“Tucked away in Morocco’s high Atlas mountains the vast oasis of Errachidia, among the most beautiful in the south of the country, is today threatened by bad management.
“I dug four wells before finding water. Around me, the neighbours have no water. Before, there was water everywhere. That’s the will of God,” M’barek added, staring down at the stream carrying well water to the fields.
“For centuries the sharing out of water in the oasis, now threatened with drying out, was managed in the “khattara” tradition, whereby water towers were used and distribution took place according to need, in line with ancestral Berber rites.
“This system made it possible to maintain a regular flow of water all year round.
“From the 1970s, farmers have introduced water pumps, leading to the progressive depletion of the water table. Fields, once steadily cultivated and green, are now wasteland abandoned by the oasis dwellers.
“The outlines of the fields, you can see how big they are. Look, one, two, three, four meters (13 yards) wide. They are big, so that means there was lots of water,” said Lahcen Kabiri, professor of environmental geosciences at the University of Errachidia.
“Kabiri said the situation “could turn into a real catastrophe in light of the role of oases in the struggle against desertification.
“If the water runs out, then everything that depends on it will be in a dramatic situation. We will be up against an unprecedented ecological disaster.”
Read more: Phys