Date: 05 Sep 2009

Common Scarcity, Diverse Responses in the Maghreb Region

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Abstract

The Maghreb region faces a large increase in population and water demand for both people and agriculture. At the same time, pollution of the aquifers has reduced hydrological reserves. With a net decrease in rainfall during recent decades and the expansion of rural activities (agriculture and livestock), demand for water in the Maghreb is less and less satisfied. To face this hydric stress, several strategies are required to increase the efficiency of existing resources and develop new ones. Appropriate technical responses call for new equipment to transfer and distribute water and require the mobilization of nonconventional water: implementation of new techniques of seawater desalination, new equipment to treat and recycle wastewater, and the reuse of the foggara system, also known as the khettara. From an “equity of access to water” viewpoint, national solidarity requires the transfer of water from areas of abundance towards areas less well endowed. In order to respond to people’s needs while taking into account the unequal geographic distribution of water, it will become increasingly necessary to seek water from further away to sustain the cities. Coherent interventions require the design of new integrated strategies for the management of available water resources at all levels, including farmers, herders, municipalities, the private sector, and resource managers.