Round Earth Media

“It can only get worse.”

July 7, 2017

M’HAMID EL GHIZLANE, Morocco — For generations, they were known as “rain nomads,” herders who moved constantly along the western rim of the Sahara Desert in search of a patch of green where their goats and camels could graze.

Then the rain, never plentiful, became even more sporadic. Temperatures got hotter. A dam choked another source of precious water, the Draa River. Not even the camels could endure.

Families whose lives revolved around the seasons and the needs of their livestock, gave up and became villagers. Over the years, many settled in this oasis town (photo right) whose one main street merges into the edge of the desert.

 About two-thirds of Morocco’s roughly 25,000 remaining nomads live in this region about 200 miles south of Casablanca, according to a 2014 government survey.  The number of nomads had fallen by 63% from the previous decade, the same survey by the Moroccan High Commission for Planning found. While there are a number of reasons for the decline, climate change is among the main causes. 

Ali Daimin is a shopkeeper in M’Hamid, the village where many of the former nomads have settled.  “Based on what’s happened,” Daimin told our journalists,  “it can only get worse and worse.”

Click on the photo above to read the entire story, published this week in USA Today and reported by Perry DeMarche with photos by Mary Mathis.  We are proud to have partners like USA Today, one of the country’s top three circulation newspapers (along with the Wall Street Journal and New York Times).  USA Today reaches a uniquely broad demographic with important stories like this one.

Our reporter, Perry DeMarche (photo left), is a student at the University of Rochester, majoring in Anthropology with minors in French and Brain and Cognitive Sciences.  Perry was a student on our study abroad program, a partnership with SIT, and this was her first foray into journalism.

Perry wrote yesterday to say that she was “pretty nervous coming into this program. However, I absolutely loved [it] and especially loved doing this article. Thank you for so much everything.”

It is our pleasure and great privilege to work students like Perry DeMarche and Mary Mathis.  Your support is what it possible.

Warmest regards,
Mary

Round Earth media is a non-profit supporting young journalists around the world, enabling them to find and tell stories the world needs to hear.

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