Over the past four decades, Morocco has witnessed a significant increase in drought frequency and intensity619. This North African country, known for its diverse landscapes ranging from coastal plains to mountainous regions and deserts, depends largely on agriculture, which forms the economic backbone of rural areas621. The fluctuation in rainfall patterns, primarily due to climate change, has led to recurring droughts causing substantial agricultural losses and impacting the livelihood of the rural population41122.

The 1980s started with severe droughts that triggered widespread socio-economic challenges623. Morocco, like many African countries, relies heavily on rain-fed agriculture, making it vulnerable to variations in rainfall221. The droughts in the early 1980s led to a decline in agricultural production, exacerbating rural poverty and food insecurity6. To mitigate these effects, the government initiated several irrigation projects and encouraged the cultivation of drought-resistant crops3.

The drought conditions continued into the 1990s, with significant dry spells occurring in 1994 and 19956. These periods were characterized by lower than average precipitation and higher than average temperatures4, leading to a decrease in water availability for both agriculture and domestic use17. As a result, the country faced severe economic stress, further straining its limited resources and contributing to rural-urban migration trends720.

In the 2000s, the country experienced its worst drought in decades from 2004 to 20071319. It resulted in a significant decrease in agricultural productivity, which contributed to higher food prices and an increase in rural poverty levels12. In response, the Moroccan government implemented strategies aimed at developing drought-resistant agriculture and improving water management systems3.

Despite proactive measures, the 2010s saw a continuation of severe drought conditions, exacerbated by global climate change1122. The rainfall in these years was erratic, with long dry periods followed by heavy rainfall causing flash floods415. These extreme weather conditions negatively impacted the agricultural sector, threatening food security and the livelihoods of many Moroccan families623.

Earth Observation (EO) and climate-derived products have become crucial tools to monitor and manage drought conditions in Morocco1919. Remote sensing technology, using satellite imagery, provides critical data on rainfall, temperature, soil moisture, and vegetation health, which are essential indicators of drought814. This information can be used to track changes in these parameters over time and predict potential drought conditions1.

One such application is the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), a key indicator of plant health derived from satellite data8. By monitoring the NDVI, authorities can predict crop yields and prepare for potential food shortages9. Similarly, soil moisture indices derived from satellite data can provide early warnings of drought conditions, allowing for proactive measures to be taken120.

EO and climate-derived products can also aid in water resource management919. For example, data on precipitation, evapotranspiration, and groundwater levels can inform the allocation of water resources and the planning of irrigation schedules17. This can help to optimize water usage and reduce the impacts of drought on agricultural productivity1221.

Moreover, these EO technologies can contribute to long-term climate change mitigation strategies1119. By tracking changes in climatic parameters over time, researchers can develop more accurate climate models4. These models can inform government policies and actions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable agricultural practices5.

In conclusion, Morocco’s struggle with drought over the past four decades has resulted in considerable socio-economic challenges, especially in rural areas dependent on agriculture622. However, the advent of Earth Observation and climate-derived products offers promising solutions1. Through continuous monitoring, prediction, and informed decision-making, these tools can help Morocco better manage its resources, mitigate the impacts of drought, and build a more resilient future131623.


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