Genesis Morocco: Opportunity When Disaster Strikes

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Genesis Morocco

Project Genesis is a strategic sustainable development framework for Morocco to translate from being a net importer of energy and a country facing water shortage issues, into the number one producer both of clean renewable energy and water in the region.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011    <<Home

Opportunity When Disaster Strikes

The Great Man Made River, undoubtedly a title dreamt up by Khaddafi is actually a realization Lybians have every reason to be proud of. And it can and should be tried elswhere, I find it a tremendous way to irrigate the desert and make it exploitable in agriculture. Libyans have also know how in pilot agriculture, so there's a tremendous opportunity for collaboration on the renewables, water and agriculture front. Two articles below by Green Prophet.

Muamar Gaddafi’s compound goes up in smoke. Are his environmental projects next?
Events in the Libyan capital of Tripoli have been happening so fast that even major news media sites like CNN and Sky News have had a hard time keeping up with them. But one thing is now certain –– Muamar Gaddafi, the eccentric, often “off the wall” leader of Africa’s richest oil country, and environmental “innovator” of projects like the “Great Man Made River” project, and the unique pivot irrigation farms in the Sahara Desert, is no longer in charge.
gadaffi gaddafi libyaHave you seen this man?
With Tripoli now largely in the hands of rebel forces, whose ethnic backgrounds represent no less then 138 indigenous tribes scattered over the country’s vast territory, and Gaddafi’s own whereabouts still unknown, it is still far to early for both archaeologists and environmentalists to try to figure out what will be the destiny of the unique ancient sites in this country.
This also applies to the two previously named irrigation and farming projects, which have not only helped supply the country with food but much of its fresh water as well. Gaddafi, who used the color green to symbolize his 1969 revolution and more than 40 years of “iron fist” rule, also used this color to symbolize his “green visions” of environmentally changing a part of the world that has one of the most inhospitable climates.
It now appears that this new revolution may put most or all of these green projects on an indefinite hold.
gadaffi libyaNow just a “pipe dream”?
When the dust finally does settle, and the “sweet thrill of victory” becomes a bit bittersweet when salaries stop coming in to bank accounts, food becomes scarce in grocery stores and public “shuk” markets. And if the pumps for the Great Man Made River stop working, water will be scarce as well. In the aftermath of Gaddafi’s downfall, as when Saddam Hussein was defeated in Iraq, a lot of confusion and acts of looting will undoubtedly take place.
And unfortunately, as occurred in Baghdad, historical sites, especially museums, will be targeted by people not only wanting to take revenge for more than 40 years of persecution, but also to profit by selling the artifacts to antiquities dealers abroad. With so many tribes who have not been so friendly to one another, the country itself could wind up being split into several autonomous areas, like what happened to Yugoslavia several years back.
The interim rebel government has it’s hands full to hold things together and try to unite a people who only were previously “united” due to Muamar Gaddafi’s heavy hand.
As for the Great Man Made River, and for everyone’s sake in Libya, hopefully the water will continue to flow.

               Libyan pivot irrigation at Al KHufrah Oasis: These are not crop circles or part of an Alien movie plot!
Libya, in North Africa, now drilling for oil with BP is a country that is not exactly known for having ample  quantities of fresh water let alone enough water to be used to any extent in agriculture. Yet this North African desert country, ruled by a man who most people consider to be a bit “eccentric” (if not entirely off the wall)  has been involved for years in growing crops by a method known as pivot irrigation.
pivot irrigation
Center pivot irrigation piping: the water comes from here.
For those who are not aware of how this energy-intensive system works, it is designed to minimize water loss through evaporation, by utilizing a combination of sprinkler and drip irrigation methods that feeds water from a pivot point within a circle.
The water being fed to the crops is measured and dispersed from a series of circular pipes that are rotated on wheeled platforms the gradually moved out from the center of the circle; the place where the water originated from. By using this circular rotation method, less water is wasted and the crops inside the circular agricultural plot are able to receive the maximum amount of water available.
Although used in a number a number of countries, including India and desert regions of the USA, the use of this method to grow crops is so unique in Libya, that the circular pivot irrigation fields are often photographed by both orbiting satellites and NASA space shuttles passing overhead.
In a country like Libya, where more than 95% of the country consists of the near-waterless Sahara, this type of agriculture is not cheap, and is only possible by being able to tap underground fossil water deposits from a large underground aquifer like they’ve done in the Great Man Made River project. Each circular plot is about 1 km in diameter, and is able to grow a number of different crops include grains, fruits and vegetables, and crops for animal fodder.
Pivot irrigation in Jordan. 

Image via Manufactured Landscapes blog. A cool site that looks at man-made structures on earth using Google maps.
Libya is not the only Middle Eastern country trying to “green the desert” through the use of irrigation. Jordan is also practicing pivot irrigation (see above image); Israel has been irrigating for years via its patented “drip irrigation” methods through companies like Plastro and Netafim are now being used in arid regions all over the world, even in arch enemy countries like Syria, and other regional countries, including Qatar in the Persian Gulf region which is teaming up with Syria on agriculture projects intended to “green the desert.”
But none of these countries, except for Libya, have these circular pivot irrigated fields which can actually be seen from above by orbiting astronauts. No one really knows how much Libyan President Muammaral-Gaddafi has spent on these projects, which are probably costing a lot more than simply importing the crops his country needs. But when one is sitting on what is still one of the world’s largest oil reserves (at least 10% of the world’s oil)  then anything is possible – as long as the oil holds out.