Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Vivian Ibrahim

Relational Format



This study examines the informal institutions that govern the sāqiya and khettāra irrigation system in southeastern Morocco. I frame those institutions using literature concerning politics of irrigation, governing the commons, and North African political culture. While interviewing farmers in agricultural communities near the Morocco-Algeria border, five themes emerged as key aspects of sāqiya and khettāra governance: the definitions of irrigation communities, the methods of water distribution, the institutions for selecting leaders, and those leaders’ authorities and responsibilities. Institutional arrangements and management practices associated with those themes show that sāqiya and khettāra governance is rooted in the democratic values of consensus and consultation. The presence of indigenous democratic institutions in southeastern Moroccan farming communities contradicts scholars who claim an inherent incompatibility between North African culture and democratic institutions. The study also examines how grassroots irrigation institutions respond to social, economic and environmental challenges.


A thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for completion of the Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.



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