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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
News article6 December 2023Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations

EU, EBRD and GEF support Morocco’s efforts to rebuild and restore water availability in Guelmim-Oued Noun Region

  • EBRD, European Union (EU) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) are supporting Guelmim-Oued Region to increase the resilience of drinking water supply and promote the use of non-conventional water
  • EBRD funds supplemented by an investment grant of US$1 million from the GEF for the upgrade of four existing Waste Water Treatment Plants, enabling the reuse of treated water for watering green spaces
  • Green City Action Plan to be developed, identifying and responding to the Region’s environmental challenges

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing a MAD 130 million loan to Morocco’s Guelmim-Oued Noun Region to improve drinking water supply in rural areas and upgrade four existing Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTPs).

This is a trigger investment that will initiate the Region’s participation in EBRD Green Cities and will accelerate Morocco’s environmental agenda by helping to transform one of its key Regions. It is also the Bank’s first municipal loan to a region in Morocco.

The EBRD will co-finance investments aimed at increasing access to drinking water for households in rural areas in the province of Guelmim via the rehabilitation and extension of drinking water systems, hereby reducing water losses in the supply network. In doing so, the investment will address regional disparities and promote a more efficient use of water.

The Bank’s funds are also supplemented by an investment grant of US$1 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) under the Environmental Technology Transfer (ENVITECC) Programme. The GEF’s grant alongside EBRD funds will co-finance the upgrade of four WWTPs and wastewater recycling systems in the Guelmim, Lakhssas, Tan Tan and Mirleft cities to allow significant water saving through the annual reuse of approximately 10 million m3 treated wastewater for watering green spaces and green belts in the Region. As such, the investment will promote the circular economy as an effective framework for sustainable water management.

EBRD’s loan will be supported by a guarantee from the EU through its European Fund for Sustainable Development Guarantee Programme (EFSD). A technical assistance assignment funded by the EU will help the Region identify the appropriate operational and maintenance solutions for rural water supply services and the adequate management model for the use of recycled water to ensure the sustainability of the investments.

Mathieu Bousquet, Director for Thematic Support, Policy Coordination and Financial Instruments at the European Commission stated: “This project is another example of our successful cooperation with EBRD and the Global Environment Facility in accelerating the transition to green, low-carbon economies in countries in the EU’s neighbourhood such as Morocco. We are glad to see our European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) guarantee lowering the perceived risk to invest in green water supply services in the
Guelmin-Oued Noun Region through an EBRD loan.Nandita Parshad, EBRD Managing Director for Sustainable Infrastructure, said: ‘I am truly delighted to welcome Guelmim-Oued Noun to EBRD’s Green Cities and signing this landmark project for Morocco. This project embraces all that our flagship urban programme is about, with its focus on improving people’s lives by ensuring access to clean drinking water and sustainability with pioneering water re-cycling for green spaces’.

Mbarka Bouaida, President of Guelmim-Oued Noun Region, said: ‘We are extremely pleased with the partnership with EBRD. The Region of Guelmim Oued Noun will be the first one in Morocco to benefit from a local currency loan from an International Financial Institution (IFI). Joining EBRD Green Cities Programme is also a crucial step in advancing the Region's commitment to a sustainable and climate-resilient future.’ 

A Green City Action Plan (GCAP) will also be developed with the GEF’s support, to help the city identify and prioritise its most pressing environmental challenges and support the development and implementation of a plan outlining investments and policy actions. The GCAP will also cover digital, inclusion and gender considerations, and will include recommendations to promote human capital development and gender equality.

Morocco is a founding member of the EBRD and became a beneficiary of Bank resources in 2012. To date, the EBRD has invested €4.3 billion in the country through 96 projects.