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Issues Africa: North in Depth

Morocco in Brief

by Jennifer Young

Morocco is a developing nation in northwestern Africa, bordering on the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Its location between Spain and the rest of Africa have made it a crossroads for intercultural exchange for centuries. This is an Arab, African country with heavy French and Spanish cultural influences, as it was occupied by both of these nations.

Since Morocco got its independence from France in 1956, the country has struggled to gain social and economic stability. Morocco is doing relatively well compared to the majority of African nations; its GDP per capita was $5,100 in 2011 and it ranked as the fourth strongest economy on the continent. However, this does not change the fact that fifteen percent of the population lives under the poverty line and the country struggles with problems in government corruption, overspending, need for judicial and educational reform, large socioeconomic differences in the population, a need for higher-level industry, and infrastructural deficiencies.

One water-related issue of particular concern in terms of Morocco’s infrastructure is sanitation. The supply of potable water has increased in recent years due to the government’s focused investment on water quality and technology, but sanitation is one part of the water cycle where financial supply has not met the demand. Instead, the funding has been flowing towards developing tourism, industry and raising the standard of living through poverty reduction.

In 2004, only 50% of the population had access to potable water. Five years later, it was up to 87% of Moroccans. However, the majority of the benefit has been in urban areas; Moroccans living in rural areas still struggle to get access to safe, clean drinking water.

In an effort to meet the Millennium Development Goals, the government the government borrowed $100 million from the World Bank to begin a new “water sector development policy”. This aided in the improvement of potability, as aforementioned, but sanitation remained unaddressed. To solve this, the government instated the National Sanitation Plan. This plan aims to control the output of sewage into the environment and protect public health by the goal date of 2020. Specific objectives include reduction of pollution by at least 60% and increase connection to urban sanitation networks up to at least 80%. The hope is that these advances will reduce environmental degradation, improve public health, and increase tourism, thus stimulating the economy. To have productive economy, a nation needs happy, healthy people. To have happy, healthy people, they need to feel like they live in a safe, clean environment.

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