Morocco's King Mohammed VI led a parade in Rabat from the royal palace ahead of a speech to mark the start of the parliamentary session in which he urged all citizens to tackle the urgent challenges of a severe drought.
He said: "The country is currently experiencing the most severe drought it has seen in over three decades. In the face of this ordeal, we implore the Lord to bless our country with good rains.
"In order to remedy this situation, we have adopted, since last February, within the framework of the 'Plan to combat the effects of drought,' anticipatory measures aiming to secure the availability of drinking water, to support farmers and to preserve livestock."
Morocco is heavily dependent on agriculture but the filling rate of dams is reaching only a quarter of normal levels.
The King said people should use water sensibly and preserve the water tables.
"We have dedicated several working sessions to this issue, which have resulted in the development of the National Priority Water Programme 2022-2027," he explained.
"Since our accession to the throne, we have consistently and resolutely pursued the policy of building dams. More than 50 new large and medium-sized dams have been built and another 20 are under construction."
The start of the parliamentary year is taking place in a climate of economic and social crisis, marked by inflation of 8% over one year, fuelled by the surge in the price of raw materials at the global level and sluggish growth.
The king asked the government to launch a "national pact for investment" in partnership with the private and banking sectors
He said the move could raise over $48 billion and create 500,000 jobs by 2026.
It is the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 that the king has addressed parliamentarians in person.
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