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Water for the future: Tangiers takes steps to secure its blue gold

Sunday, 28 April 2024 18:43
Water for the future: Tangiers takes steps to secure its blue gold

(AfDB) - The white city of Tangiers wakes gently at daybreak. Schoolchildren mill up and down the main streets of the old town, the medina, crossing paths with the crowd heading to offices and a few morning tourists.

Overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar at the northern tip of Morocco, Tangiers is a cosmopolitan place and gateway to the great continent of Africa. Every year, its timeless atmosphere attracts millions of tourists, who come to criss-cross its narrow paved streets.

The guest house “Riad Saba”, in the heart of the medina, welcomes holidaymakers with immense care. On the terrace, guests are treated to the view over the port while enjoying a tasty breakfast prepared by Ibrahim Jallouli.

Originally from Oujda, this young chef came to Tangiers to take advantage of the opportunities the city could offer him. “I came here because it’s a city full of opportunities, which attracts tourists from all over the world with its cultural and gastronomic heritage,” he comments.

For this young professional, the city guarantees access to essential services, particularly the availability of water. “Water is essential in my line of business. I use it every day, either for cooking, drinking or washing ingredients. I couldn’t manage without it. But I’m conscious that having continuous, daily access to water is a real challenge in Morocco.”

Like many of the Kingdom’s citizens, Ibrahim is concerned about the effects of climate change on this vital resource. The region enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate, with the influence of the ocean keeping it damp and temperate.

However, its meteorological profile has been disrupted for several decades: temperatures are rising and rainfall decreasing, affecting the availability of water for millions of the city’s residents.

The region’s economy is expanding rapidly, attracting numerous industries, as well as experiencing a real population explosion. The need for water is increasing and placing heavy pressure on those who manage this precious resource.

The Moroccan government realised the scale of the situation several years ago and responded by launching the National Drinking Water Supply and Irrigation Programme (PNAEPI) 2020-2027.

Through the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE), the government is investing in a range of infrastructure projects to secure, strengthen and optimize water resources, with support from the African Development Bank. The city of Tangiers has benefited from a project completed in 2023: a raw water supply from the Ibn Battouta dam.

Built in the late 1970s, the reservoir has seen its level drop for several years. With raw water supplies decreasing in volume, it was time to optimize the resource. Until now, raw water from the dam used to flow to the Mharhar treatment plant via the riverbed of the same name. This open-air journey resulted in losses, mainly due to evaporation. An 11-kilometre water pipe has now been built to optimize the resource and remedy the situation.

The message is clear: water in Morocco needs to be conserved at any price in light of current and future climatic conditions. This philosophy is shared by the African Development Bank, which is helping Morocco to maintain its momentum. As a result, Africa’s premier development finance institution has supported the ONEE by providing EUR 10 million in funding for the project. This is in addition to the overall amount of EUR 1.2 billion already invested in the water sector in Morocco.

These investments are essential for improving the living conditions of the beneficiary populations and supporting the region’s long-term socioeconomic development. As Ibrahim, our young chef, recalls, “For me, water is life. If there were no water, there would be no life.”

This project, among many others, points to Morocco’s forward-looking vision for the water sector: one of progress and shared growth. 

1982 agency

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ECOFIN AGENCY offers a selection of articles translated from AGENCE ECOFIN. Founded in 2011, Agence Ecofin is a leader in Francophone Pan-African economic news, particularly in West and Central Africa. The agency publishes daily news on nine African economic sectors: Public Management, Finance, ICT, Agribusiness, Energy, Mining, Transport & Logistics, Communication, and Training.

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