Imider, Morocco - For the past four years, residents of this remote Moroccan village in the Sahara Desert have been holding what is believed to be the country's longest-ever protest.
Calling themselves "Movement on the Road '96" - a nod to a similar protest held in 1996 - residents of Imider have set up an encampment of adobe huts on top of Mount Alebban next to a key water valve for a nearby mine. Since 2011, those in the protest camp, mainly subsistence farmers and migrant workers, have kept shut the valve to one of the mine's biggest wells, to stop the use of the village's groundwater.
The Imider Mine is operated by La Societe Metallurgique d'Imider (SMI) and owned by Societe Nationale d'Investissement (SNI), a private holding company owned by the Moroccan royal family. It is Africa's most productive silver mine, helping to make Morocco the 15th-biggest silver producer in the world.
But Imider residents - who are mostly ethnic Amazighs, more than half of whom live on less than a dollar a day - say the mine has drained their water reserves for decades and devastated their agricultural community. According to a September 2015 report by the Global Amazigh Congress, an international organisation focused on the rights of Amazigh minorities, the mine uses 1,555 cubic metres of water per day, which is 12 times the village's daily consumption.
- © Zoe Vincenti 2015
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