Sunday, March 25, 2018

Morocco Awaits a Thirsty Future

Despite ambitious plans to improve renewable energy and water supplies, Morocco looks likely to be badly affected by North Africa’s rising heat.

Morocco, host of the 2016 United Nations conference on climate change and widely seen as one of the more enlightened among North African and Middle Eastern nations on environmental issues, is facing a range of problems associated with global warming, including ever-increasing water shortages.

In recent years drought in what is one of the most water-stressed regions of the world has caused severe damage to the economies of Morocco and neighbouring North African states.

In 2015/2016 a prolonged drought caused Morocco’s production of grain to plummet by more than 70%.  In 2017 water shortages became acute and the country’s king, Muhammed VI, issued a decree calling on the faithful at mosques throughout the country to pray for rain.

The droughts have led to social unrest in what till now has been considered one of the more politically stable countries in the region.

Protests over what has been seen as government inaction and incompetence have broken out in several areas; in November last year 15 people were crushed to death as hungry farming families queued for supplies of flour.

A bad situation looks likely to become worse.  Latest research by the Brookings Institution in the US predicts that climate change is going to result in average temperatures rising across the North African region by 3°C by 2050.

Rainfall over much of Morocco is anticipated to decline by 10% at the same time as water usage rates rise substantially.

“Higher temperatures, less rainfall and increased land salinity in a country that is already suffering from insufficient water resources do not augur well for the future of agriculture, unless urgent action is taken now,” says the Brookings research.

Desert spread
There is also concern that, along with warming, the Sahara desert could advance northwards, further threatening Morocco’s important agricultural sector, which accounts for 15% of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 40% of the country’s workforce.

Read more at Morocco Awaits a Thirsty Future

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