In 2019, Living Planet Morocco (LPM) and its national and international partners launched the Sebou Water Fund (SWF), a first of its kind initiative in the Mediterranean basin and MENA region. The SWF is a sustainable financing mechanism based on Payment for Ecosystem Services. It aims to conserve water resources and wetlands, promote sustainable agriculture, restore biodiversity, and preserve dependent socio-economic and cultural activities. The fund supports projects focused on water resource conservation, biodiversity, sustainable agricultural practices, socio-economic development, and capacity building.

Today, the SWF represents a key tool for safeguarding water resources and biodiversity while prioritizing human well-being. The fund is a pioneering effort in Morocco, focusing on the Sebou basin, which spans 40,000 km², experimenting with innovative conservation and socio-economic development activities. It is an innovative mechanism aimed at promoting and encouraging more sustainable water resource management for the benefit of society and the natural ecosystems and biodiversity it supports across the entire watershed. It relies on actions that maintain or restore the ecological functions of water-related ecosystems to ensure they continue to provide services such as aquifer recharge, water purification, flood and marine submersion protection, local climate regulation, extreme drought mitigation, and recreational and cultural services.

The Sebou Water Fund (SWF) has supported around 25 local NGOs, funded 21 micro-projects benefiting local populations, and engaged in 7 macro projects at national and international levels for water resource protection and nature restoration. It has facilitated innovative conservation activities, such as the restoration of Middle Atlas wetlands, conservation of Atlas cedar forests and sustainable agricultural practices. The SWF supports primarily in the upstream part of the basin, including the Ifrane National Park, assisting in the implementation of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) projects. Its local projects range from building small sustainable water retention structures for livestock to improving local water resource management and educating farmers on more eco-responsible practices, such as adopting less water-intensive crops to reduce groundwater pumping pressure, and even agro-ecological projects. Other projects in the pipeline, implemented through the SWF, include restoring Atlas Reserve Biosphere Reserve in the Middle Atlas to combat soil erosion, increase rainwater infiltration, and promote aquifer recharge.

The SWF is overseen by a local steering committee composed of representatives from the Sebou Hydraulic Basin Agency (ABHS), the National Agency for Water and Forests (ANEF), the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Tourism, and LPM. Currently supported mainly by international funds, the long-term goal is to create a sustainable financing mechanism primarily supported by local beneficiaries of the services provided by the Sebou basin’s freshwater ecosystems (public and private).

Last modified: February 23, 2024

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