Maghreb: desertification, new technique for harvesting water

Wadis-Mar project using natural underground reservoirs presented

05 July, 12:52

    A desert area in the Medenine province, Tunisia A desert area in the Medenine province, Tunisia

    ROME - A new technology for combating the desertification that affects nearly 40% of the planet and a third of the global population has been presented at a recent conference in Cagliari. The Water Harvesting and Agricultural Techniques in Dry Lands: an Integrated and Sustainable Model in the Maghreb Regions (Wadis-Mar) project involves harvesting the water from the rare but heavy rainfall in desert areas for use in agriculture by artificially refilling natural underground reservoirs.

    The project is financed by the EU and has been overseen by the desertification research nucleus at the university of Sassari, the Universitat de Barcelona (Ub), the Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel (Oss) of Tunis and the Institut des Régions Arides (Ira) of Médenine in Tunisia and the Agence Nationale des Ressources Hydrauliques (Anrh) in Algiers.

    The project is based on the principle of "subtracting from the desert and evaporation the millions of cubic metres of rain water that turbulently, violently and suddenly feed the 'wadi', periodical and fleeting water courses that are typical of dry areas, over the course of two or three weeks each year". Project coordinator Giorgio Ghiglieri, professor of hydrogeology at the university of Cagliari, has proposed a possible solution by topping up the aquifers artificially.

    Over four and a half years the researchers studied the hydrogeological composition of the two project areas before going on to examine possible uses for underground water supplies. Multi-disciplinary research also led to the identification of two aquifers suitable for artificial filling. 

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