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June 13, 2010

World Bank loans $ 70 million for Morocco’s sustainable irrigation

by Jen Balboa

Experts blamed drastic climate change for the drop in rainfall, which has resulted in widespread droughts all throughout Africa.

The World Bank has loaned $70 million to the Government of Morocco to help farmers maximize the Oum Er Rbia Basin’s critical water supply and avoid future water shortage.

The $115.5 million Oum Er Rbia Basin irrigated agriculture modernization project is divided into three components aimed at increasing productivity in the basin and promoting sustainable use of irrigation water.

The first stage will provide services necessary for high efficiency drip irrigation to participating farmers. The project will replace irrigation canals with pressurized systems and will also offer irrigation water on-demand, with a predetermined annual quota according to surface water availability.

The second stage involves giving participants better access to technology, financing and agricultural markets. Regional agricultural development offices will be given technical assistance to help farmers enter into partnership agreements aimed at securing markets for high value crops, use the new irrigation equipment and improve their agricultural practices.

The project will also provide mobile laboratory equipment to monitor the performance of the new irrigation systems.

Lastly, the project will assist implementing agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Fisheries with project management and monitoring. The agencies will receive computer equipment, vehicles and various forms of technical assistance to allow them to ensure good management monitoring and evaluation.

Oum Er Rbia Basin, populated by at least 4.5 million inhabitants, has been experiencing declining average rainfall. Based on figures tabulated as early as the 1950’s, rainfall in various parts of the basin dropped in the last two decades, with the largest drop recorded at -7.9 millimeters per year at the El Abid region.

Experts blamed drastic climate change for the drop in rainfall, which has resulted in widespread droughts all throughout Africa.

In fact, the United States Agency for International Development identified water scarcity as a key challenge and made preservation and environmentally sound development of the world’s water resources a top priority.

Ecoseed

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