By TABOR SMITH
SBAA ROUADI, Morocco– Karime Zaraoui, 30, stands barefoot in a stream of water, his feet sinking into the moist earth that his father purchased from French colonizers, the land that will one day be his own. Karime worries about one thing; water.
“It’s not a drought, but the land suffers from scarcity of water,” Zaraoui said. He predicts within 15 years, a lack of water will make it hard to cultivate the land, which grows primarily cilantro and olives.
The Zaraoui family’s property lies in what is called Sbaa Rouadi, a small cluster of villages near Fez. Their first well dried up and they dug another, which currently supplies water to their land, but it hasn’t solved the problem.
“Water is getting rarer and rarer and rarer,” he said. While it is unclear exactly why the problem is occurring, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, many farmers experience water shortages due to the over pumping of wells — pumping water faster than it is replenished.
Zaraoui thinks that only one thing can help their situation; “drip irrigation,” perforated tubing through which water flows. The tubing is laid in rows along the planted crops, allowing the farmers to better control the flow of water, conserving more of the precious resource. Many of Zaraoui’s neighbors have adopted the system.
But the Zaraoui family faces a stumbling block. The problem — a legal confusion over who owns the Zaraoui family farm. The family is trying to work this out with the government authorities in Fez, but for now Zaraoui stands in the fields, moving dirt with his hoe to redirect his family’s water manually. With a worried look, he wonders what will come of his land, and of him.