Coastal erosion, a very serious threat to Morocco

Several World Bank reports warn of the galloping erosion of Moroccan beaches and coasts and their impact on the lives of Moroccans. Coastal erosion also threatens the tourism sector, essential to the Moroccan economy. The international institution calls on the Moroccan authorities to take urgent measures to preserve its coasts.

With more than 3500 km of coastline, Morocco has the longest coastline in Africa, but this wealth that the kingdom holds and which translates into opportunities, is threatened with erosion. In less than 10 years, according to projections by World Bank experts, 42% of Morocco’s coastline will be exposed to serious flooding and severe erosion;

World Bank experts have projected their figures by 2030, taking into account Morocco’s meteorological specificities and also the phenomenon of erosion of Moroccan beaches and maritime coasts which continues to grow year after year and which can be noticed with the naked eye among the inhabitants of the coastal cities where the sandy spaces reserved for bathers at the level of the beaches has largely shrunk in recent years.

“Coastal erosion is a relentless process, which can only be exacerbated with climate change. The costs of inaction on coastal erosion are high, even if only land loss and property destruction are considered. There are also economic costs in terms of reduced revenues from sectors dependent on the quality of coastal areas, such as tourism,” says a World Bank report in 2021.

However, at the same time, the kingdom is banking on the tourism sector for the development of the country, which represented no less than 18.6% of GDP in 2017, providing 16.4% of jobs.

The research team conducted an assessment of changes in the coastal landscape, in terms of areas lost and gained, and found that between 1984 and 2016 in Morocco, the sandy coastline is disappearing at an average rate of 12 cm per year on the Atlantic facade and 14 cm on the Mediterranean coast.

These figures exposed by the institution for the case of Morocco, are 2 times higher than the world average. She believes that faced with the rise in sea level and the increased frequency of extreme weather phenomena, “these erosion phenomena will be exacerbated over time”, leading to consequences such as a high risk of flooding of coastal areas. lowlands and habitat loss while the share of the total population living near the coast is estimated at 65% in Morocco.

The World Bank notes that about “2 two-thirds of Morocco’s beaches are at risk of coastal erosion, and estimates that more erratic rainfall increases the risk of flooding from tidal storms and mini-tsunamis, citing the example that happened in Casablanca in 2014.

And to add that “the salinization of coastal aquifers, which will lead to water shortages, is expected to affect the central and eastern coasts of Morocco due to the rise in sea level”.

Coastal erosion from rising sea levels “has already become a critical problem in Saidia” due to its low elevation and beaches, the World Bank says. In Tangier, erosion is already estimated at 2 to 3 m per year and by 2100, if the sea level rises by 0.86 m, Tanger Bay should lose 99.9% of its port infrastructure and 63% from the city’s industrial zone, the study says.

High risks of flooding due to sea level rise threaten the Nador lagoon, the Moulouya river and its delta (a major estuary) and the low coastal plains of Oued Nekkor and Oued Laou, adds the same source.

These climate changes also threaten the historic city of Essaouira “through salt water intrusion, coastal erosion and land substance as additional pressure is exerted on water resources due to rising temperatures”.

The World Bank recommends several elements of which the first is to “enhance understanding of the impact and magnitude of climate change-related events across the country and how projected trends relate to key vulnerabilities in Morocco” .

To put in place a better agricultural strategy which should promote crops that require very little water resources, to strengthen intelligent agricultural techniques that respect the climate and water resources, to develop early warning systems on hydrometeorological phenomena.

It calls for increasing investment in weather stations and expanding the country’s national hydro-meteorological monitoring, introducing specialized university courses in climate risk and climate change in training and learning, and improving methods collection of emissions data for the agriculture and forestry sectors.

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