Salle Pedagogique des Zones Arides
In 1998, to increase awareness of local water problems, the children of the Beni Abbes' Salle Pedagogique des Zones Arides in the southwest of the Algerian Sahara decided to carry out a survey on the problems of water and its management within households. The target group consisted of 500 families in Beni Abbes.
The results of the survey showed that there was significant wastage, with wastewater disposed of untreated, increasing wastewater volumes and possible pollution of the groundwater. The volume of wastewater that is not reused can be subtracted directly from the amount of spring water available for irrigation. When they assessed the results of the survey, these young people were led to think about the health risks from an increase in waterborne diseases from polluted water. With their teachers' backing, they decided to set up a small experimental lagoon system.
In December 1999, this was carried out with assistance from the Popular Communal Assembly, which enabled a water engineer to participate. The neighbouring 'fellahin', who saw production in their plots increase, became partners in the project. When faced with problems in cleaning out the first basin, the young people succeeded in raising the awareness of the people whose wastewater was going into it so that they selectively screened out oils. A film Nest of Nurseries was shot telling the story of how the lagoon system was born, in the context of preparations for the international exhibition in Hanover, Germany with the help of ENTV (Algerian Television).
The children passed on the message that saving water is vital. Feedback has been set up between the young people and the families surveyed, which has enhanced the value of the club. The need for co-operation with all social partners has been taken on board. In 2002, the lagoon system was a focus for public awareness raising and information for the people of Beni Abbes and for schools in neighbouring oases.