Without water, aren’t oases just mirages?

Bannière des papiers de position sur les oasis

Without water, aren’t oases just mirages?

In the oases, agriculture is not only the main resource of the local populations, but also an autonomous economy that has enabled them to survive in a vast and austere territory. For millennia, oasis people have developed ingenious techniques, adapted to local conditions, to survive in a hostile environment. These techniques are also
combined with social forms that are closely aligned with the former. Water control is a central pillar in this highly hierarchical collective organisation, the result of a consensus in some cases, but also sometimes of a power struggle. (Battesti,1996 in Zella et Smadhi, 2016).
The intrusion of the modern world into oases through technology, motorisation and industrialisation has caused major upheavals. The urban way of life has set in and agricultural work has declined to the benefit of the secondary and tertiary sectors. Subsistence farming in oases has become market farming. This has led to a drying
of the groundwater table, through the rise of the surface water table and the salinisation of agricultural land (Zella and Smadhi, 2016).
The observation made today is the depletion of water supply. This is caused by the overexploitation of groundwater by deep drilling systems, by the development of private pumping (often illegal), by the development of water-consuming crops not adapted to the oasis climate and by global warming.

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