The water footprint in Morocco: the added value of water footprint assessment for national water policy.
Morocco is a semiarid country in the Mediterranean facing water scarcity and deteriorating water quality. Its limited water resources constrain the activities in different sectors of the economy. The national water strategy includes options to reduce water demand and increase supply, but does not consider possibilities to save water through international virtual water trade or to increase water use efficiency through changing the allocation of water to different crops (the main water consumers). The objective of this study is to assess the added value of understanding the water footprint (WF) of the economy and international virtual water trade in formulating national water policy in Morocco. The question is whether a thorough Water Footprint Assessment (WFA) can provide new insights and response options that are currently not considered in the country's national water strategy and river basin plans. The study includes analysis of the WF of activities in Morocco (on river basin level and monthly scale), the virtual water trade balance of the country and the WF in the context of water availability and waste assimilation capacity. Based on this, response options are formulated to reduce the WF within Morocco, alleviate water scarcity and allocate water resources more efficiently. Results and conclusions from the WFA are compared with the scope of analysis of and action plans included in Morocco's national water strategy and river basin plans in order to evaluate the added value of WFA relative to these existing plans.