Pilot project to save Guerdane

06 September 2002

The government has issued a prequalification tender for companies interested in participating in an agricultural irrigation project that is to be undertaken on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis (see Tenders).

The pilot project consists of the construction and operation of an irrigation network, which will convey some 45 million cubic metres a year of water to 650 farmers in the Guerdane region in the south of the kingdom. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is acting as lead adviser to the government in the structuring and implementation of the project.

The estimated MD 850 million ($80 million) water transfer scheme will irrigate a 10,000-hectare area of citrus groves with water from the Aoulouz dam located 80 kilometres upstream. The Guerdane region is one of Morocco's most important agricultural areas, accounting for around 60 per cent of national produce and 50 per cent of agricultural exports. However, the viability of the region is under threat from overuse of the underground aquifer, which dropped to 35 metres in 1999 from 14 metres in 1969.

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