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Guicheloudaya land grabbing, Morocco

Tribes in Morocco are facing violent evictions in the face of rapid urban development in the region of Rabat


The communal lands system in Morocco was introduced in 1919 by the French colonial administration. This law reorganized rural territories by dissolving tribal control of the land and making it in control of the Ministry of Interior. Today, this law affects around 15 million hectares of communal land all over Morocco [1]. Power over Guich land (a tribe of military communities with historical ownerships) however, was maintained to the tribes [2]. This applies to the Guicheloudaya tribe, a sub-tribe of the Guich, whose land is located near Rabat. However, the land was fragmented over time with certain plots being sold with the expansion of the urban frontiers of Rabat and Temara [3].This process has accelerated starting 2004 with the government’s land privatization policy which led to the loss of the tribe's collectively owned land [4]. This is due to the fact that these lands are now at the proximity of Hay Ryad, an expanding residential neighborhood. In 2003, the ministry of interior transferred these lands to the Société d’aménagement Ryad (SAR), a public company created in 1983 under the Caisse de dépôt et Gestion (CDG) and whose main role is to develop and market Hay Ryad.   A report by the Supreme Auditing Institution (SAI) of Morocco in 2006 stated that the collective land commercialization was the main source of income for financing the Hay Ryad project adding that the lands were transferred at prices much lower than those of the market (a gap of millions of Dirhams according to the SAI). It also recommended the implementation of a formalized procedure for the distribution of lots of land [5].  Moreover in 2009 and 2014, further reports by the SAI stated that SAR did not follow the recommendations of the institution nor did they communicate any follow-up regarding these recommendations [6]. The agreement between SAR and the tribe provided compensation and relocation of the families that had worked these lands. Despite a large portion accepting the terms, others were marginalized or offered a compensation they considered insufficient to be able to relocate. In fact, some divorced or widowed women were not offered any compensation as they were not considered equal to the male “chiefs” [3]. The deprivation of women from their economic rights has also led to their marginalization. A petition that gathered 123 signatures was started in November 2009 by the “Association Carrefour des Oudayas Pour la Femme et l’Enfant” (ACOFE) after dialogue with the concerned authorities led to nowhere. This petition, aimed at the Directorate of rural affairs from the ministry of interior attempted to make their requests clear [7].   In December 2014, police-assisted bulldozers destroyed what was left of Douar Ouled Dlim of Ghicheloudaya, despite being denounced by associations like Attac Maroc and the “Association Marocaine des Droits Humains” (AMDH). In a statement on their website, Attac Maroc called for an immediate stop to evictions, stressing their support for the Guicheloudaya tribe in their rights for legitimate land ownership and agricultural activity as well as calling on organizations and individuals to mobilize in solidarity the tribe against land grabbing and illegal evictions [10]. And with around 126 still not having received any form of compensation and more annexations planned in the coming years, some families pitched tents on the land since that date to protest the lack of compensation. As a reaction to the continuous protests and peaceful sit-ins, police in riot gear harass the protesters regularly, burning their belongings and tents and arresting villagers and injuring them. On September 1, 2015, a protester immolated himself as authorities tried to take his makeshift home away although conflicting reports state that he got burned amid the action [8].   As of 2016, no concrete relocation solution has been proposed and the sanitary condition of the villagers is worsening. With respiratory diseases developing due to dust and air pollution from the nearby construction sites. Moreover, kids have been taken out of school [8]. BALAK, an organization founded as a creative and research laboratory, working on strengthening capacities of poor and marginalized population, produced a documentary called “Landless Moroccans” showing the plight of the tribe of Guicheloudaya in the Douar Ouled Dlim village. “Telling this story in images is also a way to highlight in a more universal language a reality that many countries share in common and for which a debate is required at the international arena.” [9]

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Guicheloudaya land grabbing, Morocco
State or province:Rabat-Salé-Kénitra
Location of conflict:Rabat
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Urban development conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Founded in 1983 the "Société d'Aménagement Ryad" (SAR) is a real estate subsidiary of the CDG (Caisse de Dépot et Gestion), a financial institution controlled by the king. Its main objective is the development of the Hay Ryad neighborhood of Rabat. The corporation have managed to acquire land across Morocco for low prices. [1]

Project area:400
Level of Investment:N/A
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:160 families
Start of the conflict:01/01/2003
End of the conflict:18/12/2014
Company names or state enterprises:Société d'Aménagement Ryad (SAR) from Morocco - Management and Marketing of the Hay Ryad Project
Relevant government actors:Caisse de Dépôt et de Gestion
International and Finance InstitutionsSupreme Audit Institution (SAI) from Morocco - Audit Company
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:BALAK:
Transparency Maroc:
Attac Maroc:
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Social movements
The Guicheloudaya, a sub-group of an old warrior tribe called the Guich
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Violent targeting of activists
Development of alternatives:Some of the proposals being brought forward include stopping the evictions, paying fair compensations and a concrete relocation solution.
In addition, ejos also propose stopping the ongoing annexation of land in general.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The Guicheloudaya tribe lost their land and livelihoods without proper compensation and relocation. Their protests were met with violence and they were not listened to by the authorities. As of this day, tribes are facing haphazard evictions in the face of rapid urban development in the region of Rabat.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

1919 Communal Lands Law - This law reorganized rural territories by dissolving tribal control of the land and making it in control of the Ministry of Interior.
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[6] - Report by the Supreme Auditing Institution for SAR (2014)
[click to view]

[9] - Landless Morrocans Movie
[click to view]

[4] - Devenir du foncier agricole au Maroc. Un cas d’accaparement des terres - Mohamed MAHDI
[click to view]

[10] - Statement from Attac Maroc
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[2] - Guich L'Oudaya. La prédation foncière dans toute sa splendeur.

Medias 24 - Wednesday 17/12/2014
[click to view]

[3] - Rabat: les derniers des Oudayas expulsés de leurs terres

Telquel - 17/12/2014
[click to view]

[5] - La Cour des comptes tacle la Société d'aménagement Ryad

HuffPost Maroc - 31/03/2016
[click to view]

[8] - Reportage: Les habitants du douar Oueld Dlim résistent

HuffPost Maroc - 03/09/2015
[click to view]

[1] - Moroccan tribes resist eviction by real estate corporations

Middle East Eye - 17/02/2015
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[7] - Petition for support of women from Guicheloudaya
[click to view]

Threat of eviction of the inhabitants of Douar Ouled Dlim (Guicheloudaya)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Christophe Maroun
Last update31/03/2017
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