Ouarzazate - Morocco

Ait ben Haddou: when Man, Nature and Culture are joined together

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Thirty km away from Ouarzazate, the majestic ksar of Ait Ben Haddou is located in a valley which was a traditional crossing point for caravans, linking Marrakech to the south of Sahara. The site and its immediate surrounding area are a remarkable heritage which is inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage List since 1987. Founded in 1989 by a group of local volunteers, Ait Aissa association for culture and development works since its inception for the safeguarding of the village.

From reflection to action

Since its creation, the association undertook a deep study in order to come up with a road map to preserve this natural and cultural heritage. Besides of the walls of the Ksar, the association also strived to preserve the lifestyle related to the site. “An integrated, sustainable, balanced and tridimensional project bringing together a living place and a site offering economic resources to its inhabitants,” this was the vision of the association.

An economically viable living place

An ancestral Ksar has an inestimable worth. But, a well preserved Ksar where inhabitants are still living according to the nature-respecting traditional methods is even more worthy. That is why the inhabitants were encouraged to re-invest their dwellings. And so the association planned many adjustments in the village. Also, the daily life in the Ksar was positively altered by the introduction of several projects benefitting the population and youth, including income generating activities.

A space of History and Culture

Ait Aissa association has also created a guided visit tour in the village. To promote ecotourism and cultural tourism, many themed houses are included in the program: theatre, oral heritage, youth lodge, handicraft, every stop is a space dedicated to one of the themes. Tourists can find cultural spaces informing on the value of these place and the historical and cultural heritage related to it. The initiative of Ait Aissa association is fascinating by its global and integrated approach which makes of Man, Nature and Culture three inseparable facets of equivalent importance; a replicable initiative which pilot scheme is already a model in this area.





Secrétaire général








Abandoned for a long time and replaced by concrete and cement, considered more modern, rammed earth, formerly considered archaic, is back now. The reasons? More environmentally friendly, more economical, more natural and less material-consuming, the clay is perfectly adapted to environmental standards. The earth, local, abundant raw-material of rammed earth requires little energy in the process of clay making.

Among the other advantages is the density of rammed earth walls (about 40 cm) confers precious qualities of thermal and acoustic regulation to its constructions. In both summer and winter, reversible air conditioning is natural. This is invariably felt on the ambient temperature of interiors but also on the sum in the invoice.
But then what about the cost of a house made of rammed earth? Contrary to popular belief, the cost price of rammed earth construction is less expensive than the one built using so-called modern materials. In the case of the use of compressed earth blocks, the cost is then aligned with that of construction with concrete. However, about 50% of the tariff goes directly to the workforce, which represents socially a significant advantage.


Source : comptoir-maroc.com




The Support Program for Moroccan ksour’s and kasbah’s sustainable development aims to improve the living conditions of the populations living in these sites. It supports and complements the ksour and kasbah rehabilitation actions carried out by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Policy, the new legislation on the safeguarding of cultural heritage and the earth-based construction, and to the strategies and actions undertaken by the Ministries of Interior, Culture, Tourism, Town Planning and Land Management, Handicraft, Environment and Moroccans Living Abroad.


Source : PNUD

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