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Has Morocco’s groundwater policy changed? Lessons from the institutional approach

Kévin Del Vecchio
Sciences Po Lyon, UMR Triangle, Lyon; and UMR G-EAU, Montpellier, France; kevin.del-vecchio@sciencespo-lyon.fr

Sylvain Barone
Irstea, UMR G-Eau, University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France; sylvain.barone@irstea.fr

ABSTRACT: Morocco’s Water Act of 1995 created River Basin Agencies (RBAs) designed to implement water policy according to the international standard of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). This institutional development was accompanied by new claims regarding the management and preservation of natural resources, including groundwater resources. Aquifer contracts were introduced for this purpose. This article aims to analyse their implementation and seeks to explain both the change and continuity in groundwater policy. Through a neo-institutional approach it highlights the historical and long-term processes and institutional factors behind groundwater policy outputs. It stresses the influence of bureaucratic interests and sectoral competition on the development and implementation of groundwater policy in Morocco. Finally, this article shows that, while the main policy objectives have changed very little as supply-side mechanisms remain dominant, the process of implementation is neither linear nor guided by a single, central rationale.

KEYWORDS: Groundwater, public policy, administration, neo-institutionalism, Morocco