Drought remains a very real issue – Morocco’s UM6P is addressing it

Drought remains a very real issue – Morocco’s UM6P is addressing it
Kieran Baker

The Magrheb is one of the most “water-stressed” regions in the world, because of a combination of several factors: population growth, agriculture. climate change and pollution on the ecosystem. Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Libya all face demands for water that are higher than the demands of quality water available-per capita; water availability has fallen below 1000ms annually.  

So, what is being done about it? 

In a recent interview with Morocco News, Azzedine El Midaoui, the head of International Water Research Institute at UM6P asserted that “fundamental research lays the groundwork for understanding phenomena such as climate change and its impacts on water resources,” El Midaoui explained. “These insights are then leveraged in applied research to develop practical solutions to everyday challenges.” 

I have been to UM6P several times and have to say it is one of the most impressive academic institutions on the continent- unique in that it mixes the theory with the practical. So, it is no wonder it’s the focal point for addressing the very real concerns of water scarcity and management for the Maghreb. But for Morocco itself – worrying times: currently, Moroccans have access to less than 600 cubic meters of water per person annually, a significant decline from 2,000 cubic meters in 1960. Dropping below the 1,000 cubic meter mark signifies a state of water stress. This trend suggests that drought is becoming a permanent fixture, not just a cyclical phenomenon.

The interview with Morocco News was wide ranging: “Water research encompasses the entire value chain, from understanding hydrological processes to developing sustainable water treatment methods,” he remarked. “Every aspect, whether it be conventional treatment techniques or innovative recycling methods, contributes to our collective goal of ensuring water security for future generations.”

Academia and water both know no boundaries. Which is why UM6P is working across borders and fundamental to everything is the concept of “interconnectedness” and El Midaoui stressed the need for “collaborative efforts within the UM6P, along with partnerships with European and African counterparts, highlight Morocco’s dedication to leveraging scientific advancements in climate forecasting.”

UM6P is a key driver in research and is likened to the ‘Stanford of Africa’ and was one of the projects that has been fast-tracked by His Majesty King Mohammed VI. Afterall it was his address in Abidjan at the COP15 conference on desertification and drought in 2022 that emphasized the urgency of the situation.  “Climate change is not a theoretical subject or an object of rhetorical debate,” the King declared, highlighting the reality of increasingly frequent and severe droughts. 

The hope is that the ongoing discussion of water scarcity is not just about resource allocation but that it opens up a wider conversation as to how we tackle something so profound to the collective future of our planet. 


Kieran Baker is an Emmy award winning journalist who has started up various networks including Al Jazeera English, Bloomberg TV Africa and TRT World. 


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