The road to Fam El Hism in south eastern Morocco is a lonely, hot and dusty one.
The harsh climate and low rainfall means little grows here.
According to Morocco’s High Commission for Water, Forests and the Fight against Desertification, 80 per cent of the country is prone to desertification.
The changing climate conditions are most noticeable in places like Tanzida where palm trees used to be part of an oasis.
Moreover rain does not always provide welcome relief. Long periods of drought are often followed by severe flash flooding that destroys everything in its path.
“In the oasis, when it rains, it’s stormy rain with no benefit. It leads to soil erosion. In the past, 30 or 40 years ago, the width of Hajjaj River was ten metres but today, in some areas, the width of this river could reach 500 metres,” says the Deputy Chairman of Skoura rural commune, Jamal Yacoubi.
The High Commission says the scarcity of water and the moving sand dunes are the worst challenges the local populations have to face.
River beds are widening every year, making it difficult for local populations to move freely. When bridges are destroyed by the floods, villages are sometimes isolated for weeks.
A member of the local council of the rural commune of Souk Llakhmis Dades says the commune is suffering and needs help.
“Nobody is helping us. As you can see, there is no water in the river and the wells are starting to dry up. From where shall we bring water? We need a little bit of help to be encouraged,” says Hussein Sharafi.
With the help of its international partners, the High Commission is implementing a new ten year national plan to fight desertification until 2024.
This plan is based on awareness, partnership and the participation of local, regional and national players.
Its strategy is based on reforestation, the regeneration of vegetation cover and plans to prevent forest fires that destroy 3,000 hectares every year.