Sheep and goat herder in the High Atlas mountains of Morocco
From North Africa to Central Asia, the herding of grazing animals in mountainous regions is characterized by "vertical" movement of herds , either sheep or goats, between the low plains in winter and the highlands in summer. Families and shepherds live part of the year under light shelters (tents, wooden huts…), traveling between two complementary areas. This practice is called "transhumance.".
In Morocco there is a striking contrast between the rich areas of the Atlantic coast, characterized by a dynamic agriculture, and the inland mountain range, which remains isolated from economic and social development. In the mountains, the production systems are of traditional type, i.e. rough tools, low yield, and meager monetary returns. This type of economy is augmented by income from migrant workers who emigrate to other countries.
The physical environment is fragile, reacting to heavy population pressure. The collective use of grasslands and forests permits good management of the natural resources, especially where social organization remains alive. Elsewhere, on the contrary, one can see a deterioration of the environment.
Mohamed Ou Bassou's family shows here how it is organized in order to adapt to these constraints.