The region of Essaouira is the first beneficiary of the program, with projects worth more than MAD 1.38 billion (around €128 million) aiming to secure access to drinking water.
Rabat – Just two days after the official launch of Morocco’s 2020-2027 water plan, King Mohammed VI inaugurated several hydraulic, hydro-agricultural, and drinking water projects in the province of Essaouira, about 190 kilometers west of Marrakech, on Thursday, January 16.
The newly opened projects include the “Moulay Abderrahmane” dam, on Oued (river) Ksoub, a hydro-agricultural development project on the downstream of the new dam, and other projects relating to the construction of a water treatment plant and strengthening access to drinking water in the region.
The new dam cost a budget of MAD 920 million (around €86 million). The hydro-agricultural development project, meanwhile, had a budget of MAD 238 million (about €22 million), while the other projects aiming to strengthen access to drinking water had a total budget of MAD 227 million (around €21 million).
The projects are in line with the objectives of the 2020-2027 National Drinking Water Supply and Irrigation Program, launched on Tuesday, January 14, with the aim of consolidating and diversifying the country’s drinking water supply. The plan aims to ensure water security and combat the effects of climate change.
“Moulay Abderrahmane” dam
The dam represents a continuity of the policy of dams, launched by the late King Hassan II, aiming to put the agricultural sector at the center of a balanced and sustainable economic growth in all Moroccan regions. The policy also hopes to promote rural areas through the development of their agricultural production systems.
The projects are set to improve the supply of drinking water to the city of Essaouira and the neighboring regions, preserve the province’s groundwater, and protect the areas and infrastructure located downstream of the dam from flooding. They will also increase the irrigated agricultural area and the agricultural production capacity.
The “Moulay Abderrahmane” dam is an embankment dam with a concrete mask. It is 72 meters high on foundation and 418 meters long at the crest, and it has a storage capacity of 65 million cubic meters.
The new hydraulic infrastructure brings the number of large dams in the region to six. The region’s economy is mainly based on agriculture, livestock, and handicrafts.
During the inauguration ceremony, the Minister of Equipment, Transport, Logistics, and Water, Abdelkader Amara, handed the King two medallions commemorating the event.
Amara announced that the dam will have two main missions. It will supply drinking water to a population of 250,000 people in the region and it will irrigate nearly 1,200 hectares of agricultural land.
Hydro-agricultural development project
The hydro-agricultural development project around the dam aims to take full advantage of the benefits provided by the new infrastructure. It will benefit 1,207 farmers in the rural communes of Ida Ougerd, Sidi El Jazouli, and Ounagha, announced the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, Water, and Forests, Aziz Akhannouch.
The project, covering an area of 1,300 hectares, is set to increase agricultural production by nearly 125%, particularly for cereals, olives, pomegranates, and figs. It is also expected to increase the production value from 4,400 MAD/hectare/year (about €412) to 25,000 MAD/hectare/year (around €2346).
The new installations include a 12-kilometers-long main supply canal, along with a secondary and tertiary irrigation network, totaling 48 kilometers of canals. The development project also includes the construction of water intake points and treatment plants and providing support and technical assistance to farmers.
The King launched another irrigation operation on a six-hectare plot, before visiting a water filtration unit at the dam, a water intake unit, and a plot of land equipped with a drip irrigation system.
Securing drinking water supply
In parallel with the projects, the Moroccan government is completing an ongoing program to strengthen and secure the supply of drinking water to the urban and rural population of the Essaouira region. The program is expected to benefit more than 258,000 people by 2030.
So far, the program has supplied four rural communes in the Essaouira region with drinking water, through building a water treatment plant with a capacity of 250 liters per second and linking it to the villages through water pipelines. The communes have a total population of 33,000 inhabitants.
The project, costing MAD 135 million (around €13 million), takes into account the geographic assets of the region and benefits from the positioning of the dam, explained the Director-General of the National Office for Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE), Abderrahim Hafidi.
A similar project with a budget of MAD 192 million (about €18 million) to supply 12 communes with drinking water is underway, and will be operating before the summer, added Hafidi. The project will benefit 65,000 inhabitants.
Finally, a third project to supply eight additional villages remains in the study phase, announced ONEE’s director.