Agadir – The Moroccan and German governments have extended their “multidimensional” partnership with a new program in the water sector.
On December 15, 2020, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Moroccan Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water, and the Environment ratified an agreement on “Rural Resilience,” building upon pre-existing cooperation in the sector.
According to Morocco’s Minister of Equipment, Transport, Logistics and Water Abdelkader Amara, the “program is aimed at strengthening and supporting the stakeholders at the local, regional and national levels through capacity building and support to rural populations for the identification and implementation of resilient practices in the face of the variability of water resources.”
The major goals of the “Rural Resilience” initiative include water resources management, poverty reduction, and resilience building. The program has a budget of MAD 61 million (€5.6 million), and will run until 2023. It is a continuation of the Integrated Water Resources Management Support Programme (AGIRE) which ran between 2008 and 2020.
With a budget of €22.7 million (nearly MAD 250 million), the 12-year-long AGIRE programme aimed to strengthen institutions within the water sector to a level where they could “guarantee an integrated, sustainable management of water resources.”
The program benefited the populations of the Tensift, Souss-Massa and Oum Er-Rbia regions, as well as Moroccan universities and public institutions working on water resource management.
AGIRE was concerned with the improvement of institutional, legal, and organizational structures. But it also dealt with improvement of communication and information management.
According to GIZ, the four issues at the core of the program were: “improving the monitoring and control systems in water management planning; protecting groundwater resources; promoting the reuse of wastewater; and reinforcing the participation of the various actors to enhance water resources planning and management.”
History of water management in Morocco
Water security has been a long standing concern for Morocco.
Associated with the country’s consecutive drought seasons are rising temperatures and decreasing dam filling rates.
USAID reports that Morocco is a water-scarce country with “dwindling groundwater reserves and a strong dependence on rain-fed agriculture.“
The World Resources Institute (WRS) ranked Morocco among countries threatened by high levels of water stress. The WRS reported, “The region is hot and dry, so water supply is low, to begin with, but growing demands have pushed countries further into extreme stress.”
Due to Morocco’s familiarity with issues of water scarcity, its water management programs go back as far as 1967, when the late King Hassan II launched an initiative to build dams throughout the country.
This marked the beginning of an institutional approach to water management, which concerned itself with both internal improvements and global cooperation.
More recently, Marrakech hosted the International Summit for Water Security in 2019. The event came as water security was becoming a major issue affecting socio-economic development globally.
A recent report by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) predicts that one-third of the world’s countries, including Morocco, will face high to extreme levels of water stress by 2040.
Rural Resilience, one face of a multilateral approach
As a consolidation of achievements under AGIRE, “Rural Resilience” is perceived as a spiritual successor of the program.
Between AGIRE and Rural Resilience, the conclusion of the program in 2023 will mark 15 years of cooperation between Morocco and Germany.
While a long history of collaboration only strengthens such relationships and brings about improved results, the Morocco-German scheme is only a part of broader efforts and investments Moroccan authorities have made in recent years in the field of water management.
Morocco allocated MAD 383 billion (over $43 billion) for it’s 2020-2050 National Water Plan, MAD 1.38 billion (over $150 million) for the 2020-2027 Water Plan. The country has also invested smaller funds in regional projects, such as securing access to drinking water in the region of Essaouira and the hydro-agricultural development project.
For the Moroccan government, such initiatives show that the country holds water management and its impact on the general population in high regard.