eau : ambition réaliste ou poursuite d’une chimère ? Alternatives rurales. Maroc ; Maya Benouniche et al. 2014. Making the user visible: analysing irrigation practices and farmers’ logic to explain actual drip irrigation performance. Irrigation Science. ; Maya Benouniche et al. 2014. Bricolage as innovation: opening the black box of drip irrigation systems. Irrigation and Drainage. 63: 651–658. See also the work of François Molle and Oumaima Tanouti referred previously.

[26] For further details see : Abou Bekr Seddik EL Gueddari. Economie d’eau d’irrigation au Maroc. Ministry of Agriculture. Rural Engineering administration ; Abou Bekr Seddik El Gueddari. 2004. Economie d’eau en irrigation au Maroc : acquis et perspectives d’avenir. Revue Hommes, Terre et Eaux. N° 130. Septembre 2004

[27] Ministry of agriculture irrigation webpage : http://www.agriculture.gov.ma/pages/lirrigation-au-maroc

[28] Ibid.

[29] Abdelaziz Ghouibi. “Campagne céréalière : 30 millions e quintaux à récolter”. L’Economiste. April 24th, 2020. <https://www.leconomiste.com/article/1061007-campagne-cerealiere-30-millions-de-quintaux-recolter>

[30] “La part du blé dans les importations se maintiendrait à une Moyenne de 63% à l’horizon 2025”. EcoActu. December 29th, 2019 <https://www.ecoactu.ma/la-part-du-ble-dans-les-importations-se-maintiendrait-a-une-moyenne-de-63-a-lhorizon-2025/> ; “Les retombées de la dépendance alimentaire du Maroc sur son secteur agricole”. AgriMaroc. December 28th, 2019 <https://www.agrimaroc.ma/dependance-alimentaire-agricole-maroc/>

[31] Présentation Générale du Plan Maroc vert. 2009. Ministère de l’Agriculture et des Pêches Maritimes

[32] Ibid.

[33] Akesbi, Najib. 2012. Une nouvelle stratégie pour l’agriculture marocaine:Le «Plan Maroc Vert». New Medit n°2/2012 ; Nicolas Faysse (2015) The rationale of the Green Morocco Plan: missing links between goals and implementation, The Journal of North African Studies, 20:4, 622-634

[34] The purpose of the paper is not to analyze the Green Morocco Plan results and its efficiency. The objective is to focus on the water allocation and its consequences on Moroccan citizens

[35] For more details on the evaluation of Green Morocco Plan see : Aziz Louali, Le secteur agricole marocain : tendances structurelles, enjeux et perspectives de développement. DEPF – Ministère de l’économie et des finances – Juillet 2019

[36] For more details see page 14 of Aziz Louali, Le secteur agricole marocain : tendances structurelles, enjeux et perspectives de développement. DEPF – Ministère de l’économie et des finances – Juillet 2019

[37] Nicolas Faysse (2015) The rationale of the Green Morocco Plan: missing links between goals and implementation, The Journal of North African Studies, 20:4, 622-634 ; Mostafa Errahj et al. 2017. Etude sur l’agriculture familiale à petite échelle au Proche-Orient et Afrique du Nord. Pays focus: Maroc. FAO, CIRAD, CIHEAM-IAMM ; see also Najib Akesbi analysis of the Green Morocco Plan

[38] Hassan Bentaleb. “La pastèque déshydratante”. Libération. February 28th, 2019 < https://www.libe.ma/La-pasteque-deshydratante_a106406.html>

[39] Houdret, A. 2012. The water connection: Irrigationand politics in southern Morocco.Water Alternatives 5(2): 284-303

[40] “Les pastèques seraient la cause de la pénurie d’eau à Zagora”. AgriMaroc. November 11th, 2017 <https://www.agrimaroc.ma/pasteques-penurie-eau-zagora/> ; “La culture de la pastèque interdite à Zagora?”. AgriMaroc. February 17th, 2016  <https://www.agrimaroc.ma/la-culture-de-la-pasteque-interdite-a-zagora/> ; “Crise de l’eau : Zagora, victim du succès de ses pastèques”. L’Economiste. Decembrer 4th, 2015 <https://www.leconomiste.com/article/981140-crise-de-leau-zagora-victime-du-succes-de-ses-pasteques>

[41] Sabrina Belhouari. “Pénurie d’eau : Zagora réclame son eau à boire”. L’Economiste. February 28th, 2018 <https://www.leconomiste.com/article/1024647-penurie-d-eau-zagora-reclame>

[42] “Dans le sud marocain, des manifestations de la soif contre les pénuries d’eau”. Le Monde et l’AFP. October 13th, 2017. <https://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2017/10/13/dans-le-sud-marocain-des-manifestations-de-la-soif-contre-les-penuries-d-eau_5200650_3212.html>

[43] Houdret, A. 2012. The water connection: Irrigation and politics in southern Morocco.Water Alternatives 5(2): 284-303

Amal Ennabih

Amal Ennabih

Amal Ennabih is a PhD candidate in political science at Sciences Po Lyon. Her research focuses on hydro-agricultural policies in Morocco and Tunisia. For her thesis, she studies the design and implementation of treated wastewater reuse policies for irrigation and their political and social implications.


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Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis

MIPA is a non-profit independent research institution based in Rabat, Morocco. Founded by a group of transdisciplinary researchers, MIPA’s mission is to produce systematic and in-depth analysis of relevant policy issues that lead to new and innovative ideas for solving some of the most pressing issues relating to democracy.



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