Morocco gets international water prize
Morocco, Economics, 5/31/2000
Morocco obtained the International Water Prize on the sidelines of the second international symposium on water held in Cannes, southern France, May 29-31.
The prize was awarded to Morocco in recognition of research and training efforts made in the frame of the two UNESCO chairs in the Moroccan university that deal with lasting development and water, a release by the Moroccan ministry of Higher education said.
Minister of higher education, vocational training and scientific research, Najib Zerouali, who led the Moroccan delegation to the symposium -- cosponsored by the UNESCO and the Mediterranean Water Resources Network -- called the international community to seriously consider the void in international regulations concerning water, at a time the resource is becoming a source of conflicts between countries. He stressed the need to adopt international laws on water and on water-related conflicts.
Zerouali surveyed the water policy adopted by Morocco since the early days of independence and recalled that the coming session of the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco will debate Morocco's water policy and food security at the dawn of the 21st century.
Morocco, a country with a semi-arid weather, has realized since the early years of independence from France in 1956 the importance of enforcing an efficient water management policy to spare its growing populations the hazards of the severe drought that hits the country on a cyclic basis.
The first dam constructed in Morocco in the 20th century was built in 1929 on the Oum Rabii river to supply the then small town of Casablanca (now the largest city in Morocco and in North Africa) with drinking water.
The water management policy remained shy until 1966. In 38 years, only 15 dams with a global capacity of 2 billion cubic meters, were built.
In 1967, the Late King Hassan II gave a new impetus to the dams construction policy, when he decided to build six dams, part of an ambitious program for the irrigation of 1 million hectares in year 2000.
A national authority in charge of water affairs was set up the same year with the prime objective to implement the irrigation project and to reduce, at a later stage, Morocco's dependence on abroad in matters of energy products.
Morocco can produce, with an average rainfall, some 2570 mgw of hydraulic energy.
In addition to irrigating more than 1 million hectares, Morocco's water policy also seeks to produce over 800 million cubic meters annually of drinking and industrial water.
Last year, the kingdom held in Paris an exhibition on "Morocco, Water Spirit" highlighting Morocco's centuries-old know-how in water prospecting and preservation. The exhibition displayed tools, photos and various items and screened films depicting both traditional and modern techniques used to prospect, drain, store and distribute water.
The event enabled visitors to get informed on Morocco's refined know-how in water harnessing and on the ingenious and complex techniques (seguiat, khettaras, norias...) used to meet people's needs in drinking or irrigation water whether in the desert, the mountain or in the plain.
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