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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Managing Water: Morocco

Water in Africa

Africa, Lesotho

by Ryan Powell, Ait Yaddou, Morocco

The women collect all water. They wash the clothes, children, and kitchenware and do all the cooking. They pour water into cups for drinking during meals and to wash hands before and after eating.

Fields of wheat, potato, alfalfa, corn, carrots, onions, turnips, squash, and tomatoes, along with walnut, almond, apple, grape, peace, pear, plum, and apricot trees are all irrigated by the spring. There are many places along the concrete irrigation ditch where there is an opening left to irrigate fields. These openings are filled with rocks and dirt to keep the water flowing when not in use. Each household is allotted set blocks of hours (from one hour to eight hours a day) to irrigate their fields. These blocks of irrigation times were established by the people in the village a long time ago.

by Jennifer Bohman, Souss Massa National Park, Morocco

The mayors of small villages are called moquadems, and I believe they are responsible for managing the well and pump, making sure the bleach is added. There is also a village association charged with making decisions in the village. These associations are composed exclusively of men; in Muslim Morocco, men are undeniably in control of government and women are confined to affairs of the home. The village association may make a decision about building wells, for example, but it is the women who are always responsible for gathering the water.

by Erin Olson, Agadir L'henna, Morocco

Each community is responsible for its own well. If something breaks on the well or one of the buckets wears out, everyone pitches in to get it fixed. People who have their own personal well take responsibility for it.

Women are the ones who fetch water for the family, but men go out to the farm to pull dirt along the intersection of the irrigation ditches to divert water to and away from their fields. Different families are allowed to irrigate their fields on different days.

by Jessica Seem, Zaouia Village, Morocco

Since we have no irrigation issues to manage, it is the women who are in charge of making sure the household water is fetched each day.

by Beth Giebus, Tetouan and Agadir, Morocco

Moroccans rely heavily on dams to capture and store water from precipitation. The government instituted a policy more than two decades ago calling for the building of a certain number of dams a year; in fact, reaching the annual target for building these dams has become a national priority. Since this policy was instituted, Morocco has been able to withstand long periods of drought.

Problems are arising, however, due to the erosion of reservoirs and the accumulation of silt. Moreover, dams have had some adverse effects on the environmental integrity of certain regions. It's a major trade-off for Moroccan water authorities.

It's very hard to be a decision maker in the water sector in Morocco. Water supply levels dictate the country's economic and social policy. The national budget is ratified by Parliament only after an analysis of the effects of the rainy season on agriculture. Water shortages mean higher unemployment rates, layoffs, and heavy emigration from rural to urban areas. This often translates into political instability and significant social problems.

A plentiful rainy season, on the other hand, means that enough government and private funds are available to buy grain from international markets, leading to less recourse to international institutions for loans, more exports, and more jobs.

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