Mohammed Akki left his home in Morocco’s Middle Atlas mountains to seek regular work and a better life in the town of Azrou, but he still lives on the margins in a country enjoying an investment boom.
Every morning, Akki walks miles into Azrou, where he may or may not find work as a day laborer.
His ramshackle house down a muddy lane has no electricity or running water and his school-age daughter has to study by candlelight.
He is part of a large class of impoverished Moroccans left behind by the rapid development that has transformed much of the northwestern coastline with multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects.
“It is inconceivable. How can we live in a city but we still need candles? We hear slogans but there is no transparency. We never get any help,” said Akki, standing in his dark kitchen, where a storm lamp lit a few pans hanging from nails on the wall.
Morocco’s rampant inequality is stirring some unease in the country’s political class, particularly after protests in the northern Rif mountain region in 2017-18 and the mass demonstrations in neighboring Algeria in 2019.
Signs of public frustration include political chanting by football fans in Casablanca and a popular rap song that decried inequality and castigated Morocco’s rulers.