SmaCuMed aims at developing a modular system for desalination of brackish groundwater that follows an integrated approach by providing a sustainable, innovative, cost effective and robust groundwater desalination in the field of smart irrigation. The all-in-one smart irrigation cube system will include a water management system for precision irrigation and crop intensification and will be powered by renewable energy using high efficient solar PV panels for autonomous operation in remote areas. The feasibility of the concept will be tested in two different locations in Morocco on the example of argan trees, date palms and/or olives. The project will focus on raising awareness among population, local and regional authorities on the urgency of tackling the environmental impacts of climate change on future crop productivity. For this, an environmental, economic and social sustainability assessment of the integrated system will be carried out (LCA, LCC) considering the context of the local environment in both Morocco and Tunisia as an example for the Mediterranean. The main goal herby is to enhance the regulatory framework of water supply & management and create economic support instruments for key stakeholders and decision makers in North African countries.

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Period of Implementation

Jun 16, 2020 - Nov 30, 2023
Total Budget

EUR 1,235,646.00



Develop an all-in-one smart irrigation cube for sustainable, innovative, and robust groundwater desalination following an integrated approach.


SmaCuMed targets six specific objectives: Objective 1: Modular system for desalination of groundwater for irrigation Objective 2: Robust and low-cost water management control system in real time Objective 3: Highly efficient energy supply system based on solar energy Objective 4: Awareness raising, capacity building and knowledge transfer Objective 5: Economic support instrument and regulatory framework Objective 6: Gender equality

Problems and Needs Analysis

Following the challenges and scope within PRIMA Topic 2, the SmaCuMed project addesses following problems: - Bridging the gap between actual water balances and optimum irrigation performance - Necessity to use saline water for irrigation to sustain crop productivity without the risk of soil and water salinization - Development of water balances (simulation, experimentation, observations) leading to: optimal water allocation, analysis of long-term scenarios and long-term impacts on soil, water & crops, and optimizing irrigation performance - Design of long-term, large-scale management and governance strategies to prevent and control soil/water salinization - Identifying representative case study areas, characterising the right water balance and availability in dialogue with local stakeholders, and capacity building to improve the long-term impact of the recommended practices.

Intervention Strategy(ies)

SmaCuMed will conduct two representative demonstration studies in Morocco with typical Mediterranean ambient conditions (arid and semi-arid) for the use of desalinated groundwater for irrigation. The piloting activities will be carried out in collaboration with local GOs, NGOs and agricultural cooperatives. The use of real-time sensors aims to control groundwater extraction rate and salinity in order to avoid over-extraction and salt intrusion abd target sustainable irrigation. The development of a water balance model based on the conditions of the pilot regions will help farmers improve their irrigation management efficiency. This tool will allow farmers to understand the real water requirements from their crops, promoting the optimization of resources management with focus on water, and energy. SmaCuMed will empower local stakeholders in the agro sectors by: 1) Raising awareness of environmental protection and food security, 2) Providing integral technical solutions for effective water management and irrigation, 3) Knowledge transfer into economic benefit and job creation. 4) Organizing trainings, round tables and panel discussions for local professionals, particularly considering gender equality.

Impact Pathway

SmaCuMed embraces and addresses the challenges on Adaptation of agriculture to climate change (Topics 2.1.2 & 2.1.1) mostly focusing on water scarcity and climate change conditions, bridging the gap between water balances and optimum irrigation, including dialogs with local stakeholders and aiming at long-term governance strategies to prevent and control soil/water salinization. Following expected impacts can be summarized in: • SmaCuMed will contribute to using at least 30% of brackish water resources for irrigation in Morocco, which is representative for other North African countries, and achieve a water exploitation index (WEI) in Morocco of <10% (which is currently 35%SmaCuMed will increase the irrigated agricultural area in Morocco of about 10% compared to the current area irrigated with groundwater. • SmaCuMed will reduce the irrigation rate by 25% by using real-time water metering and soil moisture sensors and refining a computer-based decision support system for sustainable agriculture based on all collected data during the pilot in Morocco • SmaCuMed will conduct training sessions, workshops and local stakeholder consultation meetings and information sessions for capacity building, exchanging best practices, lessons learned and experiences as well as limitations and drawbacks of the project technologies.