Saïss water conservation project



Project number:


Business sector:

Municipal and environmental infrastructure

Notice type:


Environmental category:


Approval date:

02 Nov 2016



PSD disclosed:

26 Jul 2016

Translated version of this PSD: French

Project Description

The EBRD is considering a sovereign loan of up to EUR 120 million to the Kingdom of Morocco to finance a 135 km primary transmission pipe from the Mdez dam to the Saiss plain in Northern Morocco (the "project") as part of a staged project.

Project Objectives

The project's objective is to replace water abstraction from the local aquifer and water resources of the Saiss plain, which is currently overexploited.

The project will be implemented by a project implementation unit ("PIU") that will be set up by the Ministry of Agriculture and Maritime Fisheries ("MAMF").

Transition Impact

The transition impact of the project is expected to focus on increasing resource efficiency, private sector participation, and regional economic inclusion.

1. Improved resource efficiency

The project will result in significant physical improvements in water use. The water transfer scheme from M'Dez dam to the Saiss plain will ensure the sustainable delivery of freshwater without the ongoing depletion of scarce groundwater resources in the region by increasing the efficient use of valuable resources and contributing towards climate resilience.

2. Increased private sector participation

The Bank will bring expertise to develop an appropriate structure, risk transfer and termination provisions in a PPP contract for final distribution to end users for the next stage of the project.

3. Stakeholder Engagement Plan focusing on economic inclusion and gender

The Stakeholder Engagement Plan will encourage the adoption of more efficient and sustainable irrigation practices by water users and encourage improved tariff collection rates.

Client Information


The Kingdom of Morocco, represented by MAMF as the body responsible for developing and implementing the country's agriculture and rural development policy. MAMF takes the lead in organising the use of water resources for irrigation and has experience in implementing water transfer schemes.

EBRD Finance Summary

EUR 120,000,000.00

A sovereign loan of up EUR 120 million.

Total Project Cost

EUR 408,000,000.00

EUR 408 million, excluding VAT, co-financed by the Kingdom of Morocco and by a grant to be mobilised.

Environmental and Social Summary

The Project has been categorised B in accordance with the Bank’s 2014 Environmental and Social Policy. The Project is a surface water transfer project, aimed at conveying an average of 100 million m3 of water per year for irrigation purposes from the M’Dez dam to the Saïss plain (Sebou River basin, Northern Morocco) through a 150 kilometres long underground pipeline. The volume to be transferred corresponds to the annual average water deficit of the Saïss plain aquifer the groundwater of which is mainly used for irrigation.

A site visit and an Initial Environmental and Social Examination (“IESE”) of the Project were carried out by the ESD environmental and social specialists. The IESE concluded that the large M’Dez dam (under construction) from which water will be abstracted is not an associated facility of the Project as defined by EBRD’s Environmental and Social (“E&S”) policy because it was planned and would have been built independently of its provision of irrigation water to the Saïss plain. The IESE also identified that the Project itself will not result in any physical resettlement or negative impacts on sensitive areas. The Project was therefore categorised B.

An Environmental and Social Due Diligence (“ESDD”) of the Project was carried out by an independent consultant, based on terms of reference prepared by EBRD E&S specialists following the completion of the IESE. The scope of the ESDD covered the Project (the water transfer pipeline) and the associated facilities (the distribution network). An environmental and social review of the risks associated with the M’Dez dam was also undertaken for the Bank’s information. The Project is not subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment under Moroccan legislation. However, the ESDD took into consideration that the Project was planned in 2012 within the frame of the Sebou River Basin Master Plan prepared by the Sebou Basin Authority to ensure an integrated management of water resources at the basin level, on the basis of technical, economic, environmental, social and institutional considerations.

The Project covers two different areas that present different physical environments: the first 60 kilometres are located across a hilly landscape, sparsely used for grazing, with a low density of population and agriculture. The following 90 kilometres are in the Saïss plain, which is dominated by agricultural activities. There is no environmentally protected area in the vicinity of the water transfer pipeline corridor and no sensitive habitat was identified during the ESDD. There is one legally protected and internationally recognized area in the North of Saïss plain: Dwiyate Important Bird Area. Although the Project is unlikely to impact this area, appropriate preventive measures were agreed with the MAMF following a conservative approach.

The impacts of the Project are mostly associated with the construction phase: the water transfer pipeline will be underground and will therefore involve a rolling worksite, with an open trench around 1 kilometre long. The construction will be managed by a dedicated unit of MAMF. After the construction, agricultural activities will not be tolerated above the pipeline and a corridor of 20 meters (including a track for maintenance activities) will be excluded from agricultural activities. Permanent agricultural losses will therefore occur on an as of yet unknown proportion of a total of approximately 180 hectares along the 150 kilometres of transfer and primary distribution pipes. The preliminary alignment of the pipeline was determined based on three options and with the objective of avoiding any physical resettlement as well as minimising economic displacement by following existing road alignments as much as possible. The exact location of the pipeline is yet to be determined, and this will be done by taking into account E&S risks, in order to avoid or minimise impacts.

After its construction, the Project will be operated under a PPP agreement. The social impacts during the operation period are expected to be largely positive, due to the improved access to irrigation water. Environmental impacts associated with the Project’s operation are mainly connected to the reduced flow downstream of the M’Dez dam: the new Law 36-15 on water adopted in Morocco imposes the application of a minimum flow to preserve aquatic ecosystems, and support will be provided by EBRD through TC to determine this minimum flow in the context of the Project. The Project is not expected to impact other irrigated areas downstream Mdez dam. The main downstream impact is the reduction of hydropower production: this consequence of the project was early identified and taking into account when planning the efficient use of water resources at the basin level.

The Project will improve women’s economic inclusion in the Saïss plain by supporting women farmers to access economic opportunities in commercial agriculture in the face of a changing climate. The Bank will support this through TC.

The Project has been structured to meet EBRD PRs and the relevant EU environmental standards (notably the EU water framework directive). An ESAP was prepared and is being agreed with the MAMF. The key actions included in the ESAP are (i) the requirement to finalise the pipeline location with the input of environmental and a social experts, (ii) the requirement for the future operator (Private Partner) to operate under an E&S Management System certified to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 standards, (iii) the development and implementation of a Land Acquisition and Compensation Plan, and (iv) the implementation of a Stakeholder Engagement Plan. The Bank’s TC will also support a Public Participation Programme at the Saïss plain level and the design of an hydrogeological model in order to develop a Geographic Information System of the Saïss aquifer.

The Bank will be monitoring the Project by reviewing annual reports prepared by the client on the environmental and social performance of the project and on the implementation of the ESAP.

Non-Technical Summary: English | French

Technical Cooperation

The project will benefit from the following TC of up to EUR 3.45 million.


  • Technical, financial, environmental and social due diligence of the project. EUR 600,000 financed by the Public Window of the Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility ("IPPF").


  • Project Implementation Support and Public Participation Programme. EUR 1.7 million to be financed by a multilateral fund, a bilateral donor or the Shareholder Special Fund.
  • PPP Certification Programme: to train MAMF staff on managing PPPs and ensure that the PPP will be well executed and successfully implemented. EUR 30,000 to be financed by the PPP Window of IPPF.
  • Women's Economic Inclusion in the Saiss plain: support women farmers' access to economic opportunities in commercial agriculture in the context of climate change. EUR 270,000 to be financed by a donor to be identified.
  • End-User Education and Training programme: to encourage the adoption of more efficient and sustainable irrigation practices by farmers. EUR 150,000 to be financed by a donor to be identified.
  • Environmental Monitoring of the Saiss aquifer: to monitor the impact of the Project in the aquifer and to establish the authorised abstraction levels. EUR 700,000 to be financed by a donor to be identified.

Company Contact Information

Ahmed El Bouari
+212 530 10 31 77
+212 537 29 75 44
Station Dbagh-Avenue Hassan II BP 607, Rabat, Maroc

Business opportunities

For business opportunities or procurement, contact the client company.

For state-sector projects, visit EBRD Procurement: Tel: +44 20 7338 6794

General enquiries

EBRD project enquiries not related to procurement:
Tel: +44 20 7338 7168

Public Information Policy (PIP)

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Text of the PIP

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