Water of the Middle East and North Africa

Shared Water Resources in Morocco

Shared water resources in Morocco
Photo 1: Ziz Valley, Errachidia, Morocco. (Source: Jbdodane, Flickr)

Shared surface and groundwater resources

Morocco shares groundwater aquifers with its neighbours. These are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1: Morocco’s transboundary groundwater aquifers. Sources: AGW-Net and International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre.

NameCountries sharing the aquiferPopulationArea (km2)
Tindouf Algeria/Mauritania/Morocco107,000160,000-221,019
Errachidia Algeria/Morocco156,30018,500
Chott Tigri-LahouitaAlgeria/Morocco26,8003,560-4,700
Ain Beni MatharAlgeria/Morocco23,10018,315-20,000
Jbel el-HamraAlgeria/Morocco40,100561-1,250
Triffa Algeria/Morocco920,00013,100

Morocco also shares with Algeria the Bounaim-Tafna basin, which is located in the north-east of Morocco and the north-west of Algeria and covers 2,650 km² (approximately 70% of which is in Morocco). It is formed by two aquifers (confined and unconfined), which represent a major asset in a region that has suffered economically and socially from the ongoing conflict between Morocco and Algeria over the Western Sahara. The basin’s water is used mainly for agriculture (80%), which delivers few economic returns. Water abstraction is uncontrolled and the resource is overexploited.[1] The unconfined aquifer is heavily polluted by nitrate, and in some places untreated groundwater is used for drinking, risking adverse health impacts, especially to children (Map 1).

Transboundary aquifers of the Bounaim-Tafna basin Shared water resources in Morocco
Map 1 : Transboundary aquifers of the Bounaim-Tafna basin. Source: SIAGUA

[1] Zarhloule Y, Boughriba M, Barkaoui A and Chanigui M, 2010. ‘Water as parameter of cooperation between Morocco and Algeria: the case of Angad-Maghnia transboundary stressed aquifers of Bounaim-Tafna basin’. SIAGUA.