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Caring for Life in Tadmamt

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Tadmamt tree nursery, Province of Al Haouz (23 July 2018)

By Saloua Rmita (Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus)
Hajar Ennamli (National School of Management and Trade in Oujda)
HAF Interns
Marrakech
 

We are volunteering with High Atlas Foundation in Marrakesh, for the purpose of living an unforgettable experience and discovering HAF’s activities.

Our first project site visit was to Tadmamt.  HAF’s tree nursery represents a partnership with the Department of Waters and Forests, and it was first funded in 2012 by the United Nations Development Program.

This nursery includes one hectare of land for planting three kinds of organic fruit seeds which are irrigated by a large water basin. There are cherry (60 000 seeds), almond (85,800 seeds), and walnuts (45,000 seeds).

Upon arriving at the site, we met Mr. Youssef, who takes care of the land now that his father, who is the responsible in the nursery, is ill. In our journey, we went visit Mr. Omar, Youssef‘s father, at his home.  His family is so humble and generous.  They welcomed us with a smile.

Mr. Omar, is a sixty-year-old man.  In addition, he is a hard-working person who supports his large family from the salary he receives from HAF. Mr. Omar lives 12 kilometers from the nursery.  This doesn’t prevent him from coming every morning to the nursery, except for now that he is not feeling well.  It is more than a job for him, it is a story of love.

Moreover, HAF’a approach consists to improve livelihoods of rural households, increasing incomes and socioeconomic status of marginalized villages. HAF’s goal is to overcome the poverty cycle by pushing past traditional practices of subsistence agriculture with the help of the nurseries and other agricultural activities, such as cooperative and certifying organic.

HAF‘s purpose is noble.  This amazing organization is supporting and helping people to achieve their dreams. This experience taught us how hard life is for other people, and how the Foundation is trying hard to make people’s life easier and give them chances to make their lives better.

We are thankful to the High Atlas Foundation for giving us such a wonderful opportunity to be here as volunteers.

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Youssef, Omar’s son, caring for the Tadmamt nursery.

 Give to this important nursery for family farmers in Morocco.

 

Active Youth

By Said Bennani,
HAF Project Manager
 

Here at the Abdelaziz Ben Driss Center for the Protection of Children, HAF’s team in Fes and the youth living at the center are appreciating all the visits of our partners from other places in Morocco.  Not only visitors from Morocco come, but also people travel from far away, outside of the country.  They have come to meet the children and see our work together.

The project is about a fruit tree nursery, which we started building May last year.  When the kids receive guests they feel happy and more encouraged about their work in the nursery, and to learn more about agriculture.

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Mr. Jamal Mimouni who is one of our partners from the Oujda region, is that area’s director ‘’ANDZOA’’ - the National Agency for Oasis Zones Development and Argan. He came by the center one recent Friday afternoon. We visited together all the nursery parts and he expressed how he liked the idea of building a fruit tree nursery with youth.  

We talked about how the children engage in the project and learn many skills and receive environmental education.  Every day the kids join us in the nursery. He talked with the children.  The children were happy to walk together to the nursery and show Mr. Jamal all the trees we planted these past months. They were happy as they are all the time, when people come and visit the great work they are doing in the nursery!  Some of them say: “Look at to the seeds and cuttings we planted together, they are now trees, they are growing very fast! We were with you that time, Mr. Said, do you remember that?”

Children from the Fes area and other cities are hosted at this center.  Some people come are rural areas, which means they already have an idea about agriculture and work in farming and planting trees.  Some of the children are very helpful with naming all the local plants, which grow in the nursery. All the time we hear the children talk to each other about the types of plants and trees, and what they are used for at their hometowns.  For those who are having their first experience with an agricultural project, it is hard for them sometimes to understand what is going on in the nursery.  But, with more time attending the activities, they learn more about the actions we implement here at the center. This collection of children of all ages and backgrounds allow them to learn from each other, coordinating with the HAF team in Fes and the Center staff.

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Furthermore, we mentioned to Mr. Jamal our visitor that we are looking to work in the same way at the Oujda center, which we started to do in recent months, planting argan and carob seeds.

It seems like those activities with youth from different ages and environments can help build leaders for community development.  With more training and workshops we organize for the children, will transfer capacities to improve the way they live every day.  In other words, this kind of this project is helping to have more active youth in Moroccan society.

HAF sincerely thanks Ecosia of Germany and Morocco's Ministry of Youth and Sports for making this youth and tree planting project a reality.

 

"Give to this project."

 

Podcast episode of - On the Issues - where HAF's president Yossef Ben-Meir is interviewed

Check out this podcast episode of - On the Issues - where HAF's president Yossef Ben-Meir is interviewed.  It is interesting and fun because it is a conversation with his father, Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, who is a professor of international relations at New York University.  They talk about sustainable development, Morocco, and project experiences.  Enjoy.

 

 

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Why Education Isn’t the Only Solution: An Overview of Female Employment in Morocco and the Region

By Katherine O’Neill
Marrakech
 

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has the lowest female employment rate of anywhere in the world. Though most countries in the MENA region, including Libya and Iran, have seen gradually increasing rates of working women, Morocco’s female labor force participation (FLFP) rate has actually decreased since 1999, now sitting at 26 percent, according to Brookings. This decline not only contradicts global and regional trends, but also comes despite significant efforts both by the Moroccan government and NGOs to increase women’s education, in hopes of improving their employment opportunities. The World Bank estimates that higher FLFP rates could result in a 25 percent average increase in household income, something which would dramatically improve the lives of men, women, and youth in the region.

Women’s education programs are excellent endeavors that change lives and promote equality, especially considering the high illiteracy rates of rural women. However, education alone is not the solution to low FLFP. In Morocco, according to the World Bank, women comprise 47 percent of the population holding a tertiary degree of some kind, and yet the vast majority remain marginalized from the workforce. Similar statistics showing high education and low employment for women are prevalent throughout the MENA region. The issue is not unemployment for women, but complete inactivity in the workforce. Morocco World News reports that over 70 percent of Moroccan women have simply left the workforce; they are neither employed nor searching for work, though one third of these women possess degrees that would qualify them for well-paying jobs.

In a Brookings survey, urban women aged 15 to 29, who were either in school or recently graduated, were asked if they were working or planning to work upon graduation. The vast majority of respondents said no, and were asked for their reasoning: 45 percent listed family opposition, while 30 percent said they were too busy with responsibilities at home. Though lack of education is certainly a problem in Morocco, particularly among rural women, it is clear that it is not the only barrier to female employment.

Neither is legal restriction; though the MENA region does have the highest number of constraints on women in the world – making it difficult for women to attain the social, political, and economic agency necessary to participate in the workforce – Morocco is somewhat of an exception. In 2004, Morocco enacted a progressive reform to its code of family law (Moudawana) to promote equality in the rights of women and men.

In the case of Morocco specifically, advocates of higher FLFP do not need to push for legal reform, but for the active enforcement of existing laws. The Moudawana reform set the stage for women’s economic participation; however, the vast majority of rural women remain unaware of their rights and, therefore, unable to exercise them. The formal law is in place, but it is not being applied effectively. There is not widespread respect of these rights because very few people are familiar with them. Efforts to increase awareness of Moudawana would help remove the implicit biases and barriers continuing to prevent Moroccan women from working.

Since young women listed family opposition and responsibilities at home as their two main reasons for not entering the workforce, governments and NGOs need to design programs that address these issues specifically. In Morocco and the MENA, there is a desperate need for women’s empowerment. Women need self-confidence and the ability to advocate for their ambitions, otherwise they will continue to be consigned to the domestic sphere. The duties of childcare, cooking, and cleaning are placed almost solely on women, making it difficult for them to work outside the home. Incentive programs for employers to provide services that ease the domestic burden on women, such as free daycare centers, paid maternity leave, etc., would significantly help women enter the workforce. Additionally, more focus should be given to the creation of women’s cooperatives, especially in rural regions. Cooperatives allow women to collectively manage their businesses, which means they set their own schedules, and are thus in a better position to accommodate both household and work responsibilities.

Existing strategies to increase women’s presence in the workforce are not working.  Since 2016, the High Atlas Foundation has been conducting a women’s empowerment program in Morocco that integrates Moudawana with a self-discovery process, bringing women together to unlock their socioeconomic potential. Often, this program (developed in conjunction with the Empowerment Institute) results in the creation of cooperatives, where rural women pool their resources and talent to start their own entreprises. If sustainable change is to occur, governments and NGOs need to take a participatory approach that focuses on the self-identified obstacles and needs of women.

 

Katherine O’Neill is studying International Relations at Claremont McKenna College; she is interning with the High Atlas Foundation for the summer.

 

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The Aboghlou women’s cooperative meets outside in Ourika Valley, Morocco.

 

Support women's empowerment in Morocco.

 

When Policy Turns to Action

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Nathan Park, HAF Intern
Marrakech, Morocco
 

Morocco World News just released an article covering the “first UN-sponsored Global Compact on Migration” that occurred on July 13th in New York City.  Morocco was praised for the way that it has dealt with the international migration crisis by its democratic and innovative policies. In 2013, the government implemented a ‘regularization program’ to legalize irregular migrants and provide resources to aid in their societal integration.

While Morocco has taken these bold legal steps towards integrating its high influx of irregular migrants, there is still a discrepancy between policy and action. Morocco has taken positive strides in this endeavor, yet many migrants still struggle to obtain the resources that Morocco claimed it would provide.

The promise to contribute a “strong multilateral framework” for migrants across the participating countries is worthy of praise, but like Morocco’s 2013 regularization programs, its effectiveness often falters when implemented. This Compact based on international consensus represents a global vision, a global voice, that the world desires to see accomplished. But is that all it will be? Too often, voices are susceptible to getting lost amidst the shifting tides of politics.

The U.N. plans to host a conference in Marrakech next December signifying the complete adoption of the Global Compact. This will push Morocco to continue building on the regularization programs they have already established, and continue creating the necessary infrastructure to support it within their country. There will need to be a better streamlined process for regularization, as well as better legal and social infrastructures for assisting migrants with their transition to a new life.

Morocco’s migration policy model is groundbreaking for North Africa, but real progress towards addressing the international migration crisis will come only when the countries who have signed the U.N. Global Compact truly make the decision to invest long-term. Countries will need to take similar steps to Morocco in creating democratic initiatives to legalize and integrate the migrants that come to them.

One such example is a proposed legal aid clinic for migrants and refugees at University Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah in the Fez. Local solutions such as this reflects the will to welcome migrants into one’s country and demonstrates tangible leaps towards achieving it. But more than just representing a global consensus on the migration crisis, the Global Compact creates international accountability that is vital to making sure that policy turns to democratic action.

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HAF in Morocco

High Atlas Foundation
4 Rue Qadi AyaadAl Manar 4A - 3rd floor - Appt. 12 El Harti, Guéliz, MARRAKESH 40.000 - Morocco

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High Atlas Foundation 511 Sixth Avenue, #K110, NEW YORK, NY 10011
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