By Larbi Arbaoui
Morocco World News
Taroudant, Morocco, December 18, 2011
Communal land, know in Morocco as Aradi Aljoumou or Aradi Assoulalia is a form of collective property ownership. This land represents a very significant amount of property in Morocco with an area of approximately 12 million hectares that is one third of the area of agriculture, pastor, and forest of the public space, located in 48 provinces.
This territory of such importance is governed by a law that goes back to the colonial period, specifically to the law “Dahir” of April 27th, 1917 of which some of its articles were modified in 1963. However, these amendments did not affect the essence and philosophy of the old law.
Originally, the large territories were owned by certain tribes, Jamaat Soulaliat, and exploited for grazing and agricultural activities in accordance with strict local norms. The law, “Dahir” of 1919 states that no decisions are to be taken in regard to this land without the approval of the ministry in charge. It is neither for sale nor for private ownership, but for the benefit of all the right holders collectively.
Being governed by complicated local norms, this land often becomes the subject of disputes in courts between the adjoining tribes claiming their collective ownership. Disagreement sometimes takes violent forms without arriving at solutions acceptable to all parties. These disputes remain a stumbling block for investment, local development and to poor people seeking to secure housing for their families and relatives.
As a result of the great economic expansion in Morocco during the past decade, adding to the growing need for the private use and personal investments of this collective communal land, serious attempts and willing procedures have been taken to divide fairly the territory among the right holders.
Some tribes have successfully distributed their property without having confronted any obstacles. Others are still struggling to come up with ways to satisfy all parties in disagreement. Needless to say that the procedures in settling such a complicated issue are not that simple for several reasons.
Among the problems raised when people in charge try to draft a list of right holders among the aboriginal inhabitants of the tribe in point are: first, they find it challenging to determine right holders as a result of inter-tribal marriages. Second, some people really have the right to benefit from this legacy but as they have been away from their original tribes for a long time, voices are raised calling to exclude them from maintaining a share in this communal land.
Third, in some tribes women are said to be of less ability, and thus are treated as inferiors to men when distributing the land, therefore, they were given only halftheir rightful share. Finally, the most complicated problem hindering the distribution of the communal land among right holders are disputes over borders between adjoining tribes. Every tribe claims the land to be theirs based on some old charts or evidence they consider to be authentic.
People in charge must bear full responsibility to involve all right holders with equal shares irrespective of their gender, ethnicity and age. For everyone of theses categories contributed somehow in the daily socioeconomic activities of the tribe in question. Women have, as it is clear to everybody who has been even once to the countryside, a vital contribution to the well being of their families. For this reason and for the sake of being democratic they should have equal shares as men.
To ensure that everyone benefits from this collective property, we appeal to the conscience of all interveners to contribute honestly in handling this issue.
Larbi Arbaoui, an English teacher, has been teaching English for more than 5 years. He studied English language and literature in Moulay Ismail University, Faculty of Arts and Human sciences, Meknes. He Attended and participated as a speaker in several Regional colloquium of the Moroccan Association of Teachers of English. He wrote a short play entitled « Aicha, the Talented Student » performed in Dar Athaqafa, Zagora. . He is a Contributor to Morocco World News.
Editing By Benjamin Villanti