The Berber’s perfectly good and longstanding water management system (Green Prophet)

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Morocco’s Berbers Had Water Management Sorted

Linda Pappagallo

International water management policies in Morocco have disrupted the Berber’s perfectly good and longstanding system.

In 2009 I travelled to the High Atlas mountain region of Morocco to reach some friends that ran an eco-lodge in a very lonesome village with a wholesome lifestyle. The mother of Houssa, the owner of the eco-lodge, revealed the interesting methods used in the Berber tradition to manage their water supply. Sadly, these indigenous traditions have been falling apart since dam projects funded by the World Bank have disrupted local practices. “Now families are fighting over water, this was never the case in the past, our system was perfect, we don’t know why international organizations have come to help” Houssa’s mother said.

Water allocation methods

Water allocation methods used by the Berbers depend on two things: Land Tenure and Time. First Land Tenure is divided by elevation and the paths of springs. Land above the spring is used for seasonal grazing and land below for agriculture and personal use. And the organization of land-ownership is designated by tribe – so any water issues that arise are discussed between different tribes.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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