A People and its Histoty
The Sahara extends over an area 8 million km2 (almost 15 times the size of France and only slightly smaller than the entire USA), stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea.
It covers almost a third of the African continent. The Sahara, which derives its name from the Arabic word for “desert”, is made up of large sand dunes (ergs), vast stone plateaus (hamadas), gravel plains (regs) and deeply dissected mountain ranges that can reach heights of up to 3,000 meters.
However, these fascinatingly steep reliefs are also home to a chain of oases.
More Wells Mean Places to Rest
Desert peoples have had to learn to use the sand to their advantage in order to survive.
So wells have become resting places, obligatory stopover points, refuges, oases, and places to meet up and trade. An entire culture has been built around these water sources.
Nomads such the Tuaregs – descendants of the Berber natives – and the Fula often meet there. They set up camp for a few days or for a season, but always at a safe distance so that everyone has access to water.
Caravans that pass through can allow their animals to rest and drink before setting off again.
These wells are also essential for settlers. They use their animals to power the water pump. Trained camels are used to pull the ropes on the well’s pulley in a back-and-forth motion to draw water.
An irrigation system makes it possible to plant cereals, onions, leaf vegetables, spices, palm trees, and oranges nearby. The pump can be continuously refilled.
It generally contains around 60 liters. And once emptied into the troughs, life can emerge.
Each new well constitutes a tremendous source of improvement in the lives of both settled and nomadic populations.
By October 2020, 297 wells had been completed.
Ever wondered what everyday life is like for nomads? Click on the video above to watch Nomad's Land.