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Status of water resources and opportunities in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia Water in agriculture in three Maghreb countries
Abstract and Figures
The Maghreb countries are facing increasing water scarcity amplified by inefficient water use and overexploitation of water resources. There is evidence that surface water is diminishing and that ground water levels are lowering rapidly. The countries are affected by climate change as rainfall is more erratic and there are longer lasting and more severe periods of drought, alternated with severe rains and catastrophic flooding. The projected climate change impact on agriculture in the Maghreb will most likely increase further. This is accompanied by salinization of soils and ground water, even strengthened by over-fertilization of soils, combined with a general low productivity and misuse of water. The Netherlands has world-renowned expertise when it comes to water management and agriculture, and finding sustainable and practical solutions for water use efficiency, quality improvement and circular agriculture. In order to link the Dutch experience and expertise to the issues at hand, an assessment of the current situation of water use and water problems in agriculture as well as the challenges for improvement was needed. We report here on the assessment carried out to better understand the challenges for bilateral cooperation in the field of water in agriculture in three Maghreb countries: Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The assessment results will be used for making concrete recommendations on business and institutional cooperation between the Netherlands and the three individual Maghreb countries especially in those fields where the Dutch agribusiness, knowledge and technology institutions can make a significant improvement. The assessment included a literature study combined with interviews with experts and stakeholders in governments, research institutes, companies, international organisations in The Netherlands, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Reviewed were the: • The status and trends of the available water resources in relation to water use and water use efficiency in agriculture. • Important Government policies and development plans on water and agriculture including adaptation and mitigation policies for climate change impact. • Governance in Water Resources for agriculture on water efficiency, water reuse and water allocation at a national level and in focus regions East/South East and Souss/Masa in Morocco; the coastal zones and Biskra-region in Algeria; Gabes-region in Tunisia. • Development status and trends in water efficiency technologies, including use of drip irrigation, non-conventional water sources, sustainable energy for pumping, circular greenhouses, remote sensing and satellite data applications. • Status and development of relevant water-agri knowledge needs in relation to available Dutch technologies and experience. The outcome allowed a comparative overview of several key opportunities and specific technological developments and link these to Dutch knowledge and technology solutions available. For each of the countries we described most opportune cooperation opportunities shaped as business cases with the involvement of the local Government, Dutch and local private sector and knowledge organizations. For centuries the countries have tried to overcome water stress and scarcity by improving water policy and strategy, infrastructure development, economy of water use, wastewater, and desalinization, among others. We report that the three countries have become more vulnerable and are severely threatened by water resources responses to the changing climate conditions. Current water scarcity will increase with growing demand for water resources due to demography, the growth of economic sectors in particular agriculture that consume water. With current climate change projections and water use trends the relevance of water development policies will become more relevant, given that agricultural performance and economic growth of the three Maghreb countries is closely related to water resources and contributes strongly to the socioeconomic balance, regional stability, and gross domestic product. The need to mainstream this change into development plans is more recognized; the new constitutions have adopted the sustainable development concept, which opens opportunities for technological and practical improvements for the sustainable use and protection of the land and water resources.
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