Morocco has 3,500km of coastline which makes it particularly exposed or susceptible to rising sea levels. With most of its economic action near the coast and no legislation to prevent building in the coastal region, climate change is a real threat.
It has also been increasingly difficult for small scale farmers because they seem to find themselves competing for water with golf courses and hotel swimming pools because of the industrialisation of the islands, while in other parts of the country, flooding due to rising sea levels causes devastation because not only is land lost, but fresh water supplies are contaminated by salt water. Farming, fishing, water supplies, tourism and unique ecosystems are all vulnerable. So, what is the Moroccan government doing about this? We know that Morocco is joining with other African countries to ask the more developed nations at Copenhagen for money and a sharing of technology which will allow them to adapt in a better way to the potentially devastating and long term effects of climate change. Projects being considered or implemented include
The human hand is unquestionably present in the reality of chronic water scarcity and desertification. Overgrazing by pastoralists and indiscriminate crop rotation on arable farms in arid or semi-arid conditions sooner or later degrades the land irreversibly.
Development of industry, tourism and cities has mushroomed within Morocco’s extensive coastal environment, largely unhindered by regulations. Valuable wetlands and groundwater resources have been overwhelmed, exaggerating the risk of erosion and salinity from rising sea levels.
Nonetheless, there is strong anecdotal and scientific evidence of erratic rainfall patterns and increasing frequency of drought over the last two decades. The reduction of snow cover on the Atlas mountains is further evidence of warming. Faced with rising costs of emergency relief, the government has responded by commissioning the World Bank in a major scientific study of the impact of climate change on agriculture in Morocco.
The project claims to have sensitised its climate projection models to a resolution of 100 square kilometres, a very significant improvement over most African studies. This is especially valuable for Morocco which experiences extremes of climate. Minimal rainfall in the desert to the south is countered by the unpredictable deluges of the rainy season in regions to the north of the mountains.
The published interim results are reluctant to attribute too much weight to predictions beyond 2030, such are the uncertainties. For the period up to 2030, the study opts for a broad conclusion that climate change will lead to “gradually increasing aridity because of reduced rainfall and higher temperatures.”
In this scenario, the World Bank study suggests that crop yields can be sustained, provided that new input technologies are applied, that irrigation structures and flows are maintained, and that measures are taken to ensure sustainable land use. These are the Bank’s three building blocks for adaptation to climate change in Morocco. top Adaptation
An alternative and possibly more valid approach to this investigation might have started with households living below the poverty line, of which 70% are dependent on