Morocco, with a land area of 446,300 square kilometers, is located between the Atlantic Ocean (to the west) and the Mediterranean Sea to the northeast, and is bordered to the south by Algeria and to the southeast by the Western Sahara. Morocco has a large rural population, with over 44% of a total population of 31,992,592 living in rural areas (World Bank, 2009 est.), which is highly dependent on natural resources (agriculture, animal husbandry and biomass energy) and, thus, very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Agriculture is important to the country’s economy and food security; it is practiced on 67% of the total area land, employs about 41% of the population and, in 2009, contributed 16% to the total GDP. Agriculture consumes over 83% of harvested water, but water scarcity and irregularity are major hindrances to its development. The coastline is very important not only in defining the country’s climate, but also in commercial exchange, fishing, tourism and development.
Morocco sits between two climatic zones: temperate in the north and tropical in the south. To the west, the anticyclone of the Azores and the Saharan depression form great spatial as well as temporal climate variations. Rainfall in the north can be as high as 2 meters per year, while in the desert south, average annual rainfall is 25 mm per year. The country has four major geographic regions: the coastal planes; the hills to the north that are parallel to the Mediterranean Sea; the hills to the center that include the Middle Atlas, High Atlas and Anti-Atlas; and the desert hills.
Climate change poses a significant threat to Morocco’s water and environmental resources, which are already under extensive pressure from population explosion, industrial growth, tourism development activities and agricultural extension. Agriculture’s value added to GDP has undergone significant fluctuations due to weather conditions from 28% in 19602 to 14% in 2007 and 16% in 2009. Thus, climate significantly influences the Moroccan economy.
Selected Indicators for Impacts and Vulnerabilities