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Morocco is an old traditional country of irrigation. As in Spain, Its development began in the arabo-andalous period when many water technologies were used (khettaras, seguias, reservoirs). In the middle of XXth century, the first dams were built to regulate the rivers coming from Atlas Mountains, and with Independence, a new period of hydraulic schemes came with the objective to get 1 million irrigated hectares. This "big hydraulic system" development was conducted by the state through regional Offices. In addition, "small and medium hydraulic systems" still exist in many regions, especially in mountains and oases, but this old irrigation long been without official help for adaptation and modernisation. Morocco knows today all the difficulties of water and land management : financial crisis of the Offices, succession of drought years, environmental problems and changes in economy and institutions. After 10 years of creation of water users associations at local level in the Office, there is a need for new basin-based visions of users' organisation. New users and new management actors are present (watershed agency, cities, NGOs, local development associations).
The Case studies
Office du Haouz
The Office du Haouz is a good example of the main problems of Morocco in water management. It is one of the oldest irrigation zone and many systems still are used by farmers. The Office built new schemes, sometimes in the same place as old systems, sometimes in new dry lands. The water is very scarce, it comes from three main basins (in reality, more local basins provide water to the irrigated perimeters in the territory of the Office). The complexity of each collective network and the development of individual strategies to get underground water has to be understood to define new actions plans in organisation, institution and rules. The City of Marrakech is a big local market for small farmers and a good opportunity for exportation of citrus and others products. Competition exists for land use and water accessibility, between many economic and social groups. The dependency of the low lands of Marrakech to on the high lands of the mountain areas is another main issue consider in the preservation of resources.
Photo gallery : Haouz - Nfis valley - Marrakech (Morocco). Methodological seminar october 12-15 2003
valley of Ait Bouguemez
The valley of Ait Bouguemez is located in the centre Atlas Mountains and water management is a key to help the inhabitants to live and develop the Mountain economy through agriculture and eco-tourism. Many villages depend on different shared springs and canals. The water distribution is still governed by oral tradition, but after many years of water scarcity, people have begun to face internal difficulties. The World Bank is financing a modernisation of the canal with creation of formal water users association. What should be the future of the valley, the adaptation of the different villages to new institutions, rules and integration of water pricing in a traditional system? The association for local development of the valley is interested by the process of modernisation but people want to participate and define the new rules for the future. In both situations, Office du Haouz and Ait Bouguemez valley, we can find many elements of knowledge and the project may use resource people from NGO, administration, universities and research stakeholders.