A seasonal riverbed lies dry except for a small pool of standing water, on the outskirts of the Tata oasis, in southeastern Morocco
Sustainable Water Management and Indigenous Socio-Technical Heritage in Marrakech, Morocco


  • Cristiana Strava





water heritage, indigenous technology, Morocco, socio-technical, underground water system


Morocco is considered a water-independent country by the World Bank, yet due to its topographical diversity, considerable land surface, and challenges posed by climate change, it ranks among the most water-stressed countries on the globe. Marrakech, an oasis city in Morocco, thrived for centuries through the ingenious use of khettarat, a traditional system of underground wells and channels that tapped into local aquifers and made use of topography and gravity to sustainably deliver water to the city. Until the early 1990s, Marrakech could still meet all its drinking water demand with the use of khettarat. Owing to a combination of institutional, political and economic factors, the khettarat system went into sharp decline starting in the 1980s and was at risk of disappearing both as a form of heritage and as an Indigenous technology. Recent efforts by multiple stakeholders aim to safeguard and re-introduce khetterat. They demonstrate the importance of local socio-technical systems in ensuring equitable and sustainable development in Morocco and similar arid regions around the world.

How to Cite

Strava, C. (2024). Sustainable Water Management and Indigenous Socio-Technical Heritage in Marrakech, Morocco. Blue Papers, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.58981/bluepapers.2024.1.17





methodologies and case studies

Author Biography

Cristiana Strava

Cristiana Strava is Assistant Professor in the Institute for Area Studies at Leiden University. She received her BA degree in anthropology and visual and environmental studies from Harvard University (2009) and holds a PhD in sociology and anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (2016). She has over a decade of experience conducting academic and professional research in North Africa. Her previous collaborations include projects funded by the UNDP and the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GIZ) on sustainable building and community adaptation to climate change. Her research broadly deals with the co-production of space and society, and the challenges placed on marginalized communities by natural and human forces. Her publications include the monograph Precarious Modernities: Assembling Space, Place and Society on the Urban Margins in Morocco with Zed Books (2021), as well as several peer-reviewed articles on the politics and logics of urban planning and housing informality (City & Society), waste (etnofoor) and mega-infrastructure projects (Ethnos). Since 2023 she has served as co-director of ReCNTR, a cross-faculty multi-modal research center at Leiden.


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