MOROCCO – The government of Morocco has announced the launch of construction on the largest seawater desalination plant in Africa which will be located in Assa-Zag in the Guelmim-Oued Noun region and Moulay Brahim in the Marrakech-Safi region to address water scarcity in the country.

The seawater desalination project comes in the context of significant deficits of Morocco’s water reservoirs. In July the national average dam filling rate was 45%, down from an already low 54% in September 2019.

Minister of Transport and Logistics Abdelkader Amara on Tuesday said that the project, which has a budget of MAD 10 billion (US$1 billion), will function with a capacity of over 300 million cubic meters.

In addition to building the station in Casablanca, Amara said that his ministry completed in 2020 the construction of the water desalination station in Chtouka Ait Baha in the Souss-Massa region, and strengthened the flow of a number of seawater desalination plants in Morocco’s southern provinces.

The minister also announced the completion of works to connect the Tangier water system to the Khrofa dam, that of Agadir to the Aoulouz and Moukhtar Soussi dams, that of Targuist to the Al Hoceima dam, in addition to the hydraulic connection between the north and south of Casablanca.

The set of projects, said the official, adds to Morocco’s launch of five dams and completed construction of six dams in 2020 and the programming of five additional dams in 2021. Meanwhile, 14 other dams are currently under construction in various regions across the country.

In 2015 the World Resources Institute (WRI) ranked Morocco among 33 countries to face extremely high-water stress by 2040.

In addition, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected a continued warming trend in Morocco, showing an increase of 0.5 degrees Celsius in the country since 1970.

The proactive move in Casablanca follows Spain’s November 3 approval of a €5 million loan for Morocco to build two seawater desalination plants: One in Assa-Zag in the Guelmim-Oued Noun region, and one in Moulay Brahim in the Marrakech-Safi region.

The 2019-2020 season saw a decline in the rainfall rate of 5% in the Loukkos hydraulic basin, -67% in Sous-Massa, -50% in the Bouregreg and Chaouia basin, and -47% in the Oum Errabia basin.

The minister affirmed that Morocco has a clear vision to overcome the dearth of precipitation through the 2020-2027 National Drinking Water Supply and Irrigation Program. King Mohammed VI launched the program in January with a budget of MAD 115.4 billion ($12.6 billion).

Data from the Ministry of Equipment shows that the dam has a capacity of 198.4 million cubic meters. As of October 30, it holds only 2.3 Mm3 of water, or 1.2% of its total capacity.

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