The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) provides a MAD 130 million (€12 million) loan to the Guelmim-Oued Noun region to improve drinking water supply in rural areas and to upgrade four existing wastewater treatment plants.
"This is a trigger investment that will initiate the region's participation in the EBRD Green Cities programme and accelerate Morocco’s environmental agenda by helping to transform one of its key regions," said the London-based institution in a statement on Tuesday.
The EBRD will co-finance investments aimed at increasing access to drinking water for households in rural areas in the province of Guelmim by rehabilitating and extending drinking water systems, thereby reducing water losses in the supply network, noted the same source, adding that this investment will address regional disparities and promote the more efficient use of water.
The Bank’s funds are supplemented by a US$ 1 million (€0.9 million) investment grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) under the Environmental Technology Transfer (ENVITECC) programme.
The GEF’s grant, together with the EBRD funds, will co-finance the upgrading of four wastewater treatment plants and recycling systems in the cities of Guelmim, Lakhssas, Tan Tan and Mirleft, according to the Bank.
These upgrades will mean significant quantities of water can be saved: approximately 10 million m3 of treated wastewater will be reused each year for watering green spaces and green belts in the region. The investment will therefore promote the circular economy as an effective framework for sustainable water management, EBRD stressed.
The EBRD’s loan will be supported by a guarantee from the European Union (EU) through its European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) guarantee programme.
A technical assistance component, funded by the EU, will help the region to identify appropriate operational and maintenance solutions for rural water supply services, as well as an adequate management model for using recycled water to ensure the investments are sustainable, added the same source.
“I am truly delighted to welcome Guelmim-Oued Noun to the EBRD’s Green Cities programme,” said Nandita Parshad, EBRD Managing Director for Sustainable Infrastructure, quoted in the statement.
For her part, Mbarka Bouaida, President of the Guelmim-Oued Noun region, expressed her "extreme” satisfaction with the partnership.
Guelmim Oued Noun will be the first region in Morocco to benefit from a local currency loan from an international financial institution, she noted, pointing out that joining the EBRD’s Green Cities programme is also a “crucial step in advancing the region’s commitment to a sustainable and climate-resilient future, in accordance with the aspirations of our regional development plan and steering us towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2035.”
Mathieu Bousquet, Acting Director for Thematic Support, Policy Coordination and Financial Instruments at the European Commission stated that this project is another example of the 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.
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.
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.