The Dutch Moroccan Water Days were held as part of the Dutch economic mission to Morocco in Casablanca on 10 October 2023. This first-of-its-kind event was attended by more than 30 Dutch companies and over 50 delegates who had the opportunity to strengthen existing ties and sow seeds for future partnerships and collaboration. This first edition of the Dutch Moroccan Water Days was organised by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Rabat, the Moroccan Association of Drinking Water and Sanitation (AMEPA), the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), and the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP).
During his opening speech, the Moroccan Minister of Equipment and Water Nizar Baraka underlined the importance of the Dutch Moroccan Water Days as one of the first tangible outcomes of the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Morocco and the Netherlands on the sidelines of the United Nations Water Conference 2023 in New York. An agreement that is aimed at strengthening cooperation in areas related to sustainable and integrated management of water resources. With this MoU in mind, the Dutch Moroccan Water Days and its programme were designed to offer an open space where both countries could, one, share their experiences in the field of water and, two, define and develop opportunities between their water sectors.
The keynote speeches by the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development, Liesje Schreinemacher; the Secretary General of AMEPA, Asma El Kasmi; and the Mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, emphasized the aspiration of both countries to continue and strengthen the collaboration on water.
The programme of the Dutch Moroccan Water Days consisted of two panel sessions which took place after the keynote speeches. During the first session, dedicated to water efficiency in agriculture and ground water monitoring and management, NWP members Royal Eijkelkamp and IHE Delft had a fruitful conversation with Mahboub Abderrahmane, Chargé de Mission to the Directorate-General for Hydraulics in Morocco.
Inspiring examples of Dutch Moroccan water cooperation were shared on stage, and from the audience. The Water Consumption Dashboard (WCD), led by NWP member eLEAF and its Moroccan partner Resing, was one of the highlighted projects. The WCD is a platform that aims to provide continuous, reliable data on water consumption based on open geospatial data from WaPOR. This information helps water authorities better manage water withdrawals and respond to various demands from farmers and local governments. The gathered data can cover territories going from a large watershed basin to a small irrigation plot, depending on the resolution.
The second panel discussion addressed water reuse and desalination. During the session, Arejdal El Hassan, Head of Liquid Sanitation department at DRPL (Direction des Réseaux Publics Locaux) and Khalid Tahri, Planning Director at ONEE (Moroccan national office of electricity and drinking water) informed the audience on the current and future projects for Morocco. NWP members VNG International and Royal Haskoning DHV shared examples of cooperation in the field of wastewater treatment, including the use of exciting Dutch technologies such as Nereda, and received questions from the audience with interest to working together.
The experience of water management in the Netherlands at the local level is quite interesting and inspiring. I had the privilege to bring the perspectives of local governments to the conversation between Dutch and Moroccan experts.
Head of Strategy and Networks at VNG International
Morocco and the Netherlands have identified common challenges and opportunities, particularly in the realm of water and food security. Morocco has been struggling with the consequences of climate change in recent years, and so has the Netherlands. In the case of Morocco, the country is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years and so water supply has become a priority for the Moroccan Government. In fact, it has allocated EUR 11 billion for a National Drinking Water Supply and Irrigation Programme 2020-2027.
Water-related challenges are also affecting other sectors, including the agricultural one. Especially in the field of water efficient agriculture, both countries have actively sought sustainable solutions involving water management and welcomed the application of new technologies and approaches such as the diversification of irrigation and farming methods.
The outcomes of this first edition of the Dutch Moroccan Water Days are enhanced collaboration in water governance, improved groundwater management practices, knowledge sharing on water reuse and desalination, enhanced agricultural practices for water sustainability, and strengthened partnerships between Moroccan and Dutch stakeholders.
The organising partners of the Dutch Moroccan Water Days aim to hold this event every year to continue nurturing the cooperation on water between Morocco and the Netherlands.