This study evaluates the effect on the availability of water resources for agriculture of expected future changes in precipitation and temperature distributions in north-western Africa. It also puts forward some locally derived adaptation strategies to climate change that can have a positive impact on water resources in the Chtouka Aït Baha region.
Historical baselines of precipitation and temperature were derived using satellite data respectively from CHIRPS and CRU, while future projections of temperature and precipitation were extracted from the Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment database (CORDEX). Projections were also generated for two future periods (2030–2049 and 2080–2099) under two Representative Concentration Pathways: RCP4.5 and RCP8.5. Regional climate models and satellite data outputs were evaluated by calculating their bias and RMSE against historical baseline and observed data.
Under the RCP8.5 scenario, temperature in the region shows an increase by 2 °C for the 2030–2049 time period, and by 4 to 5 °C towards the end of the 21st century. According to the RCP4.5 scenario, precipitation shows a reduction of 10 to 30% for the period 2030–2049, up to 60% for 2080–2099. Outputs from the climate change projections were used to force the HEC-HMS hydrological model. Simulation results indicate that water deficit at basin level will likely triple towards 2050 due to increase in water demand and decrease in aquifer recharge and dam storage. This alarming situation, in a country that already suffers from water insecurity, emphasizes the need for more efforts to implement climate change adaptation measures. This paper presents an assessment of 38 climate change adaptation measures according to several criteria. The evaluation shows that measures affecting the management of water resources have the highest benefit-to-efforts ratio, which indicates that decision makers and stakeholders should increasingly focus their efforts on management measures.