Tamalout Dam, Morocco

In 2009, Morocco developed a new water strategy aimed to support the water needs for its economic development plan until 2030. The dam is part of this plan but will eventually flood the surrounding villages


Morocco developed a new water strategy aimed to support the water needs for its economic development plan until 2030. This integrated policy combining water conservation and resource mobilization was officially aimed at achieving the aforementioned goal while respecting the environment and the rights of future generations. As part of this plan, 50 dams with the combined capacity of 1.7 billion m3 were projected to be built, as well as 1000 small and midsize dams by 2030. [1] Funded by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development [2], the Tamalout dam construction started in 2008. It is situated on the Ansegmir Tributary of the Moulouya river, close to the Amazigh village of Tizinzou. Once constructed, this dam will serve for irrigation, drinking water and flooding control. According to officials, the Tamalout dam will help stimulating the local economy of the Ansegmir Valley through the irrigation of more than 5000 hectares of fruit trees and the provision of potable water for nearby agglomerations with its 50 million m3 capacity. Once filled, the reservoir will inundate the village of Tizinzou. [3] As of 2015, the construction process was 34 months late, mainly due to the ongoing protest by the inhabitants of the nearby Amazigh village of Tizinzou. Since 2009, the destruction of half the houses, power lines and the village school with the protection of Auxiliary Arms Forces was seen as a way to force the villagers out. In addition, the villagers claim that the indemnisation proposed for the expropriations is not enough. Many villagers were coerced into accepting the indemnisation packages and suffered the consequences. Most of them lost their houses and their livelihoods which depended on agriculture in the expropriated land. This clear abuse of cultural, social and economic rights has led to around 15 protests since 2009 as well as the support of Moroccan Association for Human Rights (mainly acting as an observer to deter political rights violations),  in the nearby town of Midelt. Villagers who were able to take their cases to court succeeded in getting better compensation which was raised from 10 to 50 Dirhams by m2. In addition, villagers also have collectively owned land used for pasture which is worth 2 million Dirhams according to activists. No compensation for these lands was mentioned by authorities. Inhabitants are most scared of seeing their tribe dispersed and losing its economic independence. [4] Moreover, and according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the dam has negative impacts on the river ecosystems of the Moulouya basin. The report claims that the release of sediments will cause the destruction of natural habitats [5]. The Imazighen have very little means of enforcing the rights they have over their lands, with the government frequently taking decisions without involving them in favor of the country’s political and economic interests. The French colonial decree from 1912 stating that the government is allowed to seize communal land from indigenous people still exist, while limited collective ownership rights under government guidance is authorized since 1919. Protection of land rights and the ability of the Amazigh people to develop economically and culturally are directly linked which can explain the continuous loss of their language and relative poverty. [6]

Basic Data
NameTamalout Dam, Morocco
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific CommoditiesWater
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Project consists of the construction of a roller compacted concrete-weight dam on the Oued Ansegmir river. It will be about 320 meters long and 7 meters wide with a height of 60 meters. The storage capacity will be of around 50 million m3.

The objectives of the project are to contribute to the provision of irrigation water for an area of about 5000 hectares on the banks of Oued Ansegmir river at Midelt Town through the construction of a Dam on the river to regulate about 38 million m3 of water. In addition to securing about 1.3 million m3 of potable water to nearby villages. The Project will also contribute to the prevention of water floods in the downstream areas.
Project Area (in hectares)0.224
Level of Investment (in USD)103,000,000.00
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population320-800
Start Date01/01/2009
Company Names or State EnterprisesEntreprise Marocaine de Travaux (EMT) from Morocco - Contractor
Relevant government actorsMoroccan Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water and the Environment
International and Financial InstitutionsKuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) from Kuwait
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersInternational Union for the Conservation of Nature

Agency for the Moulouya River Basin

Moroccan Association for Human Rights Association
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Land dispossession
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Development of AlternativesProtesters are asking for a different type of compensation. They are requesting 4000 Dirhams a year, as it is the worth of apples from one tree per year. This amount should be given to them over 5 years which is the time it will take for the first harvest after moving to a new land and planting new trees.

In addition to fair compensation, they are also asking for a plot of land where they can rebuild another village in order to prevent their tribe from being dispersed.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Despite the improvement of the compensation, the inhabitants are still not satisfied with the amount. They argue that it is too little for them to start over and to sustain their families especially when it comes to agriculture. In addition, some families were forcefully evicted as parts of the village were destroyed to coerce them into accepting the first compensation.

Moreover, one of the main demands, which is a new plot of land to build a new village and prevent their tribe being dispersed was not met by officials.

Finally, the dam is still under construction and will eventually flood the remaining of the village.
Sources and Materials

Short Documentary about the Expropriations
[click to view]

[1] - Water sector in Morocco: situation and perspectives
[click to view]

[5] - Diagnostic de la biodiversité aquatique dans le Bassin Hydraulique de la Moulouya
[click to view]

[6] - Country Report of the Research Project by the International Labour Organization and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the constitutional and legislative protection of the rights of indigenous peoples: Morocco
[click to view]


[2] - Kuwait Fund
[click to view]

[3] - Al-Jazeera Article
[click to view]

[4] - Tel Quel Article
[click to view]

Other Documents

Tamalout Dam Protests Residents of the village of Tizinzou have organised several demonstrations in protest of the dam's construction [Nadir Bouhmouch/Al Jazeera]
[click to view]

Destroyed Homes Rubble near the Ansegmir valley [Nadir Bouhmouch/Al Jazeera]
[click to view]

Tamalout Dam The dam is being constructed near Ansegmir valley [Nadir Bouhmouch/Al Jazeera]
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorChristophe Maroun
Last update08/03/2017