Oasis

tradition challenging

climate change

Young men swimming in an open air storage tank built to collect water from the Ain Al-Faras spring in the historic city of Ghadames. Legend has it that the discovery of such a water source in the Lybian desert has given rise to this ancient settlement, inhabited since prehistoric times. It is said that it sprung when a mare kicked the ground with her hoof. From the “Horse Fountain”, water has always been managed very carefully here in town: it is distributed to the buildings of the medina quarter by a system of sluices, and still today it irrigates part of the 200 hectares of date palm groves in the Oasis.

Oasis

where man

makes the desert bloom

Aerial view of a ghout, which reveals the ‘secret’ of the Oasis effect, when the aquifer is close to the surface. The planting of a small date palm grove was made by the skilful creation of artificial dunes. This has created an ecosystem which makes human life possible.

Oasis

the heritage

we don’t want to lose

Ruins of the medieval citadel of Shali, founded in the 13th Century, to protect its inhabitants from marauders. In 1926 its fortifications and houses – built from blocks of kharshef, a hardened mixture of clay and salt – suffered severe damage from violent rainfall, a deluge which lasted three days and marked the beginning of Shali’s decline. Unfortunately, although a small number of Shali’s houses have been restored in recent years, the modern town of Siwa has developed all around the ancient citadel, with buildings mostly erected using improper materials – such as concrete, or chalk bricks – which are compromising the aesthetic quality of the site.

About us

LabOasis Foundation is non-profit, apolitical, non-denominational
and independent organisation

We promote actions for the benefit of the communities living
in the Saharan and Arabian Oases,
thousand-year-old eco-systems of outstanding beauty

We are committed to averting the loss of this cultural
and environmental heritage,
threatened by global warming and destructive human activities

Why the Oasis?

Because it is a historic and legendary site, entirely man-made,
that tells about the virtuous interaction
between desert peoples and their environment

Because it is a model for all human settlements
an open-air laboratory where we can discover
ingenuous techniques for the self-regeneration of natural systems
that it is necessary to retrieve, update and share

Because the fertile niche is a bulwark of civilisation
held in place by cohesive and open communities
which enabled the exchanges between different peoples
and the encounters between cultures and religions

Oasis in danger

Oases today are at risk of disappearing, depopulated by emigration
becoming more and more uninhabitable
due to phenomena such as diminishing water resources,
soil salinization and degradation along with silting

The peoples of the desert, under the combined pressure
of climate change and inadequate modernization
of techniques and lifestyles,
are in danger, as they are about to lose their habitat

What we do

We launch communication campaigns to raise awareness
about the uniqueness
of these human settlements in extreme climatic conditions
whose origins date to prehistoric times

We develop scientific research and on-field projects,
combining traditional knowledge with innovation

We foster activities that enable new processes of adaptation
that can reassert
the memorable resilience of the Oases’ civilisation