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Mosque-goers pray for rain in drought-scorched Morocco

Wahid Aguertite, a farmer, touches the earth cracked by drought in October 2020, at an orange orchard on Morocco's southern plains of Agadir
Wahid Aguertite, a farmer, touches the earth cracked by drought in October 2020, at an orange orchard on Morocco's southern plains of Agadir - Copyright AFP LUDOVIC MARIN
Wahid Aguertite, a farmer, touches the earth cracked by drought in October 2020, at an orange orchard on Morocco's southern plains of Agadir - Copyright AFP LUDOVIC MARIN

Mosques held prayers for rain on Friday across the parched North African kingdom of Morocco where farmers are battling an acute drought.

King Mohammed VI ordered all the country’s mosques to hold prayers “calling on God for rain”, the religious affairs ministry said in a statement carried by the official MAP news agency.

Such prayers, which also take place in other Muslim countries when rain is needed, are based on a verse from the Koran and on a saying of the Prophet Mohammed, who recommended an extra prayer “every time the rain is scarce”.

Morocco’s economy depends heavily on agriculture, but the country is in the midst of a severe drought. Reservoirs are at just 34 percent capacity, compared to 46 percent this time last year, according to official figures.

Despite improved harvests in 2021, the lack of water has battered the agricultural sector, which is responsible for about 14 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

The situation has sparked fears of spiralling prices for basic goods.

In January, tourist hotspot Marrakesh imposed tight restrictions on water usage, news website Medias24 reported.

That recalled 2020, when the Atlantic coastal city of Agadir cut off mains water supplies at night to rein in usage.

Agadir this month fired up the country’s first seawater desalination plant to meet the needs of desperately dry farmland nearby.

The agriculture ministry forecasts that average precipitation will drop by 11 percent by 2050, with the amount of water available for irrigation falling by a quarter.

Along with Morocco, the North African nations of Algeria, Libya and Tunisia are among the 30 most water-stressed countries in the world, according to the World Resources Institute.

AFP
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