After a year 2022 of drought and water shortage, will 2023 be better?

Rising temperatures, repeated heat waves, falling rainfall and the impact of inclement global warming with worrying economic and social consequences, water shortages, drought, drying up of groundwater, fires and other fatalities… a look back at an extraordinary year.

The year 2022 was very hot, but also one of the least wet in more than four decades (1976 and the 80s) due to its mild winter and its scorching summer. Above all, it was marked by a “historic drought” which was one of the longest and most extensive in space and time. Also from such a context, it was clear that the soils of the Kingdom having suffered the most severe and violent drought recorded throughout the national territory, and have seen more, than ever, an exceptionally low humidity index .

This had the effect of sometimes paradoxically preventing them from absorbing the little rainfall that fell, making them less fertile. Dry wadis, lakes and dams emptied of their raw substance, sometimes even silted up, with serious collateral consequences, water shortages and threats for the agricultural sector and even for drinking water, fires that are difficult to fight ravaging forests in the north and the oasis in the south… in short, not pretty!

The lack of rainfall has caused the average level of dam reserves to fluctuate between a quarter and a fifth throughout the year and it is only now, after the last rainfall in December, that it has reached close to the third to 31.4% against 37% in the same period a year ago. In this context, only the Al Wahda dam, with a normal water retention capacity of 3,522.3 million m3, holds its own in view of the country’s exceptional water situation with its filling rate of 55, 1%, compared to 59.6%, at the same period in 2021.

But in view of other mythical dams, almost silted up, Bin El Ouidane (11.1%), or Al Massira (3.8%) second largest dam in Morocco, we can lament. Idriss 1er, the last dam with a capacity of four figures 1129.6 million m3 also saves the deal with a filling rate of 24.7% against almost double on the same date in 2021. This reflects the water situation that the Kingdom is currently experiencing. From this overview, we can measure the real problem of water scarcity linked to drought in the country.

This issue of water precisely, the Sovereign made it a priority alongside that of investment during his speech to the deputies on the occasion of the opening of the first session of the 2nd legislative year of the eleventh legislature last October. King Mohammed VI has drawn up a three-pronged roadmap, the use of innovations and new technologies in the field of water saving, special attention to the rational exploitation of groundwater and the preservation of groundwater groundwater and finally over waste, water not being an issue exclusively dedicated to a single sector.

Also, it must be the subject of everyone’s concerns, for an appropriate water saving. We note in particular that the royal speech called for ” a diligent treatment of the problem of water, in all its dimensions, and in particular a break with all forms of waste or anarchic and irresponsible exploitation of this vital resource”.

In a 2nd time, it will be question of ” strengthen the proactive water policy, and catch up in this area“, recommended the Sovereign. Through his message to the Nation, the King launched the la to go on the offensive in the management of our water resources in order to fully enroll in the National Program for Drinking Water Supply and Irrigation (PNAEPI) 2022 -2027 already implemented.

However, as the water deficit worsened, the supervisory authorities had to take certain measures, not to say restrictions, some of which were lifted following the recent rains.

Thus in Morocco, agricultural dams will only be able to irrigate in 2022/2023 around 417,000 hectares, i.e. 74% less area than last year. The announcement was made in mid-November by the Minister of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development and Waters and Forests, Mohamed Sadiki. This drop in the irrigated agricultural area, the Minister explained by the severe drought that struck the Kingdom.

The water stress had ended up getting the better of the authorities to the point of giving priority to the supply of drinking water to the populations and suspending in particular the irrigation from the agricultural dams of the lands located in the provinces of Tadla and Al Haouz as well as in the Doukkala and Drâa-Tafilalet regions.

Nizar Baraka, Minister of Equipment and Water, taking stock of the water situation in Morocco, detailed the measures taken and the projects to be implemented in the face of this scourge. As for the water situation for the year 2022, the rainfall, from September 1, 2021 to August 31, 2022, varied on average between 16.4 mm and 325 mm, hence a deficit of 47% at the national level in relation to the rate of precipitation.

The total volume of water recorded on all the dams is about 1.95 billion cubic meters. This is the lowest annual volume ever recorded, which constitutes an estimated deficit of 85% compared to the annual average of imports and 63% compared to last year.

The Minister further indicated that the Kingdom also experienced, during (2018 to 2022), a succession of dry years, with annual deficit rates estimated at 54%, 71%, 59% and 85% respectively. The national filling rate of dams, as of August 31, 2022, was 25.81% as a total filling rate, against 40.5%. % recorded on the same date last year.

As for the second half of the year, thanks to the latest rainfall (between 20.5 and 236 mm), it reached 31.1% in total filling rate, against 34.3% recorded on the same date last year. This constituted a deficit of 29% compared to the annual filling rate.

Nizar Baraka, and within the framework of the PNAEPI 2022-2027 (provisional budget of 115 billion dirhams), indicated the measures taken during this financial year, such as the start-up of the Chtouka Ait Baha seawater desalination plant in the Souss-Massa region, the call for expressions of interest for that of Casablanca-Settat, the programming of the completion of another in the Oriental region and the construction of hill dams and small dams.

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