Morocco announces $1 billion drought relief plan

This picture shows a view of the Abdelmoumen dam, some 60 kilometres from Morocco’s coastal city of Agadir, on October 23, 2020. – The Moroccan authorities have diverted water from the dams that irrigated farms to residential areas, in order to guarantee a supply to nearly a million people, as drought bites increasingly hard. Water levels in reservoirs stood at an average of 37 percent of capacity at the end of October, down from nearly 46 percent from a year ago. But around Agadir, the capital of the Souss-Massa region and rich in citrus fruits and seasonal vegetables, water levels are even lower. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP)

RABAT, Morocco (AFP) – Morocco said Wednesday it will launch a nearly $1 billion aid programme to help its agriculture industry, which has been hit hard by a particularly acute drought in recent years.

The emergency plan “aims to mitigate the effects of delay in rainfall, to alleviate the impact on agricultural activity and to provide assistance to the farmers and livestock breeders affected”, the royal palace said in a statement.

The plan will cost a total of 10 billion dirhams ($1 billion).

Despite hopes of a reprieve from the drought, the national rainfall average is 75 millimetres, down two thirds compared to a normal season, the royal cabinet said.

And dam reserves have plummeted, filled at a level of just 33 percent as of Wednesday, compared to 48 percent this time last year, official data showed.

The kingdom’s economy, already hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, is heavily dependent on agriculture, which contributes 12 percent of GDP.