Niama District, NE Morocco

Community Water Supply, 4 Villages, 3500 People

This Bergey wind-electric water pumping system is installed in Ain Tolba, part of the Niama Commune, near Oujda in Northeast Morocco. It is a 10 kW Bergey Excel wind turbine that drives a 12-stage electric pump located in the partially buried storage tank just behind the two girls. Note that the girls are carrying water jugs and more jugs are borne by their donkey, whose backside is just visible to their left.

This area of Morocco is semi-arid and water supplies are scarce. Visitors are struck by the immense effort put into carrying water from the few "water points". Children in particular are tasked with fetching water. The availability of water, in fact, largely determines the number of people living in the area. When water is scarce, people move away.

Ain Tolba has a natural spring that flows under the building on the left side of the picture. The local government constructed a sump and installed a diesel pumping system many years ago. The diesel pump is in the building. Water is pumped from the sump to a 200 cubic meter storage tank about one-half kilometer away. This tank serves the community of Ain Tolba. Water is also diverted by gravity to two additional tanks more than five kilometers away in different directions. At one of these water points, Dar el Hamra, another diesel pumps water uphill about 4.5 kms to the village of Rmilat. Therefore, the one pump at Ain Tolba supplies water for four communities over an area of 120 square kilometers.

While the government installed the diesel pumps free-of-charge to the local people, the users are responsible for operating and maintenance costs. At Ain Tolba the villagers could only afford to operate the diesel pump 2-4 hours per day. This meant that over 80% of the available clean water from the spring was lost (it ran into a polluted stream). At Dar el Hamra, the diesel had been broken for several years so the villagers at Rmilat had to carry water 4.5 kms. [The Ain Tolba pump building contained five broken diesels and one working one when we arrived.]

In 1989 the U.S. Agency for International Development (US-AID), working through the Moroccan renewable energy agency (CDER, Marrakech) and the local water department (DPA, Oujda), funded the installation of 10 kW Bergey wind-electric pumping systems at Ain Tolba and Dar el Hamra. Due to the variability of the wind a new 50 m3 storage tank (the partially buried tank in the picture) was installed at the Ain Tolba spring site. This allows spring water to be captured continuously and pumped out to the larger tank and distribution system when the wind is blowing. At Dar el Hamra, the wind system supplied the village of Rmilat with water for the first time in years.

The systems have performed well and the area now has three times as much water as it did using the diesel. The local population is up and Commune members are actually selling water to neighboring towns. Additional smaller wind systems, both for pumping and electricity, have been installed in the area.