Magazine article New Internationalist

Water Protectors Promote Democracy

Magazine article New Internationalist

Water Protectors Promote Democracy

Article excerpt

In the harsh terrain of caked dirt and sharp rocks just west of the Moroccan Sahara, nomads endlessly move their herds of goats and camels just to stay alive. But the ancestors of the Imidir Valley imagined a different future when, 700 years ago, they built a vast system of subterranean aqueducts to bring water, and life, to the desert.

Today, the valley floor is a meticulously managed flood of verdant green: ancient olive orchards, vegetable plots, fruit, nut and date trees. Where the water reaches, there is life. Traditional indigenous social systems share the water, allotting an equal amount of time for each family to redirect the canals and flood their fields for a few precious hours. This fragile existence is not taken for granted; rather, it is actively protected.

Across the valley is one of Africa's largest silver mines, owned by Managem Group. Its tailing ponds introduce new toxins into this fertile valley as it extracts its wealth. The community of Imidir sees none of the silver.

When the mine built a second unpermitted water pipeline to increase capacity, the water table of the valley dropped so severely that wells ran dry and 40 families were forced to leave their ancestral homeland. …

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