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M'zab valley

Algeria: Re-inventing the circular irrigation system in the semi-desert Mzab valley

Local irrigation communities capture flash floods and direct these to artificially recharge groundwater. Water is then made available for irrigation through shared shallow wells.

However, recent agricultural development programs have established new agricultural oriented toward intensive farming "agri-business" through the use of energy inefficient pumping in order to achieve food self-sufficiency and to reduce the costs of imports (e.g. cereals). This agricultural model has caused the decline of deep groundwater, degradation of the quality of shallow groundwater and others environmental problems.

Regardless of these programs, the oasis communities have developed another agricultural model on the lands surrounding the ancient oases. The agriculture practice is based on the combination of traditional knowledge inherited from ancient oases (e.g circular irrigation, natural fertilizer) and modern farming practices and techniques (drip irrigation, water inefficient crops) in order to produce a healthier and more sustainable market agriculture.