Water, the treasure of the desert

One of the first things that we learn as children is that three quarters of the surface of our planet is covered in water. In science class, they also teach us that 75% of our own bodies are made up of this vital liquid. More than half of the water is located inside our cells, and the rest circulates in our blood, to soak the tissues. If that wasn’t enough, it has been proven that the average human cannot survive for more than three days without water.

Water is clearly essential for life. But, what happens in the parts of the planet where this element is scarce? In places like the desert, careful handling of water resources becomes a question of survival.

Three thousand years ago, the Persians came up with a system of tunnels to channel underground water in desert areas — “foggaras.” They were able to use them to transport water from the main aquifer or “mother well” to the areas where they lived and planted their crops.

There is currently a very large underground aquifer in northern Africa that creates an oasis along the axis that connects Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Mali, and Algeria.

The foggaras system is particularly vital for the local tribes that live in the Algerian desert. Each tribe works together to install a foggara, and uses the water to irrigate their lands. They manage to grow — almost by miracle — cereals and vegetables in the middle of the Sahara desert.

It’s no wonder that for them, water is the greatest treasure.

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