Launch of a major project to tackle drought in Morocco
With financial support from Spain and technical assistance from FAO
11 June 2007, Rabat/Madrid – A project designed to support Morocco’s National Water Economy Plan was launched today in an effort to combat the country’s water shortage problem, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
During the past 20 years, Morocco has suffered from a constant water deficit caused by a combination of variable and irregular climatic conditions, growing demographic pressure and increased urbanisation as well as the development of the industry and tourism sectors.
This situation has had a negative impact on agriculture and farmers’ incomes. The Government of Morocco has launched a National Water Economy Plan which aims to reduce water losses during irrigation by restoring infrastructures and improving water resource management.
Within the framework of this Plan, Morocco requested technical assistance from FAO to mount a pilot project aimed at improving water usage in the Doukkala area (100 kilometres south of Casablanca) by introducing modern irrigation techniques.
The project receives financial support from Spain, with funds from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA). This is the first field project to be funded by the Ministry with technical assistance from FAO.
“This initiative is very important because it will enable us to achieve three objectives: significantly improve the food security situation, increase agricultural exports and boost farmers’ revenues”, said Mr. Mohand Laenser, Morocco’s Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Marine Fisheries.
The Spanish Government’s total contribution is 920.000 euro(about US$1.18 million). It will enable FAO to provide technical assistance and will pay for irrigation infrastructures to be modernised.
A new momentum
“It is an honour for us to help generate new momentum in the fight against drought in Morocco and to strengthen food security in this country, giving concrete evidence of Spain’s unfailing commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals within the required time limits”, commented Mr. Santiago Menéndez de Luarca, Spain’s Under-Secretary for Agriculture.
The pilot project, scheduled to last 24 months, will span two full irrigation seasons. Progress will be monitored by a tripartite committee representing FAO, MAPA and the Moroccan Government. Expected outcomes of works carried out in the Doukkala region include a diagnosis of water resources in the area, the definition of a modernisation plan for irrigation systems and the development of participatory extension methods for beneficiaries, with special focus on rural women. It will also enable plans to be drawn up for future investment.
At the end of the project a workshop will be held to evaluate the results and decide whether to replicate it in other areas of Morocco that suffer from water shortages.
Better use of water resources
“We are delighted with this project because the technical assistance from FAO will enable us to make better use of water resources in the Doukkala region, working together with the local administrative authorities and the beneficiaries of this initiative”, said Mr. Mohamed Habib Halila, FAO Representative in Morocco.
After the project signing ceremony, representatives from the Governments of Morocco and Spain, together with members of the FAO delegation, conducted a tour of inspection in the Doukkala area to examine the state of irrigation infrastructures and areas currently under irrigation.
Chief, FAO Information Office for Spain and Andorra
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