Oasis of Mezguita — Drâa Valley, Morocco (October 2019)
Photograph and Narrative Provided by Lisa Bossenbroek and Zakaria Kadiri
This picture was taken in the Oasis of Mezguita, in the upper Drâa Valley located in the South East of Morocco. It shows a small group of women washing their laundry in a water pond. This water pond is used to catch the rare rains of the region, the water released twice a year from the El Mansour Eddahbi dam, and serves to recharge the aquifer. In addition, women come to this pond to wash their laundry. This activity is an occasion for Oasian women to extend their mobility beyond the house and the family “garden” situated in the oases and to get together. The pound is situated at the outskirts of the douar where the social control is less rigid. Therefore, women regard this activity as an opportunity to exchange and talk about private issues. For some young women, it is also a chance to chat on WhatsApp with their male friends far away from the watchful eye of male and elder family members.
Yet, due to climate change and new actors (e.g. a solar station and golf courses) located upstream near the dam and who directly use water from the dam, such ponds are endangered. When the dam was constructed in the early 70s, water was released six times a year. Over the last couple of years, the number of water releases diminished to three, and since two years to two. Changing surface water flows will not only impact the recharge of the aquifer, but will also affect the social-gendered activities that surround it.