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Journal article

From participatory process to robust decision-making: an agriculture-water-energy nexus analysis for the Souss-Massa basin in Morocco

The Water-Energy-Food (WEF) framework is widely used to address sustainability and resource management questions. However, many WEF methods fail to engage stakeholders in the process. This study introduces a stakeholder-driven and model-supported decision-making framework. This methodology is applied to the Souss-Massa basin which has significant importance for the agricultural sector in Morocco, yet faces increasing water scarcity.

Brian Joyce, Annette Huber-Lee / Published on 17 August 2022

Almulla, Y., Ramirez, C., Joyce, B., Huber-Lee, A. and Fuso-Nerini, F. (2022). From participatory process to robust decision-making: an agriculture-water-energy nexus analysis for the Souss-Massa basin in Morocco. Energy for Sustainable Development.

This figure maps the water resources of Morocco's Souss Massa River Basin, indicating the dams, rivers and aquifers in the region

Figure 1: Water resources of Souss-Massa River Basin. Source: Almulla et al., 2022.

The Souss-Massa River Basin is home to 2.56 million people and ranks among the top Moroccan agricultural zones. Souss-Massa produces 85 percent of the country’s vegetables and more than half of the exported citrus. About half of the region’s workforce is employed by the agriculture sector.

While irrigation comprises about 94 percent of total water demand in the region, water scarcity increasingly threatens the agriculture industry, driven by climate change and over-extraction of groundwater. The area also relies on fossil fuels for groundwater pumping.

Though the WEF nexus has gained traction in the last 20 years as a method to address issues facing agriculture, the introduction of a participatory component made up of local stakeholders is novel. In concert with stakeholders and decision-makers, researchers used water and energy modelling to assess various solutions to Souss-Massa’s water scarcity, including desalination and wastewater reuse. Their results are published in this Energy for Sustainable Development journal article.

No one solution can act as a panacea for Morocco’s water challenges, but researchers found that solar-powered groundwater pumping is an economically and environmentally viable alternative to fossil fuel-powered pumping and they explain that a combination of strategies can ease strain on water supply.

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Brian Joyce

Senior Scientist


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Annette Huber-Lee

Senior Scientist


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