SEATTLE — Like many African countries, Morocco struggles with limited access to water and a lack of proper sanitation methods. With scarce ground-water reserves, the country relies heavily on rainfall to sustain its agricultural practices. As a result, only around 15 percent of Moroccan land is irrigated and about one-third of citizens have access to clean, drinkable water. Furthermore, mismanagement of water quality in Morocco leads to the contamination of otherwise potable water, leaving people vulnerable to waterborne illnesses and infection. Poor infrastructure and disorganization mean 35 percent of all potable water is lost before it ever has the chance to be used.
All too often, environmental factors like drought compromise water availability and have a drastic impact on poverty. Those living in rural areas are especially affected. Of the four million Moroccans living in poverty, three million live in rural regions where the level of water quality in the country is the lowest.
Progress has been made in recent decades to rectify the water crisis in the country. In 1997, the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program, also known as PAGER, was launched in an effort to increase the access to clean water in rural populations. The program was guided by two primary principles: the use of cost-effective technologies that could be supported by local economies and the participation of beneficiaries to promote community engagement.
Although there is still much work to be done in improving water quality in Morocco, it is comforting to know that there are ongoing efforts to address the problem. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provides invaluable relief to the country. Most recently, the agency developed a text-based service that provides personalized irrigation guidance to Moroccan farmers about the best water conservation practices.
Innovative efforts such as these are imperative in the fight for clean water in poor countries, like Morocco. Such mechanisms are only available as a result of foreign aid, making it crucial for funding for these programs to be preserved.
– Micaela Fischer