Morocco has turned to desalination for years as a promising means to meet freshwater needs.
Rabat – The Spanish government approved on Tuesday a loan of €5 million for Morocco to build two seawater desalination plants—in Assa-Zag in the Guelmim-Oued Noun region and in Moulay Brahim in the Marrakech-Safi region.
The Council of Ministers approved the loan, which Spain will grant to Morocco’s National Office for Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) through the Spanish Fund for the Internationalization of Enterprises (FIEM).
The project is in line with the development of a priority sector — water — for the Spanish economy’s internalization strategy.
Morocco’s government has recognized for decades the value of treating seawater to meet needs in cities experiencing water stress. Morocco has already adopted the approach by building multiple desalination plants.
However, Morocco’s water stress is on the rise. The country acknowledged that the dam filling rate this year was only 45%, amounting to approximately 7.5 billion cubic meters.
Throughout the country, water reservoirs recorded notable deficits since September 2019, when the national average dam filling rate was 54%.
To face water challenges, ONEE launched a drinking water supply plan. It emphasizes the importance of Morocco’s desalination of brackish water and seawater as a drinking water supply solution.
Several dams across Morocco are facing scarcity issues, including the Abdelmoumen Dam. The dam is a key source of water in Morocco’s Souss-Massa region.
Data from the Ministry of Equipment shows that the dam has a capacity of 198.4 million cubic meters. As of October 30, it holds only 2.3 Mm3 of water, or 1.2% of its total capacity.
In addition to Spain, Morocco also received a loan of €30 million as part of its partnership with the German Development Bank (KfW) in October.
ONEE signed the loan contract with the German bank, which will contribute to the supply of drinking water in the provinces of Tangier, Chefchaouen, and surrounding areas in northwest Morocco.
The program seeks to benefit 150 areas with a population of nearly 112,000 inhabitants.
The World Resources Institute (WRI) ranked Morocco among the countries under threat to face high baseline water stress. Morocco is 22nd in the overall ranking and 12th among Arab countries.
The initiative is part of Morocco’s program to reduce territorial and social disparities (PRDTS).
PRDTS, which launched in 2017 will run until 2023, seeks to supply 24,000 areas across Morocco with drinking water supply, electrification, schools, dispensaries, and other basic services and facilities.