Delphine WARIN

This post is also available in: French

It’s called “the coal route”…
Direction Assads, 14 km south of Taroudant (Morocco)
The first time I took this road through a desolate landscape, I was dazzled by this immense plain from which smoke emanated as far as the eye could see…
Unreal and disturbing landscape.
When I stopped, Habib, the man who would become the main character in my story, came to meet me and proudly told me about his job.
It was his appearance that first struck me:
His face, his hands and arms, black with soot and dust, his lack of teeth, his blind eye, his ragged clothes, his mismatched socks, his sandals with holes in them, smoking cigarette after cigarette, and his cough, deep and regular.
It was a trip back in time, and I spontaneously thought of this photo of Eugene Smith’s 3 Welsh miners in the 1950s …
That was the trigger, and I decided to bear witness to the condition of these men’s lives.
This harsh, precarious, dangerous, marginal life.
This profession which exists only in this remote region of Morocco and which will soon disappear…

The Taroudant region is rich in citrus, lemon and orange trees, the wood best suited for charcoal. Trucks lay down huge trunks that the charcoal makers will then have to cut and re-cut.
The construction of the grindstone (mound covered with earth in which the wood is burned) is done in several stages:
Large trunks on the ground, then medium trunks, smaller ones covered with banana leaves, and finally earth. A small fire is lit inside, and it will take two to three weeks for the wood to turn into charcoal without burning completely.
This is why the charcoal makers have to live on the spot, being each responsible for several millstones, they have to watch over them day and night.

These men live miserably, in fortunate tents made of plastic and sheet metal. Away from their families sometimes for 6 months, being exposed to the burning of coal, they often have serious health problems. Their daily life is full of dirt, dust, lack of hygiene, isolation and misery. Some do this job from father to son, especially the older ones, while others, left to their own devices, accept to work for a derisory salary.

A 10-kg bag of coal is sold for 6 dirhams (0.60 cents euros).


Country : Morocco

Number of photos : 30