Geography

Geography

Geography
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The road of Kelaa des Mgouna in Skoura crosses the rugged steppe, which lies at the bottom of the High-Atlas. The little center of Skoura lies east of the palm grove, fifteen kilometers North of Dadès Wadi. Its two main sub-tributaries are Mgoun Wadi and Hajaj Wadi, also known as Amridil Wadi..Mgoun Wadi always rolls water during dry season, the Hajaj Wadi, main water artery to the palm grove on the other hand is mostly always dry, as well as Tindir Wadi and their sub-tributaries.Dadès Wadi is always running but its summer flow is hardly sufficient for irrigation. The county to which it has given its name spreads on about two hundred and twenty kilometers. We can count more than a thousand douars, scattered mostly on the Southern side of the Atlas.

The high mountains of the Atlas are widely covered with snow in the winter. Snow, which constitutes a natural water reservoir that supplies all Wadis most part of the year. Located near Ouarzazate, the great damn of El Mansour Ed Dahbi, built in 1977, is withholding artificial water, for regulating the supply in water in the area and fight against desertification. The close proximity of the Sahara desert, the presence of natural borders such as the High Atlas as well as the Anti-Atlas explains the aridity with annual precipitation, ranging globally around 112mm in Ouarzazate and with almost absence of rainfall in the summer. Average minimal temperature varies between 1,9°C in January and 21,3°C in July. Average maximal temperature varies between 16,6°C in January and 37,8°C in July, when the temperature can easily exceed 45°C, despite it being located at 1200m of altitude.

Irrigation draws in Wadi Skoura and mostly still uses the traditional Khettaras in response to the drought of 1975-1980. This ingenious and very ecological system of Khettaras allowed capturing this precious element that is water, along the centuries, and in this way resisting further progression of desertification. This manner of collecting underground water goes back to the 3000 years of antic Persia and was supposedly imported to Morocco during the Arab conquest. Its purpose is to collect and direct rainwater, as well as deep waters for Oasis irrigation. Galleries are dug under water and leveled according to the land’s configuration, wells in regular spacing and open-air canals, SEGUIAS, which will spread the water throughout the palm’s grove labyrinth.

Skoura’s palm grove is mostly the largest part of it (about 40 kilometers). Stories are told that in the 13th century, water was way more abundant. Its decrease also diminished the cultivated surface. Thus, in 4000 hectares, 800 only could be irrigated in 1932. The palm grove feeds about 2000 Muslim homes and 100 Jewish ones. We can count 52’000 date palm trees that produce 3000 tons of dates during the best years, which are eaten locally. Barley is harvested in May, corn, sorghum and millet in September and they fill up ¾th of the irrigated land. The last quarter is dedicated to vegetables, such as broad bean, turnips, carrots, onions, fennel and cucurbit. Mostly anything will grow though.

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