Regional Launch Ifrane, Morocco

On the occasion of the celebration of World Water Day 2017, the UNESCO Chair "Water, Women and Decision-making" in Morocco, in partnership with the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) organized a presentation of the United Nations World Water Development Report 2017 on 30 March 2017 at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane (AUI). This event brought together some thirty participants representing the Sebou Hydraulic Basin Agency (ABH), the Central and Regional Directorates of the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water, professors and students of the Universities of Ifrane and Fez, as well as local and national media.

The word of welcome by Prof. Wafa El Garah (Vice-President of Al Akhawayn University) was followed by a presentation by Prof. Asma El Kasmi (Chairholder of the UNESCO Chair in "Water, Women and Decision-making") of the UN World Water Development Report 2017 entitled "Wastewater, the Untapped Resource". El Kasmi stressed the need to increase the social acceptance of water reuse and the importance of education and awareness to foster public support. She highlighted the crucial role of women and girls who are often the main users and managers of water in households. Women also make a critical contribution to agriculture and rural enterprises in all developing regions and therefore have a significant influence on water management and the economy in general.  For her part, the Director of the Sebou Hydraulic Basin Agency, Mrs Samira El Houat, stressed the perpetually growing hydraulic potential of wastewater and how it constitutes an alternative option for dealing with climate change. Referring to the state of water resources in Morocco, Ms. El Houat noted the limited potential marked by the scarcity of natural resources, overexploitation of groundwater, pollution and the non-rational use of water. Mrs El Houat presented the National Plan for the Reuse of Wastewater (PNREU), dedicated in particular to the eradication of uncontrolled water use and the exploitating of the full potential -directly or indirectly- of wastewater by 2030.

Mr. Nabil Boutaher (Head of Sanitation and Environment Engineering of ONEE), emphasized the important advances made in the field of sanitation in Morocco, especially since the launch of the National Sanitation Plan (PNA) in 2005. Under the PNA, ONEE has set up 93 wastewater treatment plants with a purification capacity of 130 million m3 / year. These sanitation projects benefit a population of 4.63 million inhabitants. Boutaher said the objectives of the plan have been to improve the health conditions of the population, to protect natural resources and to develop sanitation know-how. Mr Mohamed Saadallah (Head of Water Pollution Prevention and Control at the ONEE Laboratory), presented the technical standards related to water reuse projects in Morocco, in particular the criteria for microbiological compliance to ensure the quality of treated wastewater.

Researchers from the Universities of Fez and Ifrane presented the results of scientific research on specific water treatment techniques using both physicochemical and biological methods. In addition to the technical presentations, a presentation on the human and social sciences aspect helped to position integrated water management as a major pillar of sustainable development in Morocco. Morocco has set an objective to re-use no less than 300 million m3 of wastewater per year by 2030, which means finding solutions to numerous technical, regulatory, institutional and financial challenges, not to mention the importance of communication, awareness-raising and capacity-building programs.

In this context, the UNESCO Chair in "Water, Women and Decision-making" will capitalize on the experience of the successful pilot project of rural ecological sanitation with wastewater reuse, implemented at the Village Dayet Ifrah in partnership with the German cooperation GIZ, sector institutions and local actors. The Chair will continue to play a unifying role in setting up collaborations between academics, national water operators and local populations for the improvement of wastewater management and the development of water reuse projects in Morocco.

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