Improved irrigation systems

June 5, 2017

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Morocco

Improved irrigation systems

About the Implementing organization

Name: Federation of Associations of Toubkal

Country: Morocco

Year of establishment: 2013

Type of organization: Community-based association or organization

With increasing frequency of storms, traditional community-managed irrigation canals are often destroyed by fallen rocks and debris during periods of heavy rain and erosion. Community members normally come together to fix the infrastructure, but repairs made to the system are only temporary, leaving the system vulnerable to destruction again. Additionally, trends of decreasing rain in the summer season force communities to ration existing water supplies. When water is especially scarce, the farthest fields are often left unfarmed as water is absorbed along the way in the traditional canals and cannot reach them.

In order to safeguard the traditional irrigation system from flooding and erosion, the initiative has fortified the systems, originally made of earth and stone with underground PVC piping and cement reinforcements. While the original layout of the system and the traditional method for distribution remain, the innovative piping allows the system to be protected from erosion (debris now passes over the system instead of destructing it), allows faster transport of water from the source, and ensures the maximum amount of water reaches the fields.

The Tifnout initiative has so far reinforced the irrigation systems of three villages (Tasloumt, El Moudaa and Talat N'amrane) with PVC or cement through support from the Japanese Embassy, and has plans to replicate the PVC piping intervention in nine additional sites in the coming year.

Nature Element

Mountains / Rivers

Type of Action

Protection / Sustainable use

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Water security / Climate action

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)

  

Environmental Impacts

The improved irrigation system has helped the communities better manage their water resources. The initiative has so far implemented 3,300 meters of PVC and 300 tons of cement. The PVC piping helps to reduce wasted water by enabling its transport across long distances. Even when water is scarce during the summer season, the PVC pipes allows for efficient and more equitable transport of the valuable resource. As a result, thousands of hectares have already been restored for farming in the three villages so far and multiple thousands of m3 of water are preserved in the the new system. These interventions will also help to reduce silting of the majors dams in the regions, which will also serve to benefit the zones downstream.

Sustainable Development Impacts

The intervention has greatly contributed to the livelihoods of the predominantly farming-based communities where damage to the irrigation systems was previously a major challenge. Depending on the magnitude of the destruction and the available manpower, repairs could take from 2-5 days to fix, which was valuable time lost for irrigating, particularly in the dry season. The valuable time gained can now be used more productively by farmers. Additionally, in Tasloumt for instance, water previously took 1 hour to reach the farthest field from the source. With the new system, water passage along the same distance requires only 10 minutes, liberating an additional 50 minutes. Also, previously in dry months when water was scarce, the community in Tasloumt reported farming only half of the available fields because of the water constraint. Since the implementation of the intervention, the Tasloumt community has been able to farm all available land, contributing greatly to their crop production.

Scalability

The action can be expanded to a national scale through resources from the Ministry of Agriculture and INDH, which currently support local agriculture and development related initiatives, such as improved irrigation systems. With the knowledge on how to access these resources and manage their own local projects, local associations facing similar impacts on their traditional irrigation system can request this support and implement the improvements in their own villages.

Replicability

The intervention, which was first implemented in El Moudaa, was replicated, with variation based on community preferences, in the villages of Tasloumt and Talat N'amrane and expanded in El Moudaa to cover the entire system. With the support of the Federation, nine additional communities have been able to identify support to implement the improved irrigation system in their own villages. The Federation plans to support additional associations in the valley who have expressed the need for the improved system in developing their own projects and identifying resources to fund them.

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