Khettharas, oasis irrigation

Khettaras, oasis sources

Water delivery system

“Khettara” is the entire groundwater mobilisation system. From the irrigation gallery to the well allowing the drainage of water from the ground water table, and thus, to convey it to the recovery basin or directly to the open-air irrigation canals called seguias.

This technique is said to have emerged in Persia more than 3000 years ago and was introduced in Morocco during the 7th century when the Arabs conquered the Maghreb.

Khettara consists of two parts

The subterranean part, slightly sloping, is the one that drains water by gravity from the mountain towards the oasis.
The conductive part, the seguias, expands the water within the oasis.

Throughout, at regular intervals, wells were dug to evacuate the earth as the tunnel progressed.

They remain precious, making it easier to maintain underground galleries. This water is mainly used for agriculture, a vital source of life for oasis fields.

The management of water distributed by a khettara obeys traditional norms of distribution called the right to water.
Originally, the volume of water allocated per user was proportional to the works provided during the construction of the khettara and translated into an irrigation period during which the beneficiary has all the flow of the khettara for its fields.

Even today, when the khettara is not dried up, this rule of the right to water continues and a share can be sold or bought. Because it is also necessary to take into account the size of each family’s irrigated fields.

Khettaras to Erfoud

The road from Erfoud to Tinejdad is bordered by a khettara for a few kilometres.

Strange and imposing mounds of dried earth, often surmounted by a wooden pulley, can be seen. At their feet, in the shade of Berber tents, men await travellers while sipping a mint tea.

It explains how a khettara works. Above all, a staircase has been dug to descend into the underground gallery, as it is dry and can be visited.

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