The ‘Nomads’ of North Africa or Morocco are communities of ethnic, indigenous people whose way of life remains traditional and ancient. Their nomadic or for some tribes, semi-nomadic life is austere and simple – moving and travelling from one location to the next, in constant search of pasture, water and food for themselves and their livestock (camels, goats, donkeys, sheep).
Where they settle for short periods of time is largely determined by the grazing areas for the animals or sources of water and food. Their makeshift dwellings are either in tents or caves. The environment of their temporary location is most often than not, a dry and rocky or sandy desert landscape, or the mountains, exposed to the harsh elements and severe weather conditions.
Historically, the Nomads have survived and thrived in this way of life for thousands of years. The present economic conditions and the growth of tourism in Morocco however are making a significant impact on this lifestyle as they have become more visible and a cultural interest for tourists. This ‘exposure’ sparked an awareness of the unique challenges that this way of life has on the family, especially the children. Few Nomads left their lifestyle and settled in villages taking up farming and providing the rare opportunity for the children to go to primary school. For most, education of a new generation of children is not a priority, rather the provision of food and shelter for the family and the ever important animals they herd. The children are early on involved in the daily caretaking of the livestock and given their remote locations, educational facilities are non- existent or simply beyond access.
Despite the hardship of raising families and livestock in extreme and often harsh environment, the Nomads are a kind, gentle and hospitable people. The simplicity of their lives, albeit difficult, is in harmony with the natural landscape and its scarce bounty.