Liberation or anarchy? The Janus nature of groundwater use on North Africa's new irrigation frontiers

Kuper Marcel, Faysse Nicolas, Hammani Ali, Hartani Tarik, Marlet Serge, Hamamouche Meriem Farah, Ameur Fatah. 2016. Liberation or anarchy? The Janus nature of groundwater use on North Africa's new irrigation frontiers. In : Integrated groundwater management: concepts, approaches and challenges. Jakeman, Anthony J. (ed.), Barreteau Olivier (ed.), Hunt Randall J. (ed.), Rinaudo Jean-Daniel (ed.), Ross Andrew (ed.). Cham : Springer International Publishing, pp. 583-615. ISBN 978-3-319-23576-9

Book chapter
Published version - Anglais
Use under authorization by the author or CIRAD.
2016 Liberation or anarchy Kuper et al.pdf

Télécharger (728kB) | Preview

Url - éditeur :

Abstract : Two contrasting views prevail on groundwater use in situations of predominantly state-led irrigation development. The first considers "groundwater as liberation", i.e., how, by capturing the irrigation initiative, farmers liberated themselves from "state" water, enabling more intensive and productive agriculture. The second view – "groundwater as anarchy" – considers groundwater as a declining resource, overexploited by millions of individualistic farmers in the absence of effective groundwater governance with mounting inequalities in groundwater use. We analyse the Janus nature of groundwater in the expanding groundwater economy in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Groundwater has redesigned irrigation frontiers, and caters to over 60 % of the total irrigated area, supplying more than 500,000 farms with irrigation water. However, more than half of the aquifers are overexploited, and typically only 40–50 % of farmers in a given area access groundwater. We conclude that groundwater use in North Africa cannot be qualified as anarchy, but rather as a negotiated disorder where the interests of farmers, the private sector, and the state, are continuously realigned. Groundwater "liberated" farmers only partially from "state" water, as the state has remained present in groundwater economies. Moreover, groundwater concerned a minority of farmers, who are often keen to get state support when facing resource depletion or harsh agricultural markets. Breaking the current conundrum will require creating space for change, by making visible the current and future effects of groundwater dynamics to local actors, and supporting the building of coalitions of actors towards a sustainable agricultural use of groundwater. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Gestion des eaux, Irrigation, Utilisation de l'eau, eau souterraine, Eau d'irrigation, Ressource en eau, Approvisionnement en eau, politique de l'eau, Conservation de l'eau, Épuisement des ressources, Privatisation, Collectivisation, Environnement socioéconomique

Mots-clés géographiques Agrovoc : Afrique du Nord, Algérie, Maroc, Tunisie

Mots-clés libres : Groundwater, Irrigation, Groundwater use, Policies, North Africa

Classification Agris : P10 - Water resources and management
F06 - Irrigation
E14 - Development economics and policies
P01 - Nature conservation and land resources

Champ stratégique Cirad : Axe 1 (2014-2018) - Agriculture écologiquement intensive

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Kuper Marcel, CIRAD-ES-UMR G-EAU (MAR) ORCID: 0000-0002-1240-0592
  • Faysse Nicolas, CIRAD-ES-UMR G-EAU (THA)
  • Hammani Ali, IAV Hassan II (MAR)
  • Hartani Tarik, ENSA (DZA)
  • Marlet Serge, CIRAD-ES-UMR G-EAU (FRA) ORCID: 0000-0001-7477-922X
  • Hamamouche Meriem Farah, CIRAD-ES-UMR G-EAU (FRA)
  • Ameur Fatah, CIRAD-ES-UMR G-EAU (FRA)

Autres liens de la publication

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

View Item (staff only) View Item (staff only)

[ Page générée et mise en cache le 2021-05-10 ]