WIT Press

The Social And Political Impact Of The Privatization Of Groundwater: Conflict And Cooperation Around The Aquifer Of Saïss, Morocco


Free (open access)

Paper DOI






Page Range

43 - 53




472 kb


R. Fofack


From the beginning of the 1980s, irrigated agriculture in the Saïss plain, located in the North-East of Morocco, has mostly been made through groundwater resources. The aquifer is at the centre of various stakes, one of the most important of which is related to the privatization of modes of access and use of water for irrigation. Indeed, the transition from irrigation through surface water to an irrigation based on groundwater has contributed to the appearance of new actors in the aquifer’s area. This is even more accentuated as the transition to groundwater has modified rules for water access. From a community management point of view, they are now governed by a private and individualistic field: wells and tube-wells are personal, both regarding their process of construction and use. This rapid privatization generates conflicts for appropriation, use and control of resources between actors around such heterogeneous aquifer. Traditional, emergent and invisible actors, they all meet or avoid each other, either in a conflictual way or by developing cooperation. Who are these actors? What are their strategies and how do they deploy them in order to handle the access, use and control of groundwater? A case study led in three villages in the Saïss plain highlights the “sharing logics” of groundwater resources, in a context which is characterized by a growing scarcity of available resources. Our object is, first to analyse axes of conflict and cooperation and, secondly to show that these logics are multi-scale, multi-subject, and evolving.


privatization, groundwater, irrigated agriculture, conflict, cooperation, Saïss, Morocco