Economic and social development of the southern provinces
Since 1975, when morocco recovered the southern provinces, huge efforts were exerted to enable the populations lead a decent life and enjoy all modern facilities. This part of Moroccan territory is now enjoying a high level of development.In this arid area, there are two kinds of agricultural exploitation: irrigated lands and lowlands.
Irrigated lands represent the main and most productive agricultural areas. Their surface area yet has diminished under the effect of desertification and water scarcity. For this reason, cultivated lands in Laayoune undergo very important changes.
The region has an important livestock which constitutes the central source of income for farmers. Camels and goats occupy a pre-eminent position in stock-rearing in southern provinces.
The south of Morocco is noted for its remarkably abundant and varied halieutic resources.
The southern Atlantic coastlines don in fact, hold tremendous potential in the area of fishing. As such these 17000kilometers of coastlines constitute a genuine lever of economic growth.
Tow strategic actions are thus provided for the upgrading of the existing sites and the creation of new» fishermen’s Villages “on selected sites.
The region is famous for its mineral resources, notably phosphate, salt and sand.
The phosphate mine of Boucraa, is about 100 km to the southwest of Laayoune. Phosphate undergoes several enriching processes before being exported abroad.
The region boasts huge tourist potentials, such as the diverse desert landscapes, especially the coastline extending for hundreds of kilometres and offering wonderful beaches and a suitable environment for the promotion of beach tourism, in addition to the tourism of caves and unfamiliarity.
The region also has important historical monuments, particularly in Tarfaya, such as the Portuguese Casamar, the statue of Saint Exupéry and the Spanish minaret in Boujdour.
In view of its tourist specifities and its proximity to the tourist poles of Agadir and the Canary Islands, the region is invited to play a dynamic role in promotion and support of tourism.
The role of water grows in importance in arid regions which are characterized with a lox level of precipitations, scarce underground water supplies, poor vegetal cover and low natural diversity.
Hence, the results brought about by a political will to utilize water resources in the southern provinces have greatly contributed to change people’s lifestyle. This represented a huge challenge to the landscape as this process entailed draining water from sands in order to supply the population with water and to fertilize dry lands.
Before 1975, public water pipelines were inexistent; few categories of citizens had access to salty water supply networks and fresh waters carried from the Canary Islands.
The majority of the population were using the small quantities of rainwater “ghadir” that were stored in underground reservoirs called “matfiya”. The rare water drilling operations were undertaken at that time mainly to address the needs of phosphate mines in Bougraa.
In view of these challenges, Moroccan authorities focused on putting an end to this state of shortage that characterized this region through an enhanced productivity and a balanced distribution of consumption in urban and rural areas.
Electrification, one of the main vectors of economic and social development, is presently a concrete reality in the southern provinces.
Back in 1975, most cities and villages were not electrified; today they are mostly endowed with power-generating units and distribution networks. The efforts of the public authorities have been geared towards two major poles: the development of the production capacity, and the setting up of a distribution network. The ultimate goal is to make the entire region, including urban centers, autonomous in terms of power supply. To this end, new power plants have been built in the main urban centers, while the older power plants have been consolidated.
Providing the provinces of the Sahara with reliable and good quality transmission equipment was imperative for two basic reasons: firstly to strengthen national unity, and secondly to create a communications system without with the pace of development work in various sectors of activity would have been hindered.
After 1975, the needs in this area were immense given the lack of direct telephone links with the remainder of the country.
In view of the important and vital role that the transport sector plays in overall sustainable development, and being particularly aware of the need to promote the local economy in the Sahara provinces, the central and the regional authorities in charge of the sector of transport in the southern provinces have been insisting on accelerating the dynamics of all the components in this sector so that it can fully play its role, so much so as these provinces enjoying a strategic location and huge natural wealth have now acquired thanks to the efforts of the State, an important system in road, sea and air transport.
This has resulted in relieving the isolation of the region, boosting the local economy, positively impacting the standards of living through facilitating the movements of people providing the necessary goods, and marketing the various products of the region.
Education and training
The growing increase in the number of the students in the southern provinces is considered an indicator testifying to the importance that the State attaches to the educational sector, so much so as the number of students dif not exceed a few hundreds back in 1975.
This huge rise in the number of students reflects the effective efforts and plans of the Moroccan government in the educational field in the southern provinces since they regained independence.
The right to education has also been speeded up in good conditions so as to allow the children at schooling age to join schools, and also to allow the youth who have never enrolled or have dropped out to have access to vocational training.
The housing and urban planning sector in the Sahara has gone through tremendous change since it regained independence, particularly after the notables success of the various housing programmes and projects, which resulted in several residential complexes that have effectively integrated the urban areas in compliance with the urban planning development prepared for this purpose.
The health sector, alongside the other sectors, plays a role of paramount importance in social development thanks to the services it provides as regards comprehensive health care. In fact infrastructure in sahrawi provinces witnesses a noticeable progress on account of the efforts exerted by the state in this connection.
The health care policy implemented in sahrawi provinces since 1976 is materialized in the numerous achievements accomplished by the state as well as in the quality of health services provided by the created facilities and in the improving health conditions of the population.