Sidi Bouzid: living conditions in Aïn Maddour remain very difficult (report)
16/11/2019 19:06, SIDI BOUZID/Tunisia

(TAP/Oussama Bouchiba) - Aïn Maddour, a Douar (village) attached to the delegation of Jelma (governorate of Sidi Bouzid) is home to about fifty families who live in very difficult conditions.

The locality, bordering Mount Mghila, is declared a closed military zone like the neighbouring localities (Douar Slatnia, Douar Khdhaouria, Ain Jaffel and Douar Blahdiya).

In this area, several National Guard and Army officers were martyred in clashes with terrorists holed up in Mount Mghila or following the explosion of landmines placed by these assailants.

To access Douar Ain Maddour, a team of journalists from TAP was escorted by a National Army unit to ensure their safety.

But it took more than an hour and a half by road to reach Ain Maddour from Sidi Bouzid, crossing the town of Lessouda to Regional Road No. 3 before returning to the track, an undeveloped rural track along 25 kilometres, which leads to this locality.

"The Douar is isolated... No paved roads... No job opportunities... We live in very difficult conditions," Taher Jaffeli, a resident, told TAP.

Zina Ghorbel, a former farmhand worker, aged over 70, deplores Ain Maddour's marginalisation and the lack of opportunities for her young people, many of whom are unemployed graduates.

"I always travel to Sfax in search of work because here in Ain Maddour there are no job opportunities," said Mnaouer Jaffeli, a construction worker.

He added that "several women in the Douar are forced to travel more than 70 km by road every day to work in the vicinity of Sidi Bouzid for 10 dinars a day".

Any visitor can easily notice the absence of major activities in Ain Maddour.

Here, the locals earn their living from the production of honey and coal, the distillation of oil and the breeding of livestock.

Hédi Souissi, a farmer and Afif Souissi, a honey producer, call on the regional authorities to help them market their products, especially in the absence of ways to showcase and transport their goods.

For Om Heni, the mountain is a source of hope for the people of Douar Ain Maddour.

It is a source of work, food, livestock, coal production, but since it was declared a buffer zone, opportunities to earn a living in the region have become increasingly rare, she regretted.

"The regional authorities have drawn up an action plan to support residents of mountain areas threatened by terrorism," said Mohamed Sedki Bouaoun, Governor of Sidi Bouzid.

He told TAP the development of a one-kilometre section linking the school to the Daour of Aïn Maddour is part of the 2020 regional development programme, adding work will begin by next January.

A budget of 7 million dinars has been allocated by the Ministry of National Defence to pave the road linking Mount Mghila to the governorate of Kasserine over a distance of 25 kilometers, including the roads leading to Ain Jaffel and Ain Maddour, he said.

"Nearly 100,000 dinars will be allocated to 25 women in Ain Maddour to help them create sources of income and free health care will be provided to needy families," the same source said.

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