A workshop to prepare a contract of participatory groundwater management in the province of Sefrou, Morocco
In the frame work of eGroundwater PRIMA –Project , a workshop was organised on 18 October 2023 by the Sebou Water Basin Agency and Moulay Ismail University. The aim of the workshop was to initiate a dialogue between stakeholders (institutions in charge of water management and agriculture, farmers, local organisations) on the possible terms of a groundwater contract to ensure the sustainability of irrigated agriculture in the Ain Timguenay-Ighzrane-Ouled Mkoudou area. A large number of local actors and institutions took part in the meeting: the Sebou Water Basin Agency, local authorities, the Provincial Department of Agriculture, the National Agricultural Advisory Board, water management associations, 4 presidents of rural municipalities, an agricultural cooperative, public drinking water companies, and farmers from the area.
The various speakers emphasised the growing pressure on groundwater resources due to climate change and overexploitation. They underlined the urgent need to tackle the water crisis in order to safeguard farming activities in the area, and on the need to involve all stakeholders in the implementation of a contract of participatory groundwater management. The workshop began with a presentation of current knowledge of the aquifer and its uses by hydrogeologists from the eGroundwater team. During the discussion, the participants confirmed the sharp drop in groundwater levels over most of the aquifer, with the risk of a major crisis by next year if rainfall is not good and if no management of the aquifer is adopted.
The eGroundwater project approach since 2021 was then presented: a hydrogeological study, two pilot experiments to improve irrigation practices, the development of a telephone application, a series of workshops with stakeholders, and a trip to Spain to discover cases of effective groundwater management. Then, three functional experiences of co-management of groundwater in Spain, France and Tunisia were presented to show various mechanisms for setting up collective management that have been in place for several decades.
The Sebou Water Basin Agency gave a detailed presentation of the groundwater contract approach: the legal framework, the various elements to be considered, the difficulties encountered by initiatives of this type in the past, and the steps to be followed for designing the contract. The presentation of the groundwater contracts attracted a great deal of interest and attention from the workshop participants. The process for the coming months to prepare the groundwater management contract was discussed and approved by all the participants.