Morocco: New project to alleviate water shortages in Marrakech

Published January 13th, 2005 - 12:37 GMT

The OPEC Fund for International Development on Wednesday signed a US$20 million loan agreement with the Kingdom of Morocco to help finance a project to alleviate water shortages in the city of Marrakech. Construction of the Wirgane Dam is expected to boost potable water supplies by some 17 million m3 annually.


The availability of water in Morocco varies widely, ranging from an annual precipitation of one meter in mountainous areas to less than two centimeters in desert zones. This unequal distribution has necessitated the use of dams to help maintain an adequate supply of water during periods of drought. In light of Morocco's rapidly rising population and increased demand for irrigation water, however, concerns have arisen regarding capacity levels, and studies predict widespread water shortages if current infrastructure is not expanded.


This situation holds particularly true in the city of Marrakesh, home to more than 850,000 inhabitants, and where dams represent the primary source of water for both domestic and industrial consumption. Objectives of the project, therefore, are to secure additional potable water supplies from the N'Fis River, one of the most important water sources in the region, by constructing a new dam.


To be located approximately 60 km from Marrakesh in the N'Fis Valley in the west-central part of the country, the Wirgane Dam will be built with reinforced concrete and have a height of 71 m and length of 233 m. In addition to containing a spillway and four gates, a tunnel with a 70 million m3 storage capacity will be built within the body of the dam. All associated hydraulic and electro-mechanical equipment will be installed. Additionally, the capacity of the existing treatment station in Marrakesh will be increased by constructing a 20,000 m3 collecting reservoir and basins for treating and filtering water. Another component of the project will entail the compensation and resettlement of some 1,200 individuals.


The Kingdom of Morocco has previously received 12 loans from the OPEC Fund, supporting projects in the agriculture, education, energy, health, national development banks and water supply and sewerage sectors. The country has also benefited from technical assistance grants in the areas of agriculture and energy.


This agreement was signed in Vienna by Mr. Redouane Houssaini, Counsellor of Foreign Affairs and Chargé d'Affaires ai of the Kingdom of Morocco to Austria , and by Mr. Jamal Nasser Lootah, Chairman of the Governing Board of the OPEC Fund.


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