Figuig water is not for sale

22 January by ATTAC/CADTM Morocco

Figuig population are leading the way in the fight against the privatization of drinking water management sector;
Let’s join this fight against the Transfer Act to Regional Multiservice Companies!

For more than two months, the city of Figuig has been experiencing widespread protests through sit-ins and peaceful actions involving all its inhabitants, accompanied by general strikes to express their rejection of the decision of the Municipal Council to transfer the water supply to the Joint Stock Company (SA), “Al-Sharq Distribution Group”.

It should be noted, as confirmed by the members of the Local Coordination of the Figuig Movement, that the Commune voted unanimously at a first session to reject the transfer decision and retracted it after the intervention of the regional authorities. An extraordinary session was convened on November 1, 2023, during which the decision was voted by a majority of nine votes in favor and eight votes against.

The Figuig region is made up of ancient oases that include a large number of palm trees, with a cluster of “Ksours” (traditional houses) in the middle. Groundwater resources are the centre of life due to their central role in agricultural activities and livestock, as well as in the provision of drinking water to all its inhabitants. Over hundreds of years, the people of the city have accumulated unique knowledge and techniques to distribute water equitably and sustainably to the population, including the “Khatarat” system, as well as a system of water management and conservation in a democratic manner through water councils and “S’raifiyya” with excellent management of different needs of the population, including irrigation, livestock supply and drinking water.

It should be recalled that the process of transferring the drinking water management sector of the city of Figuig to the “Al-Sharq Distribution Group” follows Law 83.21, which provides for the creation of regional multi-service companies in all regions of Morocco and provide them with drinking water, electricity, sanitation and public lighting distribution services. Despite the “reassuring” statements and words of the officials, especially after the outbreak of the protests, that “these transfers do not constitute privatization operations”, the law itself explicitly stipulates in its third article that “a company may open its capital to the private sector, provided that, in any case, the contribution of the State is not less than 10%.”

This cursed law also provides that “these regional companies will be able to benefit free of charge from all the facilities and equipment related to these basic services, namely the distribution of water, electricity and liquid sanitation”, the construction of which required huge public investments and great sacrifices for the workers and users of these sectors, whether within independent agencies or the National Water Board and Electricity (ONEE). According to the same law, the company also still enjoys “the right of access to the service provided for by the legislation in force with regard to water, electricity and liquid sanitation installations and distribution channels, as well as the right to expropriate the property for reasons of public utility and temporary occupation”.

Within the Attac/cadtm Morocco organization:

• We express our total and unconditional solidarity with the struggle of the inhabitants of Figuig to defend their water resources against the processes of transfer and masked privatization and their right to choose a local, democratic and participatory management system, in line with the needs of its population and respecting its knowledge and rich heritage in sustainable management and the management of its shared local resources.

• We declare our absolute rejection and denunciation of this law which legitimizes and generalizes the processes of transfer and privatization whose resounding failure has been demonstrated after more than 25 years of experience in the cities of Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier and Tetouan and its disastrous financial, social and environmental record. The law also reflects the rulers’ trend towards greater privatization and economic liberalism at a time when a group of global cities have returned to local collective management, particularly with regard to water services. At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, and after years of private management, many cities around the world preferred to break with transfer and privatization policies and adopt a model of participatory local management with cooperation and direct representation of users. These cities include, among others, Barcelona in Spain, Nottingham in England and Boulder in the US state of Colorado, Hamburg in Germany, Oslo in Norway and even Paris in France.

• We call on citizens and organizations to learn from the experience of struggle of the inhabitants of Figig by multiplying local coordinations to organize against these transfers and to demand collective, participatory and decentralized management under popular control in order to manage these vital services.

The National Secretariat, January 16, 2024, Rabat


member of the CADTM network, the Association pour la Taxation des Transactions en Aide aux Citoyens au Maroc (ATTAC Morocco) was founded in 2000. ATTAC Maroc has been a member of the international network of the Committee for the Cancellation of Third World Debt (CADTM) since 2006 (which became the Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debts in June 2016). We have 11 local groups in Morocco. ATTAC aims to be a network that helps those involved in social, associative, trade union and more broadly militant activity to take ownership of the challenges of globalisation on issues of social and citizen resistance.

Address : n°140, rue Cadi Bribri Akkari 10000. Rabat. Maroc
Email : attac.cadtm.maroc at
Website Tel 00 212 6 61 17 30 39

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