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Updated: Jul 27

By Lillian Thompson

Training and Participatory Development Specialist Peace Corps Response/ HAF

During the summer a HAF team got together in Casablanca to create a strategic plan for 2011 and beyond. HAF was experiencing growing pains and was in need of discussion, reflection and planning. Projects currently in the pipeline add up to almost $1M in funding needs, not counting plans for expansion of the academic partnership with the Hassan II University at the Center for Community Consensus-Building and Sustainable Development.  Demand for training and guidance in participatory development has been increasing because of the Moroccan government’s new programs for community development. The team knew that organizational growth would be needed to cover all the bases, while maintaining the foundation’s commitment to keep administrative costs low.

Members of the team included Yossef Ben-Meir, HAF’s founder and president, Suzanne Baazet, vice president, resident entrepreneur and philanthropic leader, Abderrahim Ouarghidi, HAF’s training and project manager, PhD candidate in ethno-botany, ethno-medicine and ethno-ecology, and expert in rural development, and Nabila Jaber, who has been wearing many hats, not the least of which is managing operations at the Center in Mohammedia and communicating with friends, sponsors and donors about HAF’s events.  As HAF’s Peace Corps Response volunteer, and a strategic planner in previous lives, I facilitated the session and wrote up what everybody said.  We met in a wonderful hotel lobby, where it was quiet and air conditioned in the dead of summer, and we could sip hand-squeezed orange juice.

A summary of HAF’s 2011+ strategic plan is posted in the About section of this website. We used a “balanced scorecard” to identify four areas all needing attention:

1. Programming, which includes the One Million Tree campaign and new “area-based” programs, where multiple projects will be implemented in communities 2. Advocacy and Education, which addresses HAF’s expanding program with Hassan II University at the Center, in addition to other training and advocacy initiatives 3. Financial Development and Management, with a $1M annual fund raising goal 4. Organizational Development and Structure, which recognizes the need to work in multiple locations, and to staff HAF’s training commitments as well as community projects.

In some ways, Organizational Development and Structure is the most challenging area to address right now.  Not only is HAF growing its traditional projects in technical areas (water, agriculture, cooperatives and more). It is also delivering training in participatory development and management as a stand-alone project in itself—and to do that, the resource required is trainers experienced in this field. Training resources have to be developed and viewed as project costs.

I’ve enjoyed working with Yossef, and the whole team in Morocco, on developing HAF’s training capacity.  Besides getting into the organizational and planning business, I have followed the “lessons learned” through HAF’s training grant from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and have drafted a guide to the participatory development process. It includes all the goodies of Participatory Rural Analysis, plus materials from development research, and my additional background in business and project management.  It’s been fun for me and, I hope, helpful for HAF and the country of Maroc, as it reaches new levels of human development for its rural and underserved urban communities.

My tour as a Peace Corps Response volunteer concludes in November. I am not taking any of the cats in my neighborhood home (this time), but I look forward to being an avid supporter and contributor, when possible, to the great mission that HAF has undertaken for the people of Morocco.

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