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Assessing climate resilience in Morocco

A look at the impacts of climate change on two regions of Morocco where MCC is providing farmers and their families with secure rights to the land they have been farming for generations.

The Rural Land Activity under the Compact agreement between the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Government of Morocco supports a process known as melkisation—converting collective land to private ownership—in the Gharb and Haouz regions of Morocco.


Melkisation is intended to strengthen farmers’ land tenure security, thereby increasing access to credit and incentivizing investments in higher value crops and new technologies. But these land use changes and intensification of agricultural productivity result in increased demand for agricultural inputs, particularly water resources. MCC wanted to know if its investment is sustainable and resilient to current and potential future climate change impacts on Morocco.


We conducted an assessment of the sustainability of the MCC investment, taking into consideration the planned improvements in agricultural productivity and related resource use intensification, as well as current and potential climate variability and change. Our team also summarized ongoing activities to address climate risks and build resilience of small farmers to climate variability and change.

Given the potential impacts of climate change on the long-term sustainability of agriculture in the region, we suggested several potential interventions that could be taken to enhance resilience to climate variability and allow farmers to see the full range of intended benefits of melkisation.


Our review of existing research found that water stress is increasing in the Gharb and Haouz regions. Both regions have experienced declines in rainfall and increases in temperature over the past several decades, increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme drought conditions.

The combination of projected increases in water demand and reductions in water supply under a high climate change scenario is expected to result in a negative water balance in the Sebou basin in which the Gharb collectives are situated before 2030. It’s also expected to increase the existing water deficit in the Oum Er Rbia water basin where Haouz collectives are located by 2030.

Changes in climate and water resources present a significant challenge to farmers by increasing crop water and irrigation demands while decreasing rainfall, surface, and groundwater supply. Water use requirements are projected to increase for durum wheat, olives, and citrus—with citrus using the most water. Improved technology, irrigation, and land use are key for ensuring better yields under climate change. But these investments may prove unsustainable if water resources decline or degrade due to higher crop water use.

After meeting with a range of stakeholders in Morocco, we identified three key measures to mitigate risk, built on existing programs and experience in the region to address climate change: 1) financial instruments; 2) improved agricultural inputs, information, and technologies; and 3) capacity building:

Financial instruments

The use of targeted financial instruments (such as subsidies or multi-hazard risk insurance) could expand access to capital, and steer investments to lower-risk crops and improved technologies.

Agricultural inputs, information, and technology

Part of the premise of the melkisation efforts is that titling will increase access to credit and better agricultural inputs. Improved access to drought resistant seeds and varietals adapted to future climate conditions, amongst other interventions, can help titled farmers to increase productivity or reduce losses.

Capacity building

Investments are needed to build adaptive capacity of farmers to better understand climate change impacts and improve productivity. There is also a need to build the capacity of government institutions to manage climate change and support farmers, ensuring that technology and financing are effectively leveraged and have the desired outcomes to improve resilience.

We concluded that the full scope of MCC's investment may not be realized over the longer term without addressing some of the underlying climate stressors. For the sustainability of the project and welfare of the beneficiaries, we recommend that MCC explore different potential investments to accompany the melkisation process—engaging key local partners to facilitate capacity-building in climate-smart practices in the regions.

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