Climate change is leaving its mark on Morocco’s oases, too. Sandstorms are becoming more and more frequent, groundwater levels are sinking and palm trees are shrivelling up and dying. An age-old way of life is in danger.
Halim Sbai says an oasis really is a paradise. But drought and desertification are now taking their toll on oases like M’hamid El Ghizlane in southeastern Morocco where he grew up. The survival of a whole region is at stake. Over hundreds of kilometers between the Anti-Atlas mountains and the Sahara desert there is one palm-fringed oasis after the next. Close to two million people live in these settlements. Up to now, many earned their living by harvesting dates from the palm trees. But this is proving more and more difficult. Decreasing and irregular rainfall is having a devastating impact on the trees and their yields.
Halim Sbai is planting new palm trees and preserving as much precious water as he can in a bid to keep the oasis of M’hamid El Ghizlane and the region’s traditional way of life alive. Up to now, he has also been supplementing his income with earnings from tourism. Global warming could put an end to all this.