Reinventing the wheel: adapting a traditional circular irrigation system to ‘modern’ agricultural extensions in Algeria’s Sahara

One of the most elaborate community initiatives for the management of groundwater consists of managed aquifer recharge and use. In the oases in the M’zab valley in the Algerian Sahara, the collective action that upholds these initiatives has been challenged in past decades by the development of intensive groundwater use with individual pumps in new agricultural areas. However, faced with water shortage and inspired by the more circular irrigation practices in oases, farmers are increasingly creating local use loops in these extension areas by installing recharge devices and using water more carefully. This
study analyzes the functioning of the circular managed aquifer recharge and use system in Beni Isguen oasis, and how farmers have reinvented it in agricultural extensions, creatively combining it with modern technologies to engage in market-oriented agriculture. Reinventing circular practices in new agricultural extensions can contribute to more environmentally sustainable forms of agriculture.