Morocco experiences a noticeable deficit in rainfall, the severity of which has increased due to very strong pressure on water resources in various regions of the Kingdom. The current situation of water resources in Morocco pushes the country to take various actions to mitigate drought effects and rationalize the use of water.

The water situation in Morocco is unprecedented and extremely worrying, as water reserves have reached their lowest levels in most of the dams. Normally, during winter, water arrives to fill dams and create water resources, but this year is different and many measures have been taken to cover needs during the summer months.

Moreover, rainfall has been absent during the past four months. The last drought wave has existed since 2019 and continues with a large deficit recorded compared to the average, and it is accumulating, which consequently disturbs the necessary balance between supply and demand.

Since 2022, the supply of drinking water to urban areas, which represents only 10 percent of the water reserves, is no longer as guaranteed as it was before, also the agricultural water needs of irrigated areas cannot be met, which affects the use of groundwater, that suffers from overexploitation.

Morocco has suffered from the effects of climate change since 1980, which has resulted in drought, declining water resources, rising temperatures, and the spread of extreme weather phenomena (floods, heat waves...).

At the end of last January, the filling rate of Morocco dams did not exceed 23 percent, with very large differences recorded between regions. Filling rates in the dams in the east, center, and south of the country are very low, as is the case of the two large dams, the Al-Massira dam, which is almost semi-dry, and the El Ouidane dam with a filling rate within the limits of 5 percent.

In light of the current water situation, which is characterized by scarcity of resources in many parts of the Kingdom, it has become necessary to rethink water usage with responsible consumption, saving water, and rationalization.

Morocco king decrees an emergency action plan

Following the shortage in water resources, HM King Mohammed VI chaired last January a working session devoted to the issue of water as part of the ongoing monitoring of this strategic issue, particularly in the current context marked by a notable deficit in terms of precipitation and very strong pressure on water resources.

King Mohammed VI also urged the departments and organizations concerned to redouble their vigilance and efforts to meet the challenge of water security and ensure the supply of drinking water to all localities in the Kingdom.

In this regard, the sovereign invited the government to establish transparent and regular communication with citizens on developments in the water situation and on the plan of emergency measures that will be implemented, while strengthening awareness of the great public to the saving of water and the fight against all forms of waste or irresponsible use of this vital material.

Solutions to prevent further deterioration of water

Morocco has distinguished itself by managing its water resources, as it has succeeded in mobilizing a very large portion of the traditional resources of water, both surface and groundwater.

Morocco currently has 153 dams with a storage capacity of approximately 20 billion cubic meters, irrigating more than 1.5 million hectares, supplying urban areas with drinking water while significantly enhancing supply in rural areas, preventing floods, and producing hydraulic energy. In addition to establishing more than 167 wastewater treatment plants.

This policy is beginning to reveal its shortcomings because the supply no longer meets the growing demand. The population of Morocco today is approximately 38 million people, and large projects are being developed in the agricultural, industrial, and tourism sectors... all of which consume large amounts of water. The challenge today remains how to reconcile a declining supply with an increasing demand, in light of irregular water supplies.

Drought in Morocco is no longer considered circumstantial, but rather normal. The country has adopted water strategies to face water scarcity; the National Program for the Supply of Drinking Water and Irrigation Water (2020-2027) includes a set of measures to ensure adaptation to the situation of water shortage.

The country has mobilized the financial and technical resources to rehabilitate water infrastructure through the construction of many medium and small dams, water connection between water basins, desalination of seawater, and enhancing the supply of drinking water in rural areas. In addition to monitoring and repairing leaks in agricultural and urban networks, supporting local irrigation technology, reusing wastewater after treatment, and raising awareness of the importance of saving water resources and preserving them.

Consumers’ role and water use economy

Water is a vital resource that is important to many actors, who often have conflicting interests. During periods of drought, the state manages water scarcity by giving priority and exclusive access to potable water at the expense of all other uses. Strict instructions are issued at the regional level, depending on specifics, to rationalize water use, monitor and repair leaks in networks, prevent watering green spaces with water allocated to the city, close bathrooms and car wash units for a few days a week, and prevent filling swimming pools.

These measures have played an essential role in the process of sensitizing and increasing awareness of broader segments of the population. Reducing water consumption in daily life is a duty of every citizen. Every person should rationalize its use in bathing, cooking, leaks, and gardening... in order to guarantee the essential needs for the longest possible period in the hope that the precipitation will enable the country to reconstitute an important part of the water reserves in dams and aquifers.

The agricultural sector in Morocco consumes 85 percent of water resources, and therefore it is necessary to adapt the agricultural policy so that the focus is first on crops (cereals, sugar beets, sugar cane, and oilseeds...) to achieve food sovereignty. The country encourages the cultivation of crops that consume little water (olive trees, almond trees, carob trees, etc.), and prohibits the cultivation of water-intensive crops except in areas that have important and renewable water resources.