A paper presented by Eline Boelee and Hammou Laamrani.
The semi-arid Zaio region in North-eastern Morocco is one of the many parts of the country where water is stored for domestic purposes in subterranean tanks. A study was conducted to describe their importance, the different methods of storage and the multiple uses of the stored water. Though originally designed for the storage of rainwater, the tanks are now often filled with water from irrigation canals.
A full tank can provide water for a period of one week to more than two months, depending on the size, type of use and number of people in the household. The water is used for different purposes including drinking, cooking, bathing, washing utensils, sweeping the floor, laundry, sanitation, watering cattle, small scale brick making and home gardens. More than half of the users who drink the water, treat it with chlorine or crushed limestone. Users indicated an interest in simple and cheap treatment methods to improve the water quality. The tank water is the only source of water for sanitation and hygiene, thus bringing substantial health benefits to the households. Without the tanks, the water use per capita would be far below the minimum health requirements. Livestock, home gardens and small scale brick making also depend on water from the tanks and hence contribute substantially to local income. The paper compares experiences in Zaio to other regions in Morocco, demonstrating how the multiple uses of stored irrigation water can contribute to improving rural livelihoods beyond the advantages of irrigation. It argues that investments in water resources development could be more cost-efficient if multipurpose systems were conceived, catering for both agricultural and domestic water needs. [authors abstract]