Fatimas´ escape

They rely on mussels in order to survive

Roland Bednarz & Sara Hteit

They are courageous, they are independent, and they are a team. Five women from the nest of 100 people in Douira, some 50 kilometres South of Agadir, collect as many mussels as they can at the sea. They sell them, live from them. Fatima leads the group: “I am responsible for them.” She has a great deal of self-confidence. Her father taught her how to fish and cook mussels. Yet, Fatima has been heavy-hearted for some time – and so have the other women, too.

They were told that a plant will soon be erected near to their village. Only 500 metres away. It is to desalinate the water and will be gigantic. The women have no choice but to believe it – they never learnt to read and write. Experts from a national authority have already been advertising the plant for a long time. Yet there is still no sign of it. There was a digger on the large ash field directly on the coast, albeit it was gone again the next day – without any digging. Four concrete poles, each at least ten metres long, lie indiscriminately on the red-brown sand. This is where the desalination plant is to stand one day, and will produce enough water to supply a few thousand Moroccans. It will force sea water through a membrane and clean water will come out at the other end. Eighty per cent of farmers in the Souss Messa region should then be able to afford water for their fields because the state will pay for it. It all needs to be subject to accurate planning, however. A local recounts how the king will come to open the plant. He is visibly proud. For the time being, Fatima and the women continue to collect mussels – their feelings fluctuate between fear and hope.

Melody Rehayl (60): “I have been collecting blue mussels since I was five years old.”

Rekia Houliat, (44): “I would love to have a real job”.

Fatima Billa (56), 3 children: “I would like to work.”

Rakia Besh (60): “I wish my children could go to school.”

Naaime Rohayel (35): “I would like to become an Arabic teacher.


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