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

The Abda plain is located on the western edge of the Atlantic plateau of Morocco. To the west of Abda is the Atlantic Ocean and to the east the Tensift El Haouz region with the regional capital city of Marrakech. To the north there is the plain of Doukkaladont with the main city of El Jadida and to the south the plain Chiadmas-Haha, respectively, where the city of Essaouira is located. These plains are known for their tourist resorts and their rich biodiversity especially of endemic plant species, i.e. argan vegetation.

The region of Abda is characterised by a semi-arid climate with irregular rainfall throughout the seasons and across years. It has relatively low and degraded vegetation. The landscape is characterised by an undulating topography favouring closed depressions, and a bedrock formed mainly by limestone, marl, clay and sandstone rocks, with the existence of gypsum.

Due to several physical and climatic factors, the region suffers from a quite pronounced shortage of water: even in the most privileged areas of the region the average rainfall does not exceed 400mm/yr. However, this average rainfall is distributed irregularly from one year to another and from one season to the other. Only the coastal front of the Abda region can mitigate the negative effect of high evaporations typical of the region.

In addition to the climate there are a series of human-related factors that contribute to the water shortage. The water consumption in the domestic and the agricultural sector is ever growing. The waste and the mismanagement of water particularly for irrigation worsen the water shortage problem.