Gender issues

The “Anazur Caravane” Uncovers the Difficult Reality of Moroccan Nomad Women

Chaima Lahsini

Rabat - “If my child falls sick, he will die. We have no place in the government’s hospitals.” In the desert lands of Southeast Morocco, the lives of the nomad tribes are plagued by death, hunger and isolation.

In the often forgotten desert dunes of Southeast Morocco, the “Anazur Caravane,” a convoy, initiated by "Young Women for Democracy" in partnership with the "Houss" Association of Art and the "Association of Tinghir for Development and Democracy," recently relayed to the press the poignant testimonies of the women of the Tinghir nomad tribes. The Anaruz Caravane said in a statement that the aim of their convoy was to highlight the life of nomadic tribes, their hardships as citizens who should fundamentally enjoy of their basic rights.

From May 18 to 21, the convoy followed the path of the nomadic tribes, learning about their living conditions, customs and traditions, and also a culture that is quite different from ours. In this regard, the convoy explains how some tribes are clinging to their mobile identities, rejecting the principle of stability as they consider nomadism and migration part of their customs and traditions.

The first four stages of the convoy’s journey began with a four hours mountain climbing on foot to reach the Ait-Oumu tribe temporarily stationed in Mount Akrot, followed by meeting the families of the Ait Ayer tribe near the wells. The third phase was based on the exchange of information and data with field actors in the region. The convoy concluded their journey with participating in "Idya’s” memorial, the little girl victim of marginalization and discrimination related to the lack of access to basic services - something which many remote areas suffer from.

The communique published by  the convoy reports the finds of this field research and details the daily suffering of women in this barren region especially in relation to children, poverty, and the harsh climate where water and food are scarce.

The Anazur Caravane, which means “hope” in Tamazight, followed the daily lives of nomad women in Tinghir. Starting their days at the crack of dawn, when they leaving their dark caves to wander around the nearby mountainsides looking for food and water, an on foot journey that takes hours at the time.

The testimonies of the women are shocking. Lacking access to modern medicine, a nomadic woman explains: “We give birth to our children in our tents” adding that “If my child falls ill, he will die and I will have another one.” The nomad women rarely step out into the lands surrounding their tribes. Reclused in their tents, some may never see a doctor, a nurse, or any kind of outsider. It is the men who travel to nearby villages and cities to shop for their daily necessities.

These personal stories put the nightmarish reality in simple words. Yet, these words speak volumes about the grief, loneliness and marginalization experienced by nomadic women and their families. “We barely see any other human being except in the election season.”

Despite these daily struggles, the small communities who live a nomadic lifestyle are proud of their identity. In a statement shared with Morocco World News, the women explained: “Nomadizing is an identity we refuse to give up on, but we want better life conditions.” With barely any access to basic human necessities, sanitation, health, education; the nomad tribes are seemingly stuck in time.

Although these nomads are Moroccan subjects, they often lack the documentation to prove their Moroccan nationality. The lack of legal documentation is one of the top obstacles of the nomad tribes. With no civil status, access to a documented civil marriage contract, education, health or employment is impossible

Through a preliminary report, the convoy hopes to be spark a public debate on the lives of nomadic women and tribes. The convoy is also calling for field monitoring and organized meetings that will enable the gathering of data to better understand the situation and absorb its specificities. In addition, they hope to raise awareness among nomadic women of the importance of identification documents, marriage contracts, and the various legal and administrative procedures associated with them.

The demands of the nomad tribes are very simple ones: water and education. “We just want licenses to dig wells, and mobile schools for our children,” reports the convoy on some of the nomad women, who dream of education their children. “If our kids are educated, they will become doctors and teachers and we won’t need any outsider’s help.”

Beyond their initial communique, the  “Anazur Caravane” organizers are preparing a report to open a public debate on this matter and to develop a plan of action to find solutions for these marginalized communities. At the same time, the convoy emphasizes the importance of maintaining the independence of the nomadic peoples and rejects guardianship as the tribes ultimately have the right to choose their destiny.

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