AlNourWomen’s agency and equal rights can help to significantly reduce poverty. When evaluating the development of a country, the role of women should not be overlooked. When women are empowered through literacy and education, they become more productive members of society that contribute to global poverty reduction. AlNour is a Moroccan business that allows women in Morocco to be part of the labor force, especially disabled women.

Cultural Norms Limit Women

Oftentimes women do not have the same opportunities as their male counterparts to receive education, engage in the labor force or own property. This is partly because of cultural norms that limit women to domestic responsibilities. By reducing unpaid domestic work, women become empowered and capable of obtaining income security and sustainable livelihoods, which significantly diminishes poverty levels.

Gender Inequality in Morocco

Gender inequality and the lack of women in the labor force in Morocco are related and ongoing issues. The nation, which is located in northwestern Africa, ranked 137 out of 149 countries according to the 2018 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report and ranked 141 out of 149 countries for women’s economic participation and opportunity. Although there were reforms in 2011 to increase the participation of women in the labor force in Morocco, and specifically within the government, women largely remain underrepresented in elected positions.

The economy would benefit from an increase in women’s participation. The IMF examined the relationship between gender inequality and growth and found that policies that better integrate women into the economy would greatly improve growth. As of 2019, if as many women worked as men worked, “income per capita could be almost 50% higher than it is now.”

The participation of women in the labor force in Morocco increases economic development and therefore reduces global poverty. But, how can women become more active citizens in society? The answer can be found by examining an organization called AlNour, which serves as an important example of how to best empower women.

AlNour: A Women’s Empowerment Organization

AlNour is a textile and embroidery business that provides an outlet for women to participate in the labor force in Morocco, thereby contributing to the economic development of the country as a whole. AlNour, which means “the light” in Arabic, began in 2013 after Patricia Kahane, originally from Austria, began the enterprise as a means of offering disabled Moroccan women sources of income through textile production and embroidery. The business employs disabled female workers who face a double disadvantage in Morocco due to their disabilities and gender.

The organization not only provides women with work but also offers training programs for languages, professional and artisan skills. The company has a van that allows women to easily and safely travel to and from work and also has a child care center for working mothers. Furthermore, the company offers free breakfast and lunch daily. The business has partnered with local shops to distribute its products and it also has a website, which features a range of items from home accessories to clothing.

AlNour serves as a rich example of how an organization can alter the lives of many and even impact an entire country. By developing sustainable solutions that not only invest in education but also emotional and financial support, women can break free from traditional roles and gender stereotypes, while simultaneously promoting financial inclusivity and bettering the nation entirely.

Gender Equality Progress in Morocco

There is light and hope for women in Morocco, as significant progress has been made. For example, the revision of the family code to expand the rights of women in marriage, guardianship, child custody and access to divorce is a monumental stride. The creation of a 14-week paid maternity leave clause was also introduced. Additionally, “the first and most advanced gender budgeting initiative in the Middle East and Central Asia region was launched in Morocco in 2002.”

While policies and laws that support gender equality such as the gender budget initiative are undoubtedly important, creating sustainable organizations like AlNour is an equally essential step in order to create a system that allows women to personally and professionally prosper from the ground level upward, consequently helping the economic development of Morocco as a whole.

– Marielle Marlys
Photo: Flickr

Solar Energy is Transforming Africa
Photovoltaics panels, more commonly referred to as solar panels, are often cited as the best way to decarbonize the world’s energy grids and reduce emissions. According to MIT, the price per solar cell has decreased by 99% since 1980. These incredibly low costs have now unlocked the use of solar panels for the world’s poorest continent, Africa, with incredibly positive ramifications for the local environments of its citizens and the international effort to reduce emissions. Beyond emissions, however, cheap solar energy also improves the prospects for poor and rural Africans to access electricity, opening new opportunities to enhance standards of living and reduce poverty rates. With the majority of the world’s poor now located in sub-Saharan Africa, these cheap panels, along with the innovative thinking of African communities across the continent, have created new use cases for solar energy that are increasing water security, improving rural access to electricity and increasing economic resilience for Africa’s developing economies. Here are three ways solar energy is transforming Africa.

3 Ways Solar Energy is Transforming Africa

  1. Kenya’s Solar Desalination Plant: Kenya, a former British colony located in eastern Africa, is home to a population of approximately 50 million people. With an annual population growth rate of 2.2%, Kenya has one of the fastest-growing populations in the world and is set to see a population of 85 million by 2050, according to the World Bank. While a significant amount of Kenya’s population growth will be in urban developments, only 28% of Kenya’s population is urban today, meaning that Kenya’s government will need to find ways to provide water and energy infrastructure for its rural communities for decades to come. One small Kenyan fishing village known as Kiunga, home to about 3,500 individuals, has found a solution. Partnering with an American NGO known as GivePower, this village uses solar panels to desalinate ocean water, with the capacity to deliver water to 35,000 residents, 10 times the village’s current population. Today, over 300 million sub-Saharan Africans struggle with water insecurity, often leading to conflict and instability that causes poverty, according to global NGO The Water Project. Developments that can reduce such insecurities can go a long way in improving the future for Africa’s poor. While much more progress needs to occur on this front, this village of Kiunga is providing a template for villages across Africa to harness the power of the sun for water security.
  2. Tanzania’s Rural Mini-Grids: Tanzania, a neighbor of Kenya and a former British and German colony, is home to about 58 million people. Tanzania is East Africa’s largest nation and is home to its largest population and its lowest population density. With its urban population constituting only 35.2% of the country, Tanzania faces the challenge of providing electricity to rural communities far from its city centers. Solar power is uniquely capable of delivering power to these rural communities, and Tanzania has embraced new economic models called “mini-grids” in order to deliver this power. While traditional fossil fuel power plants rely on extensive supply chains and infrastructure in order to deliver electricity, in part due to the weight of the fuels, solar panels generate power on-site, directly from the sun. These “mini-grids” allow small Tanzanian villages to afford electricity for the first time, creating opportunities for rural education and improving security, ultimately contributing to the reduction of rural poverty in Tanzania. Although the current situation is poor, with more than 70% of Tanzanians lacking access to electricity, by 2040, 140 million Africans – including many in Tanzania – will get electricity from these mini-grids, according to the World Resources Institute.
  3. Morocco’s Mega Solar Plant: The North African nation of Morocco is becoming an increasingly important economic power in Africa, with a growth rate of nearly 4.1%. Despite this progress, however, Morocco’s rural poverty rate remains high at 19%. Though one cannot fault Morocco for prioritizing its economy over its environment, given its current poverty rate, Morocco has committed to ramping up its solar energy production, seeking a 50% renewable energy capacity by 2030. The benefits of this development, however, are more than environmental, as Morocco is now a net energy exporter to Europe, decreasing its domestic electricity costs and enhancing its economic resilience, all while improving its economic and political relationships with Europe. Thus, Morocco has used solar energy to not only maintain its commitments to emissions reductions but also as a tool to diversify its economy, allowing the nation to not only lift its citizens from poverty but to sustain its citizen’s incomes in good times and bad.

Poverty remains a significant problem in Africa, with more than half of the world’s deeply impoverished peoples living in sub-Saharan Africa. However, through remarkably low costs and a variety of unique use cases across Africa, solar panels are now increasingly capable of delivering energy, water security and economic growth. From LED-powered lights in rural African schools to increasingly reliable electricity for African small businesses, solar energy is transforming Africa by contributing to its economic rise and modernizing its rural life. And, with solar-powered desalination moving from fiction to reality, water security is increasingly possible across the continent, leading to greater community stability and resilience. All of these factors play an essential role in decreasing poverty rates and improving the quality of life on Earth’s poorest continent. Sunlight, it seems, will brighten Africa’s nights in the future.

– Saarthak Madan
Photo: UN Multimedia

Women’s Rights in Morocco
Since Morocco gained its independence from France in 1956, there have been many changes to women’s rights. Across the nation, women continue to fight for their rights in legal, social, political and economic contexts. Although work remains, local organizations have made great strides in improving the status of women’s rights in Morocco.

Women’s Rights On Paper

Morocco’s Constitution addresses the issue of women’s rights. Article 19 of the 2011 Constitution states, “The man and the woman enjoy, in equality, the rights and freedoms of civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental character.” This is a general guarantee of gender and matrimonial equality. Moreover, there have been numerous other ratifications in the Moroccan legislature that correlate to this statement.

Moroccan women now have protections against male guardian requirements, rape-marriage allowances and sexual harassment. The government passed all of these laws after 2004, with one as recent as 2018. Yet, there are still a few loopholes in the legal system. For example, the Family Law allows forced marriage if a judicial waiver is provided. Many believe that there is still progress to be made.

Status of Women’s Rights in Morocco (Social Contexts)

While the Moroccan Constitution is promising and shows progression, conservative ideals remain common in social institutions. This includes the hierarchy of power held by males and gender-based discrimination. Socially, the need is the greatest for reform and change, which law or legislation do not often achieve.

Women are fighting for equality in Morocco today by seizing opportunities, including education, economic and financial freedom and leadership positions. By holding higher positions in society, these conservative assumptions may begin to dissipate in family and cultural contexts.

Status of Women’s Rights in Morocco (Political Contexts)

Women gained both the right to vote and the right to stand in an election on the same date in May 1963. The assumption of leadership by women is historical and considered to be a great gain for Moroccan women. Bassima Hakkaoui, a veiled political leader, is now in charge of the Ministry of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development. She is the first veiled woman to hold this position.

Unfortunately, most women struggle to gain access to political leadership positions today. As of 2018, only 81 out of 395 parliamentary members were held by women. This begs the question of whether Moroccan women can be accurately and meaningfully represented by their government voices. Many activists call for more female representation in parliament and other positions of power.

Status of Women’s Rights in Morocco (Economic Contexts)

According to USAID Morocco, ranks 141 out of 149 countries in women’s economic participation and opportunity. Women make up 50% of Morocco’s population but only 26% of the labor force. Also, the female labor force participation rate in Morocco decreased by 6% between 1999 and 2010. Moroccan women remain a largely untapped resource within the very borders of the country.

One of the results of the 2011 Constitution includes positive advancements in girls’ education. Increasing access and encouraging girls to finish school has led to more women contributing to the labor market and the economy. The accumulation of generational wealth is an example of this influence.

Fighting for Women’s Rights

To continue improving the status of women’s rights in Morocco, the strengthening of the justice system is crucial. Addressing social and cultural barriers is also important, as many gender limitations stem from conservative or patriarchal views.

Two notable organizations are fighting to raise the status of women’s rights in Morocco and both reside in Rabat. The Democratic Association for Moroccan Women and the Mobilizing for Rights Associates (MRA) work within the community and advocate for legal reforms. These reforms promote women’s social, economic and political equality, monitor international human rights compliance and assist women’s rights campaigns.

MRA also tracks the implementation of the newly signed Elimination of Violence Against Women law, which was recently enacted in September 2018. This law has shown the world that Morocco is willing to make progress in gender equality. Furthermore, it exemplifies the importance of these women’s rights organizations in making progress.

Moving Forward

Although Morocco has made improvements in women’s rights, work remains. Women across the country are continuing to fight for equality in all contexts. Moving forward, women’s rights organizations continue to advocate for the safety and liberty of all Moroccan women.

Savannah Gardner
Photo: Flickr

testing and povertyDoing away with certain high-stakes exams could help alleviate poverty. The pandemic has forced many to consider alternatives to what was the status quo, including high-stakes exams used in education systems around the world. These popular exams have roots as far back as the selection of civil servants in ancient China. During the past two centuries, the number of educational systems that make use of high-stakes testing has grown. Exams may be useful as a means of helping students, parents and educators understand how the student is doing. However, they become high-stakes when decisions regarding admissions and advancement rely on exam results. Eliminating high-stakes exams could reduce both testing and poverty.

The Positive and Negative Consequences of Testing

Research has shown that there are positive and negative impacts of high-stakes testing. The benefits of high-stakes examinations include concrete educational standards and assistance for students who perform poorly. On the other hand, disadvantages include a narrowed curriculum, cheating and policies that disproportionately impact minority students.

According to the World Bank’s Public “Examinations Examined,” “[It] is difficult to make the case that examinations, whatever the motivation in their introduction, played a major role in the promotion of equity.” With an emphasis on testing and poverty in contemporary education, understanding how high-stakes exams reflect inequity may help educators better assist disadvantaged students.

Testing and Poverty

High-stakes testing puts pressure not just on students, but also on parents, educators, schools and  governments. These pressures affect those with low socioeconomic status the most. Students from low-income families often face cognitive, emotional and social developmental deficits induced by poverty and stunting. The effects of poverty and stunting turn into a 19.8% deficit in adult annual income.

Low-income families also often lack the financial resources to pay for their student’s academic success with tutors, textbooks and materials. Moreover, educators and schools may focus their efforts on more advantaged students. Studies in Zambia, for example, reveal that advantaged students tend to do better than poor students.

Furthermore, public spending on education is higher in wealthier communities. One reason may be because the government rewards schools that perform better in high-stakes exams with additional funding. Many of these schools, comprised of students from high socioeconomic statuses, tend to have more resources than their low-income counterparts.

This lack of spending directly connects testing and poverty, as using testing to measure success gives fewer resources to underprivileged students. A report by the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity reports that 330 million students are in school but are not learning the basics. This may be connected to poor quality teaching or poor resources, which can result from measuring success with tests. Ultimately, being poor has become closely connected to poorer exam performance. Indeed, “Large scale assessments in exam subjects and grades routinely show a steep ‘social gradient’ in performance,” according to the Center for Global Development.

Doing Away with High-Stakes Exams

Education is central to reducing poverty. For example, individual income increases by 8% for every year that one goes to school. More specifically, having a secondary education in Tanzania decreases by 60% the chance that a working adult will be poor.

Recognizing the benefits of education and the consequences of testing and poverty, schools could eliminate some high-stakes exams. Countries such as Kenya and Singapore, as well as most Caribbean countries, use tests to determine a student’s placement in secondary schools. Yet those who made it into secondary schools in Kenya obtained employment benefits, decreasing low-skill self-employment, compared to those who did not. According to the IMF,  “increasing [the] average years of schooling and [the] reducing [of] inequality of schooling” can significantly reduce economic inequality.

If primary and secondary education were universal, extreme poverty could lessen by half. To make this happen, developing countries dealing with the pandemic should consider doing away with certain high-stakes exams. This will allow poorer students to contribute to human capital.

The Good News

While it took 40 years for American girls’ enrollments in education to increase from 57% to 88%, it took Morocco 11 years. Yet, in 2013 there was a disparity in the net enrollment rate in lower secondary education. Though 79% for boys in urban areas were enrolled, the rate was only 26% for girls in rural areas.

Since 2007, Education for All (EFA) has provided girls in Morocco’s rural communities of the High Atlas mountains the opportunity of secondary education. The organization’s provision includes nutritious meals, hot showers, beds and access to computers. EFA has at least 50 girls who are enrolled at university.

While this work is laudable, governments may be able to provide similar results by doing away with high-stakes testing. When exams act as a gatekeeper to advanced education, they reproduce cycles of poverty. All students must have access to equal education in order to escape from poverty.

–  Kylar Cade
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in MoroccoMorocco, a country bordering both Algeria and Western Sahara, has faced increased conflicts with the rising issue of homelessness. In the country, there are thousands without proper shelter as the problem worsens. However, newly implemented organizations are seeing rapid improvements in homelessness in Morocco.

More than 700,000 Moroccan citizens are currently battling homelessness. In addition, it must be noted that the youth has been severely impacted as well. There are more than 30,000 children roaming the streets in search of basic resources, as many escape abusive home situations. Under a prevalent gap between the wealthy and poor, it is reported that more than 15% of the population lives on $3 a day. With the poverty rate increasing, many turn towards the streets. Approximately four million Moroccan citizens live below the poverty line.

Causes of Homelessness in Morocco

The main contributor to the rise of homelessness in Morocco is the Structural Adjustment Policy that was launched in 1963. Since then, the homeless rate has rapidly increased, leading to its large population in present day. The policy aimed to improve the finance and social sectors. However, due to underfunding and a misallocated budget, thousands of families lost funding. For this reason, many lost their homes to the government.

Another cause of homelessness in Morocco is the shift in values in Moroccan society. As mentioned earlier, the wealth gap between the ones in poverty and the wealthy have led to resentment against the homeless. With the focus on the upper class, the poor population of Morocco is not given any aid. In certain cases, the plight of the poor is simply ignored.

Consequences of Homelessness in Morocco

With the youth making up a large portion of the homeless population, various consequences have arisen. A major problem is the overall safety of the children on the streets. With tens of thousands of children without a home, many are subject to sexual assault and abuse. The streets of Morocco have been subject to numerous crimes against the youth.

Another consequence of the homelessness problem is the lack of education. In the rural parts of Morocco, only 36% of girls pursue an education. With the issue of homelessness, the youth prioritize survival over schooling. It is also reported that only one in seven children attend school in Morocco. Homelessness plays a primary role in these low statistics as children do not have the resources to pursue an education.

The Road to Change

Despite the rising numbers, there have been numerous efforts to combat homelessness in Morocco. For example, the Moroccan government has stepped up to help those in need. Jamila El Moussali, the Moroccan Minister of Solidarity, Social Development and Family, has recently called for the largest shelter operation in Moroccan history. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry has helped accommodate more than 6,300 homeless people and assisted 2,000 others in reuniting with their families. The government is looking to increase its involvement with the homeless in the coming years and boost social work to aid those in need. After completing one of the largest shelter operations, Morocco has seen a massive decline in the homeless population.

Even with the government’s newfound aid to help combat homelessness in Morocco, additional intervention is the key to make dramatic and long-lasting progress. For Morocco’s government to see a bright future and a reduced homeless count, it must act in a consistent manner to aid those in need. If the government can further boost the number of shelter operations, hundreds of thousands of homeless Moroccans would benefit.

Aditya Padmaraj
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Morocco
Since the early 2000s, the North African kingdom of Morocco has been successful in enacting programs that assist in pulling its poor citizens out of poverty. One goal in particular has been to decrease the number of people who suffer from hunger in Morocco. Here, long-term goal-setting and assistance with neighboring countries have allowed for noticeable success.

Despite a decade in which East and North African nations have seen growing levels of hunger, Morocco is one of a short list that has been able to circumvent the trend. Since 2008, the number of those in the undernourished category has decreased. According to the Global Hunger Index, the proportion of citizens who would be categorized as undernourished has gone from 5.2 in 2010 to 3.4 in 2019.

Plan Maroc Vert (PMV)

One can attribute much of the success in Morocco to the Plan Maroc Vert (PMV), or Morocco Green Plan, launched in 2008. The plan laid out broad goals of bolstering the commercial side of agriculture, strengthening the kingdom’s economy and trade, as well as the subsistent side, and lowering the overall amount of hunger in Morocco. The strategies to reach these goals included irrigation and reappropriation of lands that people traditionally used to farm wheat and cereal crops, fruits and vegetables, along with pastureland, thus increasing the worth of the crop yield.

Since the implementation of the PMV, there has been a noticeable diversification in the purchasing patterns of citizens, who now have access to more nutritional food. This, as well as the increased annual consumption of 3.3%, signals a higher standard of living.

The PMV ensured the establishment of multiple new programs within Morocco, including the National Food Safety Authority and the Agency for Agricultural Development. These agencies have taken steps to diversify the crop yield, specifically by expanding the amount of farmland in use by 11% and moving away from weather-sensitive crops, such as cereals.  Particularly, one goal of the PMV was to have red meat production at 500,000 tons annually by 2020, and it was able to accomplish this a year in advance.

Trade Relationships and International Aid

One of the greatest signs of success from the PMV has been the economic growth visible in Morocco for the past decade. Smarter practices at home have played a part, but the PMV has also allowed the kingdom to break new ground in trade and dealings internationally.

Morocco’s government has attempted to become more competitive and consistent with its closest trading partner, the European Union. Entering into a free trade agreement in 2012, Morocco has relied on this relationship to both aid its economy and provide it with the ability to export, as well as have a steady amount to import for its people. With higher import and export value comes more plentiful and affordable food for the people of Morocco.

Additionally, one can see the faith that others put into the PMV through donations from different aid groups and banks. The E.U., as well as organizations such as the World Bank, have been willing to invest large sums into the agricultural developments that the PMV highlighted. One such organization, the African Development Bank, has pledged $132 million toward the PMV in faith that the development of Moroccan agriculture will assist both at home and as a player in global trade.

The End of One Plan and the Start of Another

The goals of the PMV were to reach completion by the end of 2020. The goals ranged from the creation of 1.5 million new jobs to tripling of agricultural exports to the establishment of projects intending to aid the already large number of working farmers. In 2015, Morocco achieved the Millennium Development Goal 1 which was to reduce the amount of hunger in Morocco in half. The kingdom has been on track since implementation, and going forward looks to continue these milestone victories in the battle against hunger.

It is still unclear whether Morocco will reach all of the goals of the PMV by the end of 2020. However, with progress in the shape of large-scale agricultural development as well as lowered food shares and higher consumption among a growing middle-class, there have certainly been some successes. The PMV has led to the creation of a more secure agricultural system, as well as the creation of a new agricultural middle class and formation of 350,000 jobs for the kingdom’s youth.

Moreover, it seems as though this trend of development will continue, as King Mohammed VI announced in February 2020 there would be a followup Green Plan. The Generation Green 2020-2030 plan will follow from lessons that Morocco learned from the PMV, putting more focus on the security of a rural, agricultural class, promoting social development and protecting against the threat of environmental challenges.

With an obvious focus on creating a strong agricultural center, hunger in Morocco could continue to decrease at the same rates as under the PMV. Through program and job creation, Morocco has already shown that the correctly-implemented plans can lead to success in relief. Now, the Generation Green plan aims to move forward in maintaining a secure source of food and income to the Moroccan people.

– Matthew McKee
Photo: Flickr

Domestic Violence in Morocco
In Morocco, more than 50% of women have experienced violence. Among these women, only about 28% have sought help from others regarding their abusive environment. There is a new law put in place to criminalize violent actions against women. However, the government still needs to address several issues to protect women effectively from domestic violence in Morocco.

Laws to Protect Women Against Domestic Violence

The new law passed in 2018 outlaws some form of violent actions against partners and allows authorities to step into domestic affairs if it is necessary. This law spreads awareness and provides prevention measures. Abused women can file cases to charge abusive partners or family members. However, the law does not clarify what domestic violence is nor does it explicitly make marital rape a crime. Moreover, the law does not financially support victims or survivors of violence or any shelters for those who need housing after escaping from an abusive environment. The law requires police to be able to help abused women. However, they did not record statements of victims and made them go back to their partners in some cases. The law failed to create a system that checks if the authorities carry out their duties to protect the rights of abused women.

Vulnerable Women and Poverty

Poor women do not have access to education. As a result, they have to be financially dependent on their partners because they cannot find a job. These women tend to receive violence from their partner more passively than those who have jobs. Lack of education and jobs makes women vulnerable to abusive relationships because they feel no power to defend their rights and interests. Because of a lack of access to stable housing after escaping from an abusive situation, women are often forced to return to their abusive partners. Victims file criminal cases against their partners, but most of them drop cases because of the pressure from family or financial reasons. In the interview by UNFPA, Khadija tells her struggle about being financially dependent on her family after getting divorced from the abusive husband. She struggled with finding a job because of a lack of education.

Nongovernmental Organizations Help Abused Women

Several institutions and shelters exist in Morocco to help survivors of domestic violence. The Multi-sectoral Joint Programme is carried out by 13 national groups and more than 50 nongovernmental organizations. It provides legal and economic support for abused women. By 2010, they had 52 counseling centers in Morocco. Additionally, Fais entendre ta voix (Make Your Voice Heard) is a group working to empower women in Morocco. It offers legal help for women to defend themselves.

Effects of COVID-19 on the Victims

The COVID-19 lockdown prohibits individuals from going out without authorization. As a result, abused women cannot seek help. They have no choice but to stay at home where they face abuse. The number of calls to the hotline from abused women is about twice to three times more than before. After the efforts made by advocates, the authority made it possible to file domestic violence cases through phone calls and the Internet. This makes it easier for women who cannot go out to file cases. Poverty also plays a significant role in preventing abused women from seeking help because they do not have access to phones or technology. Therefore, the new tool to file complaints by phone and online help some victims. However, the COVID-19 lockdown still leaves impoverished women vulnerable.

The new law passed in 2018 is a big step to help vulnerable women in Morocco. Financial support and education for women can help to empower women more. Being financially dependent on husbands or partners makes it difficult for women to seek help or escape from an abusive partner. In the survey, more than 60% of men showed the possession of beliefs that women need to endure violence to keep family together. This shows the need to change social beliefs as well.

Sayaka Ojima
Photo: Pixabay

Moroccan Counterterrorism PolicyIn 2003, twelve Moroccan suicide bombers killed 45 people in Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city. Ever since the bombing in 2003, the King and the government have launched several counter-terrorism operations to address the roots of terrorism. These operations aim to prevent radicalization through not only the legal system but also education, religious reformation and social change. Fighting poverty is one of the important pillars of the Moroccan counter-terrorism policy.

The Importance of Combating Poverty for Counter-terrorism

Although poverty is not the direct cause of terrorist or violent activities, economic conditions play a significant role in fueling recruitment for extremist groups. Domestic economic conditions let Moroccans go abroad for jobs and allow the spread of radical ideology.

Moreover, a major factor that can cause Moroccans to participate in a terrorist group or activities is an economic recession. The average income for ISIL soldiers is much higher than that of Moroccans. Every attacker in the Casablanca bombing was from a poor region in the city. Therefore, combatting poverty for counterterrorism is particularly important for the Moroccan government. The government launched a program called the National Human Development Initiative (INDH). Although the purpose of the program is not solely for fighting against radicalization, the program still sought to prevent vulnerable poor people from being tempted to join extreme groups for economic reasons.

The National Human Development Initiative: The $6 Billion Idea

King Mohammed VI of Morocco launched the INDH in 2005 with an initial $1.2 billion budget to reduce the economic gap and increase social and economic inclusion. In the first 10 years, the program has invested about $6 billion and benefited more than 7 million people, including young people and women, through several projects.

Housing Program

The INDH launched its housing program to help people in need have access to housing. The people in need could buy apartments at an affordable price with low-interest loans. To eliminate slums, the government also launched the program, 2004 – 2010 Cities without Slums. Initially, the government sought to eradicate all slums by providing basic necessities, such as electricity and water lines. However, it changed course to improve the situation of slums rather than eradicate them completely. In providing basic needs, the government tried to stop migration from slums to urban areas. These migrations often contribute to the radicalization of people in cities.

Reducing Youth Unemployment

In Morocco, 27% of young people are unemployed. The Moroccan government focuses on three areas to address this: “identification and centralization of methods, tools and services,” “guidance, training and placement of unemployed youth” and “soft skills development for students and unemployed youth.” USAID has made efforts to increase the employment rate among young people. In three major cities, it created six places where young people can learn useful skills to get jobs. More than 200,000 people have used its education services.

Conclusion

Despite criticism and issues regarding decision-making and accountability, the Moroccan government’s efforts to combat poverty for counter-terrorism have been largely praised. Through reviewing these issues, the Moroccan government could improve its counter-terrorism policy as well as strategies to fight against poverty. Their counter-terrorism policy shows the importance of combatting poverty to enhance national security.

– Sayaka Ojima
Photo: Pixabay

Poverty Eradication in Morocco
Within a decade, the Moroccan government was able to lower the country’s poverty rate to 9%, previously 16.2%, from 2000 to 2010. According to a World Bank report, the rate decreased even more with the national poverty rate at 4.8% in 2018. In 2018, the unforeseeable natural obstructions halted the process of poverty eradication in Morocco. Nevertheless, the strides that some have made in poverty eradication in Morocco serve as examples of the importance of investing in foreign aid. Here are five ways Morocco has successfully helped its citizens with poverty reduction.

Progressive Taxing and Better-Targeted Public Spending

Despite adopting a new constitution in 2011 that granted universal public services, such as free education and healthcare, Morocco still faced some adversities. For one, the Moroccan government was not able to meet the needs of its surging population. The state budget disproportionately benefited cities with larger populations. As a result, it left rural areas with resource shortages. To efficiently reallocate public spending, the country set aside funds for local-level organizations such as NGOs.

NGOs are single-issue driven and avoid any political alliance. NGOs target anything from the distribution of resources, such as water and electricity, to literacy campaigns for their communities. A Carnegie Endowment for International Peace publication concluded that “[d]espite NGOs’ limited resources, case studies have shown that their actions have made a real difference in the lives of people at the local level.” The World Bank study predicts that social spending will increase with the 2020 Budget Law that is under development.

Access to Education

When accessible, education encourages free and critical thinking. ChildFund International believes that knowledge breaks the cycle of poverty because education fosters the power to dream of a better future. Additionally, it purports that education presents employment opportunities. Upon state independence, Moroccan policymakers prioritized free education. A 2019 article estimated that Morocco spent about 5.26% of GDP on education which is “considerably higher than the world average.”

Slowed Down Population Growth

A lower population growth rate means more sustainable resource allocations. Morocco is able to meet demands for resources, such as food and housing, with slow population growth. The Carnegie Endowment report claims that “access to education and fewer opportunities in the labor market delayed the average age of marriage… and slowed down population growth.”

Moroccan citizens are waiting longer to start families, which is allowing them the time to enable economic prosperity as well. By securing their financial stability first, parents are guaranteeing desirable circumstances for raising future children and wealth to inherit. The research also supports that “inheritance is an important channel through which some people in Morocco have moved out of poverty.” Generational wealth gives future generations a financial head-start when they begin to participate in the economy.

Investing in Infrastructure

In decentralizing government spending, Morocco made accomplishments in basic infrastructure programs. These programs tackled the drinking water supply, electrical networks and road systems. For example, the program known as PAGER increased access to drinking water for rural areas by 29.4% in 2009.

The program PAGER has worked to reduce health risks in communities so that there is less strain on healthcare resources. Additionally, the program has removed the responsibility of girls having to carry clean water home from distant drinking wells. Other advances in rural electrification have led to readily available information. Meanwhile, new road constructions make it easier to reach schools and jobs located outside of small towns.

Controlling Inflation

The World Bank estimated that inflation in Morocco had a Consumer Price Index (CPI) of about 0.6% in 2019. Forecasts estimate that inflation will only reach 1.7% in 2021, which is relatively low for neighboring countries. In addition, the World Bank attributes the low inflation rate to “sound monetary policy and ample supply of fresh food.”

Low inflation is important for keeping prices for goods competitive in the world market. Competitive prices are attractive to countries seeking affordable exports and tourists. Additionally, contained inflation protects the income of Moroccans as citizens will not have to pay inflated prices for everyday goods.

Although the country’s hardships are still ongoing, there are many efforts towards poverty eradication in Morocco. Morocco’s efforts prove the efficiency of state intervention when combined with smaller local governments and respond accordingly to the demands of the most vulnerable. 

– Lizt Garcia
Photo: Flickr

Morocco is a water-scarce country. It is greatly impacted by the effects of rapid desertification, poor water management and high susceptibility to droughts. Water resources in the country have fallen by about 71% since 1980. In rural communities it is common for families to rely on one water source, meaning water scarcity can have profoundly negative impacts on Morrocan families and their livelihoods. Drought, in particular, occurs on average once every three years and can have devastating effects on the livelihoods of Moroccans. About 51.5% of the Moroccan population is negatively impacted by droughts. With drought on the rise, sustainable water management is integral to the development of the economy. As a result, an organization called Dar Si Hmad is stepping in to use CloudFishing to combat poverty and water scarcity in Morocco.

Water Scarcity and Poverty

The citizen’s organization ‘Social Watch’ identifies the poor management of scarce water resources as a serious aggravator of rural poverty in Morocco. Farmers and women in Morocco are particularly burdened by the effects of water scarcity. Forty percent of working Moroccans are employed in the agricultural sector and 70% of farmers struggle due to the impact of frequent droughts. Women in rural communities in Morocco spend on average 3.5 hours a day seeking and carrying water, restricting their time in pursuit of other activities.

CloudFishing to Solve the Water Crisis

Dar Si Hmad, a female-led non-governmental organization (NGO), is taking an innovative approach to solving the crisis of water scarcity and alleviating poverty in Morocco. The NGO’s vision is to “enable sustainable livelihoods and create opportunities for low-resource communities to learn and prosper.” It is pursuing this vision, in part, by using ‘CloudFishing’ to combat poverty in Morocco. CloudFishing is an approach to solve the water crisis by utilizing the abundant resource of fog. In Morocco, fog gathers from the ocean and is captured in the mountainous landscape for about 140 days out of the year. Dar Si Hmad uses fine mesh to ‘fish’ for droplets of water within the fog which, once it accumulates, drops into a basin and is then filtered through a process of solar-powered UV, sand and cartridge filters.

The water collected by Dar Si Hmad is piped to 140 households providing approximately 500 people in southwest Morocco with access to sustainable clean water. Dar Si Hmad has developed into the largest functioning fog collection project in the world and is directly contributing to poverty alleviation in the country. The project is partly funded by USAID in Rabat, Morocco. Sustained foreign aid from the U.S. is integral to the organization’s continued success. CloudFishing has a positive impact on women in the community who now have more time to devote to pursuing economic activities to help them rise out of poverty. Sustainable access to water also allows poor farmers to have more stable livelihoods and escape the cycle of poverty in Morocco.

Looking Forward

While clean water is a human right recognized by a number of international organizations and countries, in water-scarce Morocco it has become a luxury. Dar Si Hmad is continuing its work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and is preparing to build two new CloudFishers to provide water to 12 additional rural villages in Morocco. Dar Si Hmad plays an integral role in providing solutions like CloudFishing to combat poverty and water scarcity in Morocco.

– Leah Bordlee
Photo: Flickr