The Tafraout area in Jebel Bani

The  valley of Tafraout - in the Jbel Bani Mountains - is about 2 hours drive from Zagora.
Electricity has only been available since mid-March 2016. Depending on where you live in Tafraout, there is more or less water, because the valley is crossed by an underground water vein similar to a river. Thus, the wells are of different depths, as for example approximately 140 m at the new nomadic school. If necessary, the inhabitants pump water into an open container a few hundred metres away from the house; women and children carry many canisters of water into their houses every day. There are hardly any toilets and showers.  For cooking, they use the wood collected during the daily migration of the shepherds. The nomads in the mountains take water, if available, from water holes or walk with a donkey to a well further away. The laundry is also washed there.
The inhabitants of Tafraout built in the past years step by step on two roads through the valley, the state supported them with equipment.

Since about 2015, agriculture in the Tafraout Valley has been developing rapidly. Around 2012/2013, only a few semi-nomads built watermelons in their gardens, and melon fields are now spreading throughout the high valley as far as the mountain slopes. The state provides support for farmers in the form of water reservoirs (approx. 20x5x3m) and pump houses. The people concentrate only on the cultivation of watermelons, which ripen in this area of Morocco as the first in the country. So far the melons have brought a good and fast income, but now negative effects are discernible. Due to the oversupply of watermelons and cool temperatures in April and May and consequently lower demand, some farmers have already fallen into debt.
A first alternative is offered by the medicinal plant project, which is supported by the hand in hand fund of the "Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V." .

A look into the mud houses, however, reveals no change. The daily drinking and industrial water is carried still with canisters from the open well into the house, it is cooked further with wood and baked.

In 2020, there was hardly any rain and so the government is limiting the area for watermelons to 2 ha per family for the coming growing season. It is also forbidden to sell or lease land to investors. It can only be hoped that tourism in Morocco will soon provide alternative income opportunities for the people of the desert again after almost a year of restrictions and absolutely no tourism

Aid projects
The nomadic families of Tafraout are supported since years with great commitment  by:

   The Italian association "Associazione Mondo Incantato" - Establishment of nomadic schools and funding of teachers -
FAO  - Financing of the 2nd nomad school in the Tafraout Valley -
the German associoation "Engineers without borders" - Ingenieure ohne Grenzen -
Sparkasse Markgräflerland - high water containers, water pipes and kitchen annex



HiHLogoThe Hand in Hand-Fund of "Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V."

supports the "Association Akabar for Sustainable Development and Culture - الثقافة و للتنمية أكابار جمعية جمعية" in the following project, which was initiated last year by Hafid Benyachou's trekking guest Annett Z. and started in summer 2019.                                    

This project aims to encourage rural women from the Tafraout/Jebel Bani area to cultivate medicinal herbs and teas in order to prevent the knowledge of medicinal plants from being forgotten. The first step of the project consists of finding, recording and photographing medicinal plants in Jebel Bani and the dune area. The older nomadic women, who have only transmitted their knowledge orally so far, will be interviewed and subsequently searched for the appropriate plants, photographed and the findings recorded in writing.

In the second phase of the project it is planned to cultivate suitable medicinal herbs on fields in the high valley of Tafraout, which will be bought or leased. The fields are to be cultivated by women. Marketing and sales will also be in the hands of the women, who will be able to earn their own income with this project. The aim is to establish a women's cooperative.

This project is intended to offer alternatives to the watermelon cultivation boom. Negative effects are already being felt.


Update to above project by September 2020

      herbal1   herbal2   

Hafid Benyachou states: our association "Association Akabar for Sustainable Development and Culture - الثقافة و للتنمية أكابار جمعية جمعية" together with Hand in Hand - Fund started a herbal project for women in Tafraout/Sahara area. The idea is to look for those herbal plants that our parents used and still use in their todays's life to keep fit and healthy. The project shows the young generation of both nomadic schools of Tafraout/Sahara the importance of those herbal plants in our life. And in the same time to think about planting them in ideal farm for herbals especially for women and thereby create some income for local women who do not have chances to create an own income. The project provided also some computers for the students who come in touch with the world of computers for the first time.


Private donations by our trekking guests:

Our Swiss partner has again provided a larger sum for the medical care of the nomadic families of the Jebel Bani area and promised further donations. In future, doctors will visit nomads of this area several times a year. Hafid Benyachou and the Association of Nomads "Association Akabar for Sustainable Development and Culture - الثقافة و للتنمية أكابار جمعية"  are planning to take appropriate measures together with the local health authority of Zagora.

Further Swiss donation projects:

  • desanding or deepening of some wells in the mountains 
  • involvement of lawyers to clarify the issues land rights of the nomads of Jebel Bani and review of the legality of a judgment
  • renewing trekking pathes far away in Bani mountains
  • support of the nomadic schools of Tafraout area


Reparation of well on 16th June 2018

         Brunnen5       Brunnen4Brunnen7


On 14.12.2018 a big tent was given to a nomad family beeing in need



September 2019: with donations by the travellers of our Swiss partner the team of Akabar - Sahara treks is building wells again:

pp Brunnen3pp Brunnen5pp Brunnen6pp Brunnen8Perpedes Brunnen10


Trekking guests who traveled  in their motorhome from Germany to Zagora received two older, well-preserved sewing machines for the nomadic association Akabar, Tafraout/Sahara and handed them over Hafid Benyachou in Zagora. The joy of the nomad women was great. Many thanks for your help.

We continue to search for cheap sewing machines so that nomad women also from the new school in eastern Tafraout can learn how to sew.



Hafid Benyachou and the nomads of the Association Akabar have actively supported the nomads of the Bouhjab area in establishing an independent nomad association, which, like the Association Akabar, regulates its own affairs and contacts authorities and other bodies outside the desert: Association of Nomads Cavaran for Development in the Desert. People of Bouhjab-Elbayd