Youth get involved to fight for the future of their oases


By Mathilde Bourjac – CARI

In North Africa, climate change and changes in land and water use are threatening the existence of oases. For thousands of years the oases of the region have been a vital part of the economy, culture and traditions of the region. The youth of oasis communities are the most vulnerable in the face of the dangers threatening oases, which include changes in land use practices, threats to water resources, aridity, degradation of fertile land.

Inadequately empowered by their communities, not benefiting sufficiently from the knowledge of their elders and uncertain about the transfer of land rights to them from their parents, they often lose interest in agricultural and oasis activities. And for these young people, their dreams of a better future often take them on the roads to the cities, or even to other countries.

In December 2019, some twenty volunteers from Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, France and Germany worked together for three weeks in Chenini Gabès, Tunisia, to develop a risk management plan for oases. This gathering created an opportunity for the young people to collect and collate data on the oases and analyse results using the Active Method of Participative Research (MARP). The objective: to carry out a collective reflection on the risks linked to water, phytosanitary, biodiversity, soils and the surrounding environment. This activity also strengthened the connections and relations between young people, institutions and civil society in Chenini.

Thanks to the TERO workshop, a cadre of volunteers is now trained to understand the particularities of the oasis ecosystem and the risks threatening its productivity and sustainability, and have begun a collective dialogue on solutions. They are now trained and ready to be the actors of tomorrow for oasis preservation.

This process has been supported by CARI and its partners in the Réseau Associatif de Développement Durable des Oasis (RADDO), along with France Volontaire and Focsiv in a project known as TERO. This project aimed to bring young volunteers, trained by local oasis associations, to enable them to reach out to local communities and raise awareness and promote citizen participation in taking preventive actions in the fight against the impacts of climate change and desertification.

→ for more on TERO explore their website

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