Drought drives Morocco to curb irrigation
A severe drought in Morocco for a second consecutive year has prompted authorities to restrict irrigation. “Despite the drought, Morocco has enough water reserves to ensure drinking and water supply even if it does not rain for a whole year," according to a statement from the agriculture ministry's hydraulics office. However, it said, "We have to ration this supply to avoid severe shortage problems."
To curb the shortage, the government earmarked some $600 million to buy cereals and fodder, dig water points and extend subsidies to farmers, especially on small farms.
Water stored in the country's dams stood at 4,663 million cubic meters as of September 18, the figure shows a filling rate of 33.3 percent, compared to 45.4 percent last year and 60 percent in 1998. The hydraulics office said restrictions on irrigation water supply may go up to 68 percent.
The authority said the measures were adopted in case the drought persists for a third year. The measures are flexible and can be adapted according to the volume of rainfall that Morocco will see in the new season. It normally starts to rain in Morocco by mid-October.
“Generally speaking, irrigation water supply from the Moroccan dams will start at an average deficit, despite the severe drought," the office said, adding that Morocco is suffering the worst water deficit since the early 1990s.
Existing underground water points also suffered a sharp decrease. Government figures show underground water fell by 43 percent from July 1999 to September 2000. The shortage will be particularly acute for certain regions and cities whose main supplies come from underground points, including the mountain city of Taza, the hydraulics office said.
The office said it will start a campaign to foster farmers' awareness of the need to save water to avert a severe crisis. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)