Watermelons, Dates, and Living with Water Scarcity in Zagora

Jamie Fico


Southeast Morocco is known for its desert landscape, green oases, and nomadic and date-growing heritage. Today, the production of watermelon for export is increasing in places such as the Draa Valley in the Province of Zagora. Moroccan researchers and policy makers are calling for new water and agriculture strategies as the country faces increasing drought and reduced cereal harvests. Small-scale farmers are at the center of these changes—navigating water shortages and market fluctuations as the country orients towards international markets. This research examines the perspectives,  experiences, and daily realities of farmers and local residents in Zagora to understand how water and agriculture is changing in the rural, pre-Saharan oases of Morocco, and the impact this is having on local lives. 


 Jamie is a U.S. Fulbright researcher studying the interconnections of agriculture, social and environmental change in southeast Morocco. Her work stems from her time as U.S Peace Corps Volunteer in Zagora from 2018 to 2020, and focuses on local efforts and perspectives on the sustainability of oases, water management, farming and social change in the region. She recently completed her MA in Geography at Syracuse University in New York. Her thesis examines how farmers and residents are navigating water shortages in the Draa Valley Morocco, and the production of water scarcity in the region through Morocco’s hydro-agrarian development.


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