National policies - Morocco

Authors: Ahmed El Aich, Zoritza Kiresiewa
Coordinating authors: Inma Alados, Ruta Landgrebe, Sandra Nauman
Editors: Alexandros Kandelapas, Jane Brandt

Editor's note 20Mar14: Source D242-5.

The following policies were selected for analysis concern the vital resources for the Ait Arfa du Guigou, namely rangelands, agricultural land and water resources.

Policies addressing LEDD issues in the Timahdit SES

Policy area Competent institution
Land policy Ministry of Interior
Agricultural Policy Ministry of Agriculture and Maritime Fisheries
Water Policy Ministry of Energy, Mining and Environment
Desertification Policy High Commission for Water, Forestry and Desertification Control (HCFDC)
Soil Policy Ministry of Energy, Mining and Environment and (HCFDC)

To better understand the present structure and functioning of land and water institutions in Morocco, it is necessary to go as far back as the pre-French protectorate and even beyond, to the introduction of Islam to Morocco in the 9th century. In fact, laws and rules governing the functioning of land and water use in Morocco emerged from the historical superimposition of three bodies of laws and rules: the Orf (customary sets of rules and admitted practices), the Chraa (religious interpretation of the Islamic law and rules) and modern legislation (introduced by the French protectorate and later reinforced by Morocco after independence).

The management of the tribal territory in the pre-colonial era was defined by the nature of the area – namely, the space in which the group had all the resources necessary for its existence (forests, water, farmland, pastures). The group managed the access of its members to different resources within its territory as well as agreements with neighbouring groups. In contrast, the Protectorate aimed to build a modern state and effected massive and irreversible changes of the territories of communities. One of the main aims of the Protectorate was to make arable land available for French settlers and also to politically control ethnic communities.

The mixture of law (“orf” or customary), religion and modern agreements often results in conflicting provisions with regard to natural resources. While the modern state more regularly considers its own laws, but there is still resistance from the people to accept the state’s laws. As far as the rangelands are concerned, they are collective lands governed by a dated discouraging investments and management.

On the other hand, most modern laws are oriented towards the intensification of agriculture. Policies favouring sedentary farming over nomadic herding contribute to desertification. The degradation of rangelands, leads officials from the rural Timahdit community to "push" people into moving towards agriculture or horticulture in the framework of "Plan Maroc Vert".

The multitude of stakeholders makes management and improvement of rangelands particularly difficult. Pasture degradation is recognized as a real problem on a local level and those groups who really suffer from desertification (i.e. whose livelihoods depend on availability of pasture) have the possibility to undertake action, for example through attempting to rehabilitate transhumance, which has been the key factor for ecological integrity of the Timahdit SES in the past. Such action entails recognition of the need for management and for strengthening the jmaa, on the part of local communities. Political weakness however acts as an obstacle. It is therefore for the state to take action (alternative sources for energy to prevent use fo wood, alternatives for sheep producers, consideration of effects of drought).

Impacts of the selected laws

Laws Impacts
Policy A: Dahir of 1919 Dated law, Very effective law and negative impact on natural resources.
Policy of "Million hectares" Barely effective for the study area, with negative impact on natural resources.
Agricultural Investment Code Planning Pastoral Perimeter, with small impact on natural resources.
Law Number 33-94 Effective law for the study area, but not effective for rangelands.
Plan Maroc Vert Small impact (promoting drip irrigation and cultures of high added values crops).
Water law Creation of association for water management and drinking water for houses in Timahdit.


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2014-11-28 10:49:35