This report examines water and irrigation management in Morocco and its "politique des barrages," its massive dam building strategy. Despite a growing awareness of the need to manage demand rather than continue to try to further expand water supply, Morocco remains committed to building more dams. Planning with hope of agricultural self-sufficiency and rural development, independent Morocco's irrigation policy followed plans first drafted during the French protectorate period. The policy has succeeded in enriching the local elites as they took the place of the French settlers. This is the story of how a policy continues to be in force long after the original goals and motivation factors have changed.
After a brief discussion of Morocco's water resources, this report will trace the colonial origins of "la politique des barrages" and examine how this policy was resurrected by the newly independent Morocco. The report will then look at the current state of irrigation in Morocco and conclude with a consideration of how aspects of Morocco's water policy might become more sustainable.