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Unemployed movement in oil and gas rich Ouargla town, Algeria


The city of Ouargla is located 85km from Hassi Messaoud, one of the wealth poles of Algeria and the richest energy towns in the country, where most of the big oil and gas companies are based.

Since 2012, only a few months after the start of the Arab Spring, there has been growing discontent  about the economic marginalization and the lack of socio-economic development and infrastructure, despite it being the provincial capital to the oil and gas-rich area of Hassi Messaoud. Since then, protests have been led by the CNDDC (National Committee for the defence of the Rights of the Unemployed).

In 2013, Ouargla was the site of the first move against the government's fracking plans.

Protests were held for the several weeks in February 2 015. In the middle of the town's marketplace, a tent was erected as a centre for rallying opposition, holding debates and educational events. One of the slogans put forward by the people of Ouargla is: “The people declared a moratorium on shale gas”.  Over the years, CNDDC was able to mobilise tens of thousands of people to join demonstrations, demanding decent jobs and protesting against economic exclusion, social injustice and the underdevelopment of the Ouargla region. While the protestors have been calling for a real job creation strategy, at times they have also worked closely with protestors from other sites, such as those fighting against the exploitation of shale gas in Ain Salah.

As recently as February 2017, the CNDDC were mobilising for 10 days blocking access to the local job centre to protest clientelism and and special privileges that work to keep local workers out.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Unemployed movement in oil and gas rich Ouargla town, Algeria
State or province:Ouargla Province
Location of conflict:Ouargla
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Shale gas fracking
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Shale gas
Natural Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population: Unemployed local population
Start of the conflict:01/01/2012
Company names or state enterprises:Sonatrach from Algeria
Entreprise Nationale de Services aux Puits (ENSP) from Algeria
Entreprise National de Travaux Aux Puits (ENTP) from Algeria
Entreprise Nationale du Forage (ENAFOR) from Algeria
Entreprise Nationale de Geophysique Algérie (ENA-GEO) from Algeria
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:CNDDC (National Committee for the defence of the Rights of the Unemployed

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
Informal workers
Social movements
Unemployed workers (esp. youth)
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces


Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:The struggle has been for more jobs for the disenfranchised and economically disempowered youth as well as to confront the contemptuous authorities and challenge them in order to bring about justice.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

El Watan (2017). Ouargla : Les chômeurs exigent le départ du directeur de l’ANEM. 02 February 2017.

Hamza Hamouchene (2016). The Struggle for Energy Democracy in the Maghreb. Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.

Al Jazeera - 14 MARCH 2013

Thousands protest unemployment in Algeria

Estimated 10,000 gather in Sahara town to protest lack of employment opportunities and corruption in oil-rich region.

Protests in Ouargla: Focusing on Job Creation in Algeria

Apr 02 2013

by Mahmoud Ourabah


Meta information

Contributor:Platform London
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2677



Rally in Ouargla

Rally in Ouargla