Morocco's Oases Fight Back Desert Sands

On the edge of the southwestern town of Rissani, Abdelrahman Ahmidani sighs as he reflects on the state of the Moroccan oasis, endangered by drought and climate change.

"Whoever lives here," he says, "is condemned to a life of poverty."

In Rissani, the sinuous mountain oasis of Tafilalet gradually disappears into the Sahara desert, after snaking green for dozens of kilometres (miles) down the Ziz valley.

The town, the tourist pamphlets say, was where Morocco's ruling family established itself in the 17th century and was once a major crossroads—famous for gold trade—on ancient merchant routes to Senegal and Sudan.

But since the 1980s, the sands have been advancing on the town.

Alex Watson


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