Morocco Records Three Drought Seasons Every Decade
Rabat - Morocco has recorded an average of three seasons of drought every decade over the past 50 years, threatening the country’s water resources and food security.
Rising temperatures and irregular rainfall have impacted agricultural production in the country including the citrus and horticultural crops in Souss-Massa, according to the MENAdrought project report published on April 5.
With only 15% of agricultural land using irrigation systems, the sector is directly impacted by water scarcity and drought.
In a bid to mitigate the impact of climate change Morocco has undertaken drought risk management initiatives.
The country’s drought-control and management efforts have received technical assistance from USAID, NASA, and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) as part of the MENAdrought project.
The project seeks “to enhance the self-reliance capacities of the nation to support ownership of the drought-management responses with the help of open-source data and software,” said the report.
The north African country has been part of the MENAdrought project since 2018 The initiative operates in Lebanon and Jordan as well and is expected to last until September 2022.
Financed by USAID, the project aims to support Morocco in mitigating the severe consequences of drought on food security and water in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Water, national institutions, and agencies. American partners such as the University of Nebraska Lincoln, John Hopkins University, and the US National Drought Mitigation Center are also part of the project.
The MENAdrought project focuses on drought monitoring and risk management through the implementation of a three-step plan.
Starting with monitoring, Morocco has used a map-based monitoring system developed by IWMI to anticipate drought conditions? as well as increase the readiness and resilience of Moroccan farmers, water managers, and policymakers.
The collected data is then examined to identify the potential economic, social, and environmental consequences of drought for better allocation of investments.
If the results of the first two steps prove to be helpful in co-designing policy and planning interventions to counter-drought across the country different partners will come together to “define the actions, roles, and responsibilities needed for drought response.”
The MENAdrought project aligns with the Moroccan government's efforts to shift from a crisis-response to risk-management approach to drought.
By early March this year, Morocco recorded the worst drought in 30 decades, leading to a series of government measures to alleviate the impact of drought on farmers.
Bank Al-Maghrib, for instance, called for the creation of a state investment fund to alleviate the impact of the drought season on the country’s economy.
However, the late rainfalls have restored hope for partial recovery of the 2021-2022 agriculture campaign, said Government Spokesperson Mustapha Baitas on March 31.
The recent rain has also filled dams by 50% in the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region, reported the General Directorate of Water on Monday.
The much-awaited rainfall had yet to cause damage to public and private properties in some Northern cities such as Tetouan and Chefchaoun.