Ecomuseum of the Khettara in the Tifalalet, Morocco Translated from the French by Dorothée Vandamme 

Khettaras are a historical, artistic and cultural testimony of how man faces climatic aridity while respecting natural resources. Also known as Qanat, Foggara or Kareez, they are water catchment tunnels which function through the phenomena of capillarity, filtration and condensation. Illustrating how we can tackle the global water issue, they are a symbol of how mastering traditional knowledge can be useful to develop new sustainable strategies for human progress. They hold a particular importance for water supply in extremely arid zones, for their capacity to supply drinking water and irrigation to arid and semiarid areas.







The Living Ecomuseum of Khettaras, in the Tafilalet region, Morocco, is located in a region with one of the highest concentration of khettaras in the world. The aim of this ecomuseum is to preserve and highlight this heritage. The Tafilalet Oasis’ Sustainable Territorial Development Program (POT) develops the project, which is implemented by the Direction of Territorial Planning and the UNDP, among others. The underlying concept behind building the museum is to present khettaras as a symbol of appropriate use of resources and of the relationship between cultural heritage and sustainable development. This territorial project has a double effect: first, its diffuse nature leads to a territorial dynamic, as the global coherence of the museum integrates components of oasis ecosystems. Second, the conceptual approaches reflect the POT’s action for integrated sustainable development.

Museum’s guests will undertake a journey of learning through travel and discovery of the different types of catchment tunnels, water-management systems and oases, with the help of information and documentation screens, and encounters with the local population, art, folklore, music and traditions. Different areas are organized for leisure activities, hospitality and reception in certified family-managed structures and hotels. Local authorities, the Jamâa, associations and artisans will also be involved in managing and organizing the museum. All the information concerning the ecomuseum and touristic information will be available online with Google Earth geo-references points, and via Wi-Fi throughout the online visitors’ itinerary.

The museum hub is located in Fezna. The junction of different landscape areas enables to understand and experience the ecology of the desert: the desert area in the south-east; the palm grove area in the east with a nomad settlement area and water phyto-treatment (3); a 950-meters-high mountain area (about 3,116ft) in the south (4), offering a panoramic view of the museum (1), the desert and the khettaras (6); and a desert ecosystem testing area (5).

Shaped like a ksar, the museum planimetry is a reminder of the local architectural style, built with thick mud brick walls and angle turrets. The general outline is composed of geometric modules placed along the water gravitation route, which comes down from the cave-hill in the north-west and goes to the oasis garden in the southeast. The museum is built around a courtyard, and the premises are closed to the outside.

The itinerary across the three sectors – garden, services and offices, and museum – follows the water flow. A fourth sector, fully integrated to the natural environment, is composed of the cave underground area and the panoramic rocky patio. Each of the four rooms in the museum has a theme: “The Khettaras life cycle: construction, functioning, restoration”; “Khettara, the hydraulic system of the Tafilalet region, and collective water management in Oases and the Tafilalet Desert”; “The Ecomuseum of Khettaras: a water- and energy-integrated management model in the Tafilalet region”; “The Majhoul route and the Ecomuseum of Khettaras’ satellite sites”.

The total cost of the Ecomuseum of Khettaras has been assessed to Dh. 11,500,000 (about $1,355,397).

For additional information on the Ecomuseum of the Khettaram see IPOGEA Traditional Knowledge Research Center.