Still no word about who, why, how, and what really happened in the Moulouya basin in Morocco. Moroccan environmentalists created their little Facebook corner to let off steam about the authorities’ lack of action, and to unite their voices for a cleaner, safer and more sustainable environment. Their main concern is: how to prevent such disaster from ever taking place again? And mostly to find out who is responsible for this ecological disaster? Some of them have done an excellent job, going all the way to the area to shoot footage documenting the scale of the catastrophe and interviewing farmers who recounted the disastrous impact on their crop and livestock.
After a few youtube videos surfaced, 2M and TVM channels finally undertook to cover the catastrophe in an uneventful manner. It took the two Moroccan channels a week to wake up to what had happened. Still, one channel merely eluded to the disaster while covering a conference on environmental protection, and the other one announced that one hundred kilos of fish (!!!) were found laying on the banks of the Moulouya basin in an apparent collective suicide… I mean lack of oxygen. Nothing worth the drama…
Meanwhile, those who hold the environment close to their hearts still insist that those responsible must be identified, and an impact assessment must be undertaken. The SOS Moulouya Facebook Group has over 2000 members. Many of whom post content mostly pointing to SUCRAFOR, although some also provided theories and research documents pointing to other possibilities. “It could be the dam drainage,” one explains. A full report on the impact of dam drainage was posted on the page. Others argue that the truth is simply “impossible to find out. This incident doesn’t happen every year. It happened once in the 1980’s, and another time in the 90s…” “clearly, we can’t attribute it to an industrial activity that takes place every year without any problems”…”this could possibly be a natural disaster”…most probably, a collective suicide of our fish…and turtles. Are industry lobbyists at work here? Mother nature is depressed…2M just confirmed: lack of oxygen due to organic elements, not toxins involved.
But enough sarcasm…let’s assume that the truth is difficult to uncover. Why is that ostrich burying its head in the sand? Why is it that the only easy decision is to not take any decision? Why not engage the victims of this disaster? Is it the fear that engaging with stakeholders will inevitably bring conflict? “Don’t throw rocks at the fool!” warns the Moroccan saying. Yet, the real fool is the one who fails to face reality.
The ecological disaster is not all that is going wrong in the Moulouya story. The worst part of the story is not just the impact on the people living around and from the basin. It is mostly the collective indifference to their situation.
Sadly, we have dealt with the problem from a limited investigative interest, “who did it?”. We focus on the perpetrator, almost viciously, because someone’s gotta pay! In the meantime, we forget that some people are already paying. Only a few feel the responsibility to reach out to their fellow human beings to say: How can I help you through these hard times? How can I make this less of a burden in this month of Ramadan? This is our collective missed opportunity.
The Moulouya incident was an opportunity for mending, and a chance for our humanism and values to shine. This is the time for our constitutional commitments to come alive. This is the opportunity for government officials to work on their tarnished public image, to come together to do something, to do good. It’s the time for the government to prove its social commitment and responsibility, and to use 2M and TVM to mediatize the good deed. It’s time for the Feb20 to make a collective gesture towards its fellow Moroccans, and to use this opportunity to reconnect, rebrand, and revive that spirit of change, real change that starts with everyone, including the Feb20…
It’s time for everyone to undertake some kind of collective action. One that breaks with the cycle of indifference and the feeling of the two Morocco’s, the us versus them attitude dividing our nation. Our collective values would dictate such minimum from all of us.