Morocco’s National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) is building on its commitment to develop the country’s southern provinces by attempting to solve the water scarcity issue in Tarfaya and Laayoune.
A new desalination plant expected to start operating by the end of June this year is set to reliably provide drinking water to the 230,000 residents of Laayoune and its neighboring populations until 2040.
ONEE reported the investment amounts to MAD 370 million ($41 million) and can supply the region with 26,000 m3 of water per day.
In addition to the existing desalination plant and underground water, the region will have a water supply of 62,000 m3 per day to meet local demand.
The seawater desalination plant is part of ONEE’s larger plan of strengthening the production of raw water, constructing three reservoirs with the capacity of 5,500 m3, building water pumping stations, and initiating a remote water management system.
On February 24, ONEE General Director Abderrahim El Hafidi visited the new seawater desalination plant with Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra governor Abdeslam Bekrat to examine the progress of the project.
They also visited the seawater tank site expected to be functional by 2023.
In 2020, ONEE invested MAD 3.6 Billion ($404 million) in drinking water and sanitation despite the COVID-19 crisis.
Head of government Saad-Eddine El Othmani praised ONEE for its efforts, describing the institution as one of Morocco’s local “major investors.”
In southern Morocco, extreme weather conditions are the biggest challenge ONEE faces as it strives to resolve the region’s water problems. In fact, climate change is one of the biggest threats to Morocco’s development agenda.
According to a recent report by the Center of Mediterranean Integration (CMI), Morocco is projected to face many water scarcity-related challenges in the coming years.
The country needs to build a more efficient and resilient water management system to face the sure-to-come climate change threats, the report warned.