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Internship proposal Assoul Morocco
Adriaan Huijs, 14th October 2010

The Kantara foundation is an independent NGO (Kantara, 2009). The foundation focuses on Dutch-Moroccan interaction on the fields of nature, environment and sustainability. The foundation uses the small village of Assoul as a pilot project, to create an example of sustainable and innovative water management. This includes creating an erosion risk assessment and prevention plan, an innovative village water system and a new sanitation system for wastewater treatment.

Assoul is located in the province Chefchaouen in the north of Morocco. The village experiences a lot of water related challenges. The village is situated in a river valley, at the base of a mountain. The problems can be divided into three main issues. There is not enough clean drinking water. The drinking water which is available, is often polluted.

The second problem is directly related to the drinking water. It is the treatment of wastewater. At the moment, wastewater is gathered in holes in the ground, where it infiltrates into the groundwater. The water is not treated, and therefore pollutes the groundwater, which is used as the main source of drinking water.

The Kantara foundation has set up plans to treat the wastewater with an helophyte system. This system collects the wastewater from the houses in the villages and discharges it into wetlands, where helophyte plants will treat the water and afterwards it can safely infiltrate into the groundwater, or be used for irrigation.

The third problem is erosion. The mountain above the village has gradually been deforested and turned into agricultural land. This results in a bare soil during the rain season. Bare soil on mountain slopes give a high erosion risk. Therefore, it is no surprise the village often experiences floods, mud slides and a lot of erosion on the agricultural land. Deep and steep gullies divide plots and rill and interrill erosion destroy crops and plots.

According to the Kantara foundation, another (smaller) problem, related to the erosion, is the low infiltration rate on the mountainside. Due to low vegetation and steep slopes, almost all rainfall is converted into run-off. The low infiltration rate on the mountain creates a low groundwater level in the valley. Since the people depend on groundwater for drinking water, this is a serious issue. Erosion prevention should therefore aim at on site infiltration.

In its project plan, the Kantara foundation proposes the use of vetiver grass on the mountain slopes to reduce run-off and increase on site infiltration. Where necessary the vetiver grass could be fortified with stone rows. A final, and extreme measure would be building contour trenches which collect the surface run-off to infiltrate in the mountain. This last measure does however need a lot of space, and should therefore only be advised on the most severe spots.

The objective of this internship is to create maps of the upper part of the mountain above Assoul. These maps should inform on land use, state of the current erosion, erosion risk, annual soil loss and current erosion measures. Another objective is to evaluate the measures proposed in the project plan and advise on supplementary measures if the proposed measures seem insufficient. These maps will help the Kantara Foundation to decide upon the final strategy to attack the erosion problems in the village of Assoul.

To create maps of the upper part of the mountain first field observations will take place. Field observations will provide data on land use as well as the state of the current erosion. The field observations will also provide data on elevation, soil types and slopes. Combining land use, soil data, rain data and elevation data the erosion risk and annual soil loss can be detemined using the RUSLE (Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation) formula. Field work will also provide data on current erosion measures.

The elevation and soil data will be checked with maps of the area provided by a cartographer in Rabat. Rainfall data is provided from the weather station in Bouhmed. Slopes will be measured with an inclinometer and a GPS receiver. In the end the GIS program ILWISS will be used to create and visualize the maps.

The proposed measures in the Kantara project plan will be evaluated using the book of Morgan (2005), Soil erosion and conservation. They will be evaluated using criteria like infiltration increase, participation needed, use of local resources, costs etc. If the results show the measures are not optimal or sufficient, alternative or supplementary measures will be advised.

Contacts and housing
The Kantara foundation will provide housing and transport at the village of Stehat. From here travel will be done by bike to the village of Assoul. Housing will be provided at the home of Abdesselam el Filali, brother of the director of the Kantara Foundation. Contacts with Professor A. Larabi of the Ecole Mohammadia d' Ingenieurs (EMI) and Ewa Wietsma of Wageningen UR are available via the Kantara Foundation for technical support and advise. In the village of Assoul there will be contact with Mr. Morgha Farid, chairman of the Agricultural Organisation of Assoul, and Vice-Chairman of the village of Stehat for institutional support.

Contact with the Nimar (Nederlands Instituut Marokko) is also available with Jan Hoogland and Cynthia Plette for cultural support in Morocco as well as the use of Nimar’s contacts for information and advise. Via Nimar contact with an cartographer in Rabat will be made, to try and collect elevation and soil maps of the area.


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