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The Matfias, a traditional tool for rural water harvesting & storage in Morocco
Abda region as case study

Water is a commodity necessary for life; it is essential to socio-economic development and maintaining the environmental balance. Since the dawn of humanity, water has been a major issue for its survival. Meeting the water needs is a thorny issue particularly for areas with arid and semi arid climate, which lack water resources. This clearly applies for some regions in Morocco, such as the Abda valley, where low water level represents an acute environmental issue.

Faced with this situation, the people of Abda valley have been seeking for methods to control and protect rainwater and groundwater. In their attempt to capture water they have been using wells and tanks that developed an underground system called Ntafi(s) or Matfia(s) –depending on the region. Matfias were originally collective community action schemes, but with time they evolved in a way to be used in households and thus became privately owned.

The Matfias is a system developed to cope with the danger of drought and the irregular rainfalls in semi arid areas that ensures water to people and animals throughout the year. Its excellence lies in its simplicity and low cost, that allowed the development of settlements in the otherwise dry region of Abda.

In this case study we explain the function and use of the Matfias traditional system for collecting and storing rainwater underground, as it has been developed in the Adba valley of Morocco.