Ksar Tafilelt, the Algerian city everyone is talking about

An Algerian city is talking about it in the world. And it’s not even a wilaya capital. Not even a city. A city without historical monuments or famous natural sites.

Nor is it an industrial center. Ksar Tafilelt is a district in Bounoura, a municipality in Ghardaïa and one of the seven cities in M’zab. We are talking about it because this newly created district is considered the first eco-citizen town in Algeria.

20 years ago, Ksar Tafilelt did not yet exist. In 2014, it received the Arab League’s Environmental Award and in 2016 the Sustainable City Award at COP-22 in Marrakech.

The secret? From the beginning, the district was designed to be an ecological city, built with local materials and with respect for the environment. The Mozambican culture with mutual help and organization did the rest.

But the idea belongs to a man, Ahmed Nouh, who created the Amidoul Foundation in 1997. Its goal was to provide an ecological and local response to the housing crisis that spared no city in Algeria.

The fund purchased from the state a plot of about twenty acres located on a plateau overlooking the M’zab Valley. Work began in 2000. Then it was a success with a thousand houses and 6,000 inhabitants from 2013. Since then, the expansion of the city and its demographics have stabilized.

Its designers had to face several challenges. How to create a city in a rocky area in the middle of the desert, at a lower price to be available for small budgets, and above all a city that can better withstand difficult climatic conditions and at the same time consumes as little energy as possible. The Mozabits know something about it, those who have tamed the desert for centuries.


For the construction of Ksar Tafilelt’s houses, the ideas of former times were very useful. The materials are extracted on site. Not concrete, but stone, plaster and lime.

With a stone, several shots: these materials do not cost much, are available nearby and are excellent natural insulators. A temperature of 45 degrees in the shade is quite common in the summer in the region.

Thanks to these materials, it is cooler inside. The architecture is also ingenious. The houses do not exceed one floor and are very close to each other. The streets are narrow.

“You need narrow streets to break the prevailing winds and sandstorms. And when they are narrow, you see that there is a lot of shade. We must not forget that we are in the middle of the Sahara. In the summer it hits,” explains the one who is the cause of all this, Ahmed Nouh, to AJ +, who dedicated a report to the city.

Everything related to long-term ecological projects, even chimeric for many countries, is a tangible reality here in Ksar Tafilelt. Solar-powered public lighting, 50% biologically recycled wastewater and sorted household waste. Cleaning and maintenance are handled alternately by the residents. Each family should perform this task for one week. And it works.

The city’s designers have also incorporated the concept of organic farming. In an ecopark that also houses a zoo, the animals are partially fed with household leftovers, and each inhabitant must maintain at least one palm tree, an ornamental tree and another fruit tree.

Seddik Karim, animator at the ecopark, is not proud of it, acknowledging that all of this is first and foremost a legacy of an ancestor. “We have not invented anything, we are just continuing the traditions of our ancestors. We prepare the base together with our children. We are almost certain that tomorrow will be better, ”he predicts optimistically. Among M’zab, everything is truly a matter of transmission.

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