Morocco’s King calls for a sound management of water resources amidst an acute water stress
King Mohammed VI has called on all stakeholders to urgently address water resources management at a time Morocco is experiencing a period of severe drought – the most serious in more than three decades.
The King, who was accompanied by Crown Prince Moulay El Hassan, made the remarks in a speech before the two chambers of the Parliament on the occasion of the opening of the parliament fall session.
“The current water resource situation challenges us all: government, institutions and citizens. It requires us to be frank and responsible in dealing with the issue and in addressing whatever inadequacies there may be,” the Sovereign said, noting that Morocco is not the only country facing the problem of drought and water scarcity. This issue has become a global phenomenon, one that is further compounded by climate change.
He warned that Morocco is now in a situation of chronic water stress, and not all problems can be solved by simply building the water facilities planned, notwithstanding their great importance and of the need for them.
“I therefore call for all aspects of the water issue to be addressed seriously, putting, in particular, an end to all forms of squandering and of irrational, irresponsible use of this vital resource,” he said, insisting that “the water issue should not be exploited for political outbidding purposes, nor should it be used to stoke social tensions.”
“As Moroccans, we should all exert greater efforts to ensure rational, responsible use of water. This requires a real change in our behavior regarding water,” he said, urging public administrations and institutions to lead by example.
The Sovereign also stressed the need to ensure optimal management of the demand in light of the accomplishments made in mobilizing water resources.
King Mohammed VI recalled that to face up to water stress situation, a series of preemptive measures have been adopted, since last February, under the plan to combat the effects of drought. “The aim is to make sure drinking water is available, to provide assistance to farmers and to safeguard the livestock,” he said.
Thus, several working sessions have been devoted to this issue, leading to the formulation of the 2020-2027 National Priority Program for Water.
He also recalled that since his accession to the throne, he has keenly sought to continue the policy of building dams. So, more than 50 large and medium-sized dams have been built, and 20 more are under construction.
Regardless of the rainfall we may receive in the years ahead, I am keen to make sure we speed up the completion of the projects planned under this program, in all regions and corners of the Kingdom, he said, referring, in particular, to the completion of the construction of planned dams, the development of hydraulic interconnections and the construction of seawater desalination plants, as well as the implementation of a stronger water efficiency policy, especially in the area of irrigation.
“In the medium term, we need to strengthen our proactive policies in the water sector and make up for lost time. It is both our duty and our responsibility today to adopt sustainable, integrated policies, commit to the spirit of solidarity and ensure efficiency under the new national water plan, which should be implemented as soon as possible,” the Sovereign pointed out.
In this connection, he stressed the need to launch more ambitious programs and initiatives, and to leverage modern technology for water saving and wastewater reuse purposes, and also to pay special attention to the rational use of groundwater and preserve the water table by tackling illegal pumping and the erratic drilling of wells.
The Sovereign also pointed out that water policy is not just a sectoral policy; rather, it lies at the intersection of a great many sectors. “This means we need to update sectoral strategies on a continuous basis, in light of the pressure on water resources and the future development of those resources.”
The King also brought up the issue of water costs, saying the real cost of water needs to be taken into account at each stage of the water mobilization process, keeping in mind the need to be transparent and to raise awareness about all aspects relating to water costs.