Poor water management
As Akchbab explains, the causes of water scarcity include demographic pressure on water resources as well as poor management and the misuse of water. He also points out that there is a lack of vision and that the state has no plan or strategy to meet the challenges and achieve water security. He adds: "There is significant under-investment in water facilities, not to mention the adoption of agriculture that is unsustainable and unsuitable. That is what led to the protests in Zagora in 2017."
Moroccan King Mohammed VI warned officials about the water crisis and ordered them to form a body to address the situation and to provide drinking water for all. The Association of the Friends of the Environment, however, says that the situation has worsened and that the crisis has even spread to areas in northern and central Morocco.
While the inhabitants of Zagora are suffering from shortages of potable water and inadequate rainfall, this dry and semi-desert area is known for the cultivation of fresh, sweet-tasting watermelon and this requires large amounts of water.
As Akchbab says: "The water shortages affecting the region are directly related to the cultivation of watermelons. For the past 10 years, the region has suffered from this kind of agriculture, which consumes large quantities of groundwater."
The Association of the Friends of the Environment (Zagora) has issued multiple appeals to the authorities to relieve the people’s suffering and regulate watermelon cultivation.
Depleting the supply of drinking water
The association revealed figures for the area of land under watermelon cultivation in the region, noting that production had exceeded all expectations this year. According to these figures, the number of hectares allocated to the crop exceeded 24,000 and production exceeded 1 million tons. In the process, this agriculture used more than 30 million cubic metres of groundwater, which is also the source of the drinking water.