Gender Equality in MoroccoNGO Santé Sud launched the 3inaya project with the aim of promoting sexual health care and gender equality in Morocco, as well as changing attitudes in the country. Santé Sud is a French organization working in France and internationally, promoting access for all to quality health care. It assists local organizations to improve long-lasting health care systems and restructuring. The 3inaya project is currently projected to run from 2022 to 2024 and has already begun to make strides in improving training and support for victims of gender-based violence.

Gender Equality in Morocco

Regarding the current situation of gender equality in Morocco, Franceline Toe Bouda, Committee Expert and Reporteur commended the country for making progress in accord with their Family Code. However, it was also “noted that the maternal mortality rate in rural areas (over 100 deaths per 100,000 births) was far higher than in urban areas (around 11 per 100,000).” This signifies that there are still areas of improvement in women’s health care and that whilst making strides in urban and more metropolitan areas, more emphasis is necessary in rural areas.

Gender-based violence is sadly prevalent in Morocco, with a report that the High Planning Commission published stating that “the number of victims who experienced at least one act of violence fell from 63% to 57% between 2009 and 2019,” despite being a drop is still a very high statistic. The survey looked at women aged 18 to 64 years, however, didn’t review cyber-harassment or violence.

In 2018, the Moroccan Ministry of Education focused on promoting gender equality by supporting the implementation of a Medium-term Strategic Action Plan. The plan aimed to normalize gender equality in the Moroccan education system through “the dissemination of a positive and objective image of women through the diffusion of knowledge” and “the adoption of a quota for female representation greater than or equal to 30% (aiming for parity) in the statutes and laws governing both education and trade unions” among other goals.

How Will the 3inaya Project Help?

The 3inaya project aims “to promote gender equality and sexual health through educating and raising awareness among individuals.” This strategy extends not only to women but also men and young people to change social norms.

President of LDDF-Injad Network, Najia Tazrout has expressed her desire for widespread education, “arguing that violence against women remains persistent” and “that there is a sense of “normalization and justification” of violence in the country,” Morocco World News reports.

The main action points of the 3inaya project are to train teachers to be able to identify violence toward victims by creating training modules on “sexual health, rights and gender” in higher education such as universities. They have also decided to train health professionals such as nurses and doctors to be able to identify, screen, and care for women victims of violence. Additionally, they intend of training health professionals and social workers in psychological support for sexual assault survivors.

So far, the program has supported “4,500 women and child survivors” of gender-based violence. The project has also trained “12 CSOs from the Réseau Femmes Solidaires, 60 teachers, 90 health professionals, six social workers and the media,” according to Santé Sud.

Improvements and changes that Santé Sud has been making through the 3inaya project promise to show results and make a significant difference in gender equality in Morocco and how the country approaches reducing gender-based violence and stigmatization of victims.

– Priya Maiti
Photo: Flickr

Disability and Poverty in MoroccoDisability and poverty in Morocco are interlinked. In general, research indicates that poverty and disability are interconnected: poverty creates conditions that increase the risk of disability and disability can cause poverty. Disability exacerbates poverty in that it leads to job losses and difficulties securing employment and accessing education opportunities. As a result of health care expenses and other specialized needs, people with disabilities also experience high living costs. Conditions of impoverishment may also contribute to poor health outcomes, increasing the likelihood of disability. Limited health care among impoverished people increases disability susceptibility. Nonetheless, organizations such as Humanity & Inclusion are working to address these issues, attempting to prevent the growth of poverty in Morocco.

Disability Statistics in Morocco

Census data from 2014 indicates that 4.1% of Morocco’s population had disabilities at the time, equating to more than 1.3 million people. The 2014 data also shows that about 15% of disabled people had a primary school education and 73% of disabled people had not completed any schooling at all. Moreover, 8.5% gained a secondary level education and only 1.5% reached a higher level of education. These statistics highlight the urgency of making education more accessible for those with special needs.

A study led by Abderrazak Hajjioui utilizes data from a national survey conducted in 2014 with about 47,000 adult participants. The study notes an 85% increase in the prevalence of disability from 2004 to 2014, however, this is likely because the 2014 survey uses a “larger screening spectrum of disabilities.” The study found that 9.5% of the surveyed Moroccan population had a disability of some kind. The study noted “a 2.6% prevalence rate of moderate-to-extreme disability, corresponding to 56,323 persons, when extrapolated to the Moroccan adult population.”

The study says the “prevalence of disability was inversely proportional to educational level and significantly higher among unemployed persons.” Of note, in Casablanca, the most economically advanced area in Morocco with the most medical service provision, the prevalence of disability is the lowest.

Poverty in Morocco

From 2001 to 2014, poverty significantly decreased in Morocco — monetary poverty reduced to 4.8%, the World Bank says. Furthermore, consumption per capita expanded at a yearly rate of 3.3%. However, there are still disparities between urban and rural areas. In urban areas, household consumption grew faster than in rural areas from 2007 to 2014. Therefore, urban poverty rates noted more significant decreases than rural areas.

Moreover, a substantial difference in access to health care services remains. Morocco’s health workers are unevenly distributed between rural and urban areas. Using 2016 data, a Policy Center for the New South (PCNS) paper shows the lack of health specialists in certain areas in Morocco. In some areas, the number of doctors does not correspond to high population numbers, especially in rural communities.

Efforts to Empower Disabled People

Humanity & Inclusion is an NGO that began its work in Morocco in 1993 in partnership with local disability organizations. The organization aims to “promote the inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in society.” The organization has five focal areas: financial inclusion, rehabilitative services, inclusive education and humanitarian efforts that do not exclude those with disabilities. In terms of inclusive education, Humanity & Inclusion’s efforts include “supporting the education of children with disabilities in mainstream schools” and “developing teaching techniques and methods to be inclusive and adapted to disabled children,” its website says.

Morocco’s Minister of Solidarity, Integration and Family, Aouatif Hayar, announced in June 2022 that the department is developing “a new disability assessment system” that will guide Morocco in improving the lives of those with disabilities. Based on “medical and social dimensions of disability,” the system will determine the type and extent of disability and the “rehabilitation, educational or medical programs” suitable for the individual.

By acknowledging the connection between disability and poverty in Morocco, the Moroccan government can
help to improve conditions for people with disabilities.

– Olga Petrovska
Photo: Flickr

Addressing Tree Inequality is Key to Achieving the SDGs
People surviving on less than $1.90 daily live in extreme poverty, which accounts for 9.2% of the global population in line with a 2021 World Vision report. With worldwide disruptions to economic activity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, progress against global inequality is continuously under threat, especially as 97 million more individuals fell into extreme poverty in 2020 the World Bank testified. A 2020 ForestNation report has revealed a causal relationship between tree canopy and income, stating a clear association between high income and green-rich areas. One can see this trend on the island of Montreal, highlighting an apparent discrepancy between the prosperous Town of Mount Royal and a low-income neighborhood, Parc-Extension.

According to a 2021 CBC News Analysis of City of Montreal and Census Data, the average household income for the former accounts for $110,000, equating to 30% tree cover. Meanwhile, the latter assumes a median income ranging from $32,000 to $40,000 with only 6%-15% tree cover.

Addressing Tree Inequality is Key to Achieving the SDGs

Planting trees in both rural and urban areas strengthens the world’s economic systems by introducing new opportunities for employment and trade. The timber sector validates this, generating worldwide economic contributions worth $600 billion, equivalent to 1% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while also providing a total of 54.2 million formal and informal employment opportunities as per the World Bank.

According to the Global Assistance Report, trees provide valuable nutritional support necessary for eradicating food insecurity. One billion of the world’s population relies on forests to secure food, with women and children resembling an unprecedented share. This illustrates how addressing tree inequality is key to achieving the SDGs via reducing inequality and hunger and improving human welfare, livelihood and food security.

Trees help improve agriculture by creating an environment favorable for growing crops. By regulating the temperature and improving moisture, trees reduce soil salinization and make crops less sensitive to weather fluctuations and especially violent winds. Recognizing that agriculture assumes an essential role in enhancing worldwide economic development, accounting for 4% of global GDP according to the World Bank, this highlights one way how addressing tree inequality is key to achieving the SDGs by attaining economic growth and improved standards of living.

UNICEF defines quality education as access to rudimentary literacy and numeracy skills for every human irrespective of one’s origin. ForestNation shows that planting trees can improve a student’s cognition and linguistic, scientific and mathematical proficiency. Trees can widen students’ knowledge of environmental and ecological matters, as well as spark curiosity and innovation amongst them, which illustrates the positive ramifications of expanding access to trees in education.

Positive Work Across the Globe

Several organizations have launched various worldwide efforts to lead reforestation. Since 2015, ForestNation, a for-profit sustainable business, has aided Tanzania in planting trees across the country. Today, the number of trees that the business planted exceeds 1 million, which brings eminent contributions to Tanzania’s wealth. For example, every 100 fully grown fruit-bearing trees including mangos and bananas generate around $173 in income. Knowing that agriculture represents one-quarter of Tanzania’s GDP, indicates significant economic development within the country.

In Morocco, the country sought to lead an initiative to overcome the country’s susceptibility to drought, collaborating with civil society, the government aims to plant 800,000 trees by 2024 in varying parts of the country. Such a partnership aims to reinforce the agricultural sector’s strength and provide food sources necessary for socioeconomic development, particularly since agriculture assumes 30% of Morocco’s employment and 20% of GDP.

To build inclusive development among rural and urban areas across Turkmenistan, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) aided a tree planting campaign on the national level. Following training sessions that USAID funded, and with support from several local community, private sector and administrator representatives, around 5,000 fruit-bearing tree seedlings have undergone implementation in two different project areas. Such a sustainable endeavor plays an important role in developing Turkmenistan’s agriculture and widens its income sources according to the UNDP.

Overall, tree equality has proven effective in enabling the world to stay on track to achieving the SDGs by 2030, as the positive impact of trees can trickle down from addressing poverty to other SDGs.

– Noor Al-Zubi
Photo: Flickr

Water in MoroccoDrought has limited access to water in Morocco. In March 2022, Morocco experienced its “worst drought in 40 years.” Since September 2021, reservoirs in Morocco have only received 11% of typical yearly rainfall, according to Moroccan authorities. Droughts in Morocco are not uncommon, but the current drought is so major that it poses a threat to the water supply in Moroccan cities. In an attempt to put an end to this water scarcity, Morocco’s National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) has drafted and started construction on a project in Marrakech, under the National Program for the Supply of Drinking water and Irrigation 2020-2027 that seeks to build dams inside the country to efficiently distribute water throughout Morocco.

The Blueprints

The National Program for the Supply of Drinking water and Irrigation 2020-2027 aims to “accelerate investments in order to strengthen the supply of drinking water and irrigation,” and thus, increase the nation’s resilience when facing droughts. The plan includes the construction of dams, with a special focus on providing water relief to rural areas.

As of June 2022, ONEE is overseeing the construction of a pipeline that will efficiently allocate water in Morocco’s most populous city, Casablanca. The project is separated into two stages. The first stage involves installing a pipeline that is roughly 4.5 miles long and goes from North Casablanca to the Médiouna distribution reservoir in Southern Casablanca. The goal of the pipeline is to “ensure optimal management of the available water resources at the Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah dam and the Oum Er Rbiaa basin.”

The second phase of the project intends to use a booster station to expand the pipeline velocity to 2,500 liters per second from the current velocity of 1,550 liters per second. Expansions of the pipeline plans to extend an additional 4.4 miles to Casablanca’s Bouskoura reservoir in the southern region. The cost of the pipeline for phase one is around €18 million and the second phase will cost the city an additional €12 million. ONEE foresees the completion of the second phase by July 2023.

ONEE received approval from the government to build multiple dams in the country’s Marrakech region back in 2020 and began construction in March 2022. This project has cost the country roughly $256 million and is receiving funding from the African Development Bank under the African Finance Corporation.

The goal of the project is to raise the number of major dams in Morocco from 145 to 179. The current focal point of the project is the Al Massira Dam “where a settling station, a treatment station, three pumping stations and several reservoirs with a total capacity of 93,000 cubic meters will be installed.”

The Importance of Change

The Moroccan economy tends to falter during times of droughts. Due to drought, agricultural output in Morocco reduced by 17.3% since 2021. It is expected that in 2022 Morocco’s poverty rate will remain stagnant at its current rate of 2.5% due to inflation in food and goods and the drought’s toll on agricultural production.

Due to the powerful effects that the current drought has on the country, efforts toward making water in Morocco more accessible are imperative.

– Luke Sherrill
Photo: Flickr

Renewable energy in MoroccoMorocco has long been considered the jewel in the crown of African nations in its substantial effort in the transition to renewable, green energy. The North African country currently relies on green energy for 37% of its national usage. It has taken strong strides to alleviate its dependence on fossil fuels. To replicate this success for the continent, the African Development Bank (AfDB) is pursuing investment for regional interconnected green energy projects.

Morocco’s Commitment to a Greener Future

Morocco’s recent innovations have only been possible through a manageable scheme of commitments in transitioning to renewable, green energy production.  The Ouarzazate Solar Power Plant is one stand-out achievement. It is the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world to date.

Today Morocco’s access to electricity is at a monumental 100% nationwide. This success was spearheaded by the actions taken by the Moroccan government, particularly in the the 1990s.  It recognized the alarming state of energy poverty, especially in the rural demographic. Through these actions, the access to electricity has continuously increased, providing the necessary power to reach remote communities, and providing the most basic needs like improved access to water.

Of course, significant outside investment enabled these substantial advancements in Morocco’s renewable energy. For example, in 2012  the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy and ACWA Power signed a contract that promised $900 million to initiate the first project at Quarzazate. Since then, Morocco has continued to lay the foundation for future sustainable projects. Morocco is planning to increase its share of renewables to 52% by 2030, 70% by 2040 and 80% by 2050.  

COVID-19 Hurts African Access to Electricity

Unfortunately, Africa’s energy production does not reflect Morocco’s innovation and future security with renewable energy.  Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, struggles to provide reliable electricity to its more than a billion inhabitants.  Further, after making some strides from 2015 – 2019 to increase electric accessibility by 9%, COVID-19 squashed that progress. Specifically, Africa follows the global trend of losing momentum in reducing energy since 2020 due to COVID-19’s disruption. According to the International Energy Association, “Sub-Saharan Africa’s share of the global population without access to electricity rose to 77% from 74% before the pandemic.” 

African Development Bank Pushes Renewables

A lack of investment in renewable energy projects across Africa is central to continued energy poverty. That’s why in a bid to kick-start future renewable green energy investment across the continent, the AfDB has made clear its intentions to bolster its partnership with China for investment in the renewable energy sector. China is investing in the Africa Growing Together Fund for energy and infrastructure projects.

Daniel Schroth, Director of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Department of AfDB, emphasizes that the African continent has a wealth of renewable potential in solar, wind, geothermal and wind. He advocates for an integrated system because as he notes, “The sun might not be shining in one part but not in other parts. The wind might be blowing in one part but not in the other parts. If you integrate them into one system, you can balance the power use. And so AfDB puts a strong emphasis on critical regional interconnection projects.”

This strengthening of ties represents just one of the commitments that the AfDB expects to deliver. In 2021, it announced the second phase of its Desert to Power initiative, which aims to provide electricity to 250 million people by the year 2030.  As stated in its executive summary, the project strives to, “harness the vast solar power potential across the Sahel region to provide access to electricity and enable socio-economic development as well as resilience in the region.”

Looking Forward

Despite COVID-19 setbacks, it is clear that Africa is ramping up its renewable energy pursuit through programs such as AfDB’s Desert to Power and through courting investors such as China. This drive, influenced by the successful renewable energy program in Morocco, should make significant strides in reducing energy poverty across the continent.

– Jamie Garwood
Photo: Flickr

Planting Fruit Trees in Morocco
Due to its geographical location, Morocco is susceptible to long periods of droughts and water shortages. The Moroccan government partnered with civil society to plant 800,000 trees by 2024 to improve climate issues and agriculture. As a country that experienced the unemployment rate rising to 12.3% in 2021, planting fruit trees in Morocco is one of the solutions to boost its economy by creating an oasis in the desert.

Reforestation in Morocco and its Benefits

Fruit tree planting in Morocco can reduce poverty by providing income for local farmers. There is a wide variety of fruit trees in the country ranging from olives, argan and dates to carob, cashew nuts and more. Its shallow, rocky soils and Mediterranean climate are perfect for these fruits to grow.

For example, the planting of argan trees has played an important role in improving the Moroccan economy. Argan extracted from the trees goes toward producing argan oil, which is rich in fatty acids and antioxidants and is designed for culinary, cosmetic and medicinal purposes. The demand for Moroccan argan oil is growing; the market for argan oil is expected to reach $262.4 million by 2025.

According to The National Agency for the Development of Oasis and Argan Zones, “The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of oases and argan trees in Morocco increased from MAD 84 billion to MAD 129 billion (€7.88 billion to €12.1 billion) between 2009 and 2018.”

In addition, locals are able to receive jobs from the reforestation. It was uncommon for women in Morocco to work outside. However, to keep up with the growing business of argan from the planting argan trees, local women joined and changed the social perception about women’s roles within the society, improving the livelihoods of women in the region.

Charrouf, who established a movement of women cooperatives, told CNN how local women’s lives improved after the business. “Before they didn’t get any money, but now they have at least €100 ($108) per month,” she said. And they were very grateful because their children were finally able to receive an education by earning a decent wage.

Tree Planting Programs in Morocco

Two major organizations are providing programs related to planting fruit trees in Morocco. This ensures sustainable development and helps expedite the growth of its economy.

  • Reforest’Action — In 2017, it started running several projects with the Ibn Al Baytar Association across Morocco with the objective of promoting economic development through harvesting organic fruits. The organization made significant progress during the planting season from 2020 to 2021. It also helps raise awareness of planting fruit trees among local communities through participatory planting sessions.
  • High Atlas Foundation (HAF) — HAF assists local families by planting fruit trees through collaboration with communities. According to the HAF report published in 2021, “HAF-community collaboration has planted 700,000 trees of nine fruit varieties, with 6,000 farming families in 39 provinces.” The collaboration also planted 1.6 million seeds in 13 nurseries located in eight provinces.

Planting fruit trees in Morocco has brought economic benefits in a sustainable way. Local farmers and communities are able to generate income and enjoy self-sustainability through the programs assisted by the organizations. In the middle of the desert, an oasis is growing and benefiting the nation.

– Jiaying Guo
Photo: Flickr

Health Insurance in Morocco
By the end of 2021, health insurance in Morocco covered 11 million citizens. With the final count of covered citizens, the Moroccan government announced its expansion of health insurance to unconsidered sector workers. The number of protected citizens will grow in 2022 as proposals are under review to expand health insurance to uncovered workers, such as artisans, taxi drivers, farmers and more.

Morocco’s Health Insurance System

Morocco’s health insurance system is a mixture of government-run and privately owned insurance businesses. Most in Morocco have coverage through the primary source of health insurance. This is the Mandatory Health Insurance, L’Assurance Maladie Obligatoire (AMO).

Morocco implemented its first health care policy in 1959 and established free health services in the public sector. After 1959, the Moroccan health care system went through various changes. However, in 2005, it established and stabilized with the implementation of new programs to regulate and differentiate between the private and public health insurance systems.

In 2005, the Moroccan government created a mandatory, payroll-based health insurance plan that increased coverage from 16% of the Moroccan population to 30%. The payroll-based system is the AMO. The AMO covers the costs of general medicine and medical and surgical specialties, pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal care, laboratory tests, radiology and medical imaging, optical care, oral health treatment and paramedics.

The Regime d’Assistance Medicale (RAMED)

The second insurance policy that Morocco implemented is the Regime d’Assistance Medicale (RAMED). RAMED is a public, government-financed program to fund insurance for those living in poverty and without the income needed to access the AMO.

The private insurance sector, which people often choose simply due to availability, is a system based on a fee-for-service policy. For whatever the service may be, private insurance requires the individual to pay a minimum of 20% of the fees due. However, fees sometimes range as high as 50%.

Morocco’s health insurance system guarantees free care to anyone. However, it is specifically free for anyone living in poverty at any clinic that Morocco’s government runs, as long as the clinics obtain a certificat d’indigence. Thankfully, the poverty rate in Morocco is as low as 3.6%. However, health care remains concentrated in the cities leaving the rural population without easy access to health care.

The rural population often remains uncovered and without the funds to be a part of the private insurance operations. The impending health insurance expansion promises to cover the rural workers. This will ease the economic burden of health insurance from their income.

Impending Expansion of the System

The expansion to cover more workers is not the first one the government has made since 2019. In 2020, the Moroccan government expanded its health insurance system to cover all costs, for every citizen, for COVID-19 treatment. The treatment coverage is available through the AMO.

Morocco’s health insurance system will expand pending the implementation of six drafted policy proposals. The overarching plan for Morocco’s health insurance system is to generalize all health insurance for uncovered workers. The first step in this plan is the creation of coverage beginning with the farmers in the outlying reaches of Morocco, the taxi drivers in the cities and the artisans spread around the country.

The Need for Health Insurance in Rural Communities in Morocco

Morocco’s rural and farming areas are often unconsidered, with doctors and clinics needing to open in said rural areas. The average salary of a Moroccan farmer is 11,700 Moroccan Dirham (MAD) per month, which translates to slightly more than $1,200.

Unfortunately, since the AMO did not cover the farmers, the farmers were often unable to afford private insurance due to having little income to spare. Therefore, with the flexibility of the cost of services due, the farmers could not risk paying anything that might exceed their income.

The Single Professional Contribution System (SPC)

The farmers are only one of the groups that will benefit from the expanded insurance availability. The Moroccan health insurance system’s expansion also covers artisans, who are part of the Single Professional Contribution system (SPC). The SPC allows workers reliant on a flat rate of income to pay fixed taxes and receive health insurance under the new expansion.

The workers who are part of the SPC do not have high incomes and often live on less than the living minimum wage. Much like the farmers, the AMO would not consider them, leaving them unable to afford the private insurance system.

The Moroccan health insurance system’s expansion allows access to basic health care that many could not access before. The government is increasing the annual amount spent on health care as well. The private and public systems will receive additional funding to hire more doctors. Hopefully, more clinics will open in the rural areas to help these newly insured farmers and rural dwellers.

The Moroccan health insurance system will help both the individual and the public. Expanded health insurance could reduce debt, both health-related and non-health-related. It could permit more opportunities to spend money in the local economy.

Increased economic flow can increase income and wages for all business sectors, including the lower-paid individuals, like the farmers. It can also decrease the poverty rate and the number of individuals at risk of poverty.

– Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Pixabay

Children in Morocco have turned tragedy into new beginnings. Sami’s Project, named after a young Moroccan student who died of cancer, has mobilized thousands of students across Morocco to plant fruit trees in rural communities. Since 2011, Moroccan children have planted 35,000 trees across the country through Sami’s Project while gaining agricultural management skills. Centered in the rural province Essaouira, the project aims to supply students with the resources and curriculum necessary to plant and manage fruit trees and botanical gardens. In 2018 alone, 19,000 children mobilized to plant trees across 23 provinces in Morocco. The goal of the project is not simply to reforest Morocco. The group also works toward a larger impact on national poverty reduction.

Decreasing Food Insecurity in Rural Communities

By planting fruit trees, the project directly improves food security in rural provinces. Over the last two decades, Morocco has drastically reduced the prevalence of multidimensional poverty from 58.9% in 1998 to 3.6% in 2021. Within that last 3.6%, 80% of those still living in poverty live in rural communities. By planting fruit trees in rural communities, the organization directly increases food supplies to populations that poverty most impacts.

Planting fruit trees in these communities has economic and ecological benefits, outside of food production. By improving native biodiversity through fruit tree planting, the project works to decrease soil erosion in arid regions. This has the potential to increase the amount of arable land in rural agricultural communities. In Morocco, 80% of agricultural land is currently at threat of desertification. Planting trees and increasing green spaces improve the resiliency of land and slow the process of desertification. According to Sustainable Food Trust, more than half of the active workforce in Morocco works in agriculture. Therefore, Sami’s Project works toward protecting both job security and food production.

Future Building Through Youth Outreach

Auxilary to providing fruit trees, Sami’s Project also provides teachers in rural Morocco with a curriculum that teaches sustainable nursery management. The project gives teachers the ability to equip their students with organic certification training, product management skills and hands-on business development skills.

Through the project, children build and manage fruit tree nurseries and botanical gardens. By developing these skills through a sustainable and organic curriculum, the children build a base for becoming more competitive agriculturalists. The project then sells the food it produces to the local communities, simultaneously increasing local food security and bringing in revenue for the schools, according to High Atlas Foundation.

Improving Education Infrastructure

Finally, the organization uses the funds to improve school infrastructure. Sami’s Project funds clean drinking water systems and improves sanitation infrastructure. Through the project, clean water systems and bathrooms have undergone construction in 12 schools in rural Morocco, as High Atlas Foundation reports. The goal is to increase access to education for children in Morocco and ensure students have access to basic necessities while at school.

By equipping teachers and students with fruit trees, Sami’s project has increased food security for rural communities. It has also improved education infrastructure and given children in Morocco the skills to grow into agriculturalists.

– Aiden Smith
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in MoroccoWhile human trafficking in Morocco persists, this small North African country is working to end it. The U.S. Department of State identifies Morocco as a Tier 2 country, meaning it has taken steps to eliminate human trafficking but it does not yet meet minimum standards. In 2016, Morocco enacted an anti-trafficking law, laying the groundwork to tackle this issue. Morocco addresses human trafficking in a variety of ways, including partnering with organizations that spread awareness, providing resources to victims and preventing future trafficking.

Types of Human Trafficking in Morocco

Human trafficking in Morocco includes unpaid domestic labor, forced begging and sexual exploitation. Children can become victims when their families, usually from low-income backgrounds, send them away to work. Boys often become agricultural laborers or work in trades such as carpentry or mechanics. Meanwhile, girls typically work as domestic servants or experience exploitation through sex trafficking. Despite Morocco’s child labor law and a 2018 law that specifically protects domestic workers, employers frequently pay these children far below minimum wage and abuse them. Traffickers also force migrants into sex work and other types of labor. Morocco’s major cities are destinations for “sex tourists” from Europe and the Middle East who take advantage of trafficked women and children.

Who are the Victims?

The U.S. Department of State reported that, in 2020, Morocco identified 441 trafficking victims and referred them to care. Of these reported victims, 245 were female, 196 were male, 398 were adults and 43 were children. The majority (426) were Moroccan citizens, although migrants from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia were also vulnerable. Some migrant human trafficking victims may have gone unidentified.

Families who are struggling economically contribute to trafficking by taking children out of school and sending them to work, where they often experience exploitation. Traffickers also frequently target migrants, some of whom are undocumented and are passing through Morocco en route to Europe. The U.S. Department of State reported that traffickers who abuse migrants often come from the same countries as their victims. Traffickers may use physical and emotional abuse or withhold migrants’ passports to keep them in servitude.

How Morocco is Addressing Human Trafficking

In 2016, Morocco enacted Law No. 27.14. This law defines human trafficking victims as well as human trafficking crimes and their penalties. Under this law, the government provides victims with medical and psychological assistance as well as free legal aid. Morocco’s anti-trafficking law also created a national commission to stop human trafficking and prevent future cases from occurring.

In addition to policy changes, Morocco addresses human trafficking by working with organizations locally and abroad. SAVE, which stands for Soutien à l’identification et l’accompagnement des Victimes de Traite des êtres Humains, is a three-year project that aims to identify and support trafficking victims in Morocco. In 2019, the French nonprofit CCEM founded SAVE, which the European Union funds. SAVE partners with the Moroccan government and several Moroccan nonprofits. The goals of the project include receiving at least 500 trafficking reports and identifying a minimum of 100 victims by 2022. It also hopes to share best practices with other nations in the region.

Moving Forward

While Morocco has made progress in ending human trafficking, more work is necessary. According to the U.S. Department of State, Morocco’s efforts in prosecuting and convicting human trafficking cases have decreased. Additionally, migrant trafficking victims still receive unfair punishment for crimes, such as immigration violations and prostitution, that traffickers forced them to commit. The U.S. Department of State’s recommendations include establishing systemized procedures to identify victims, especially migrants, separating data on human trafficking and migrant smuggling crimes and providing training on Morocco’s anti-trafficking law.

In an interview with U.N. Women, Amina Oufroukhi, president of the International Judicial Cooperation Department, noted that victims are often afraid to seek help, making identifying human trafficking difficult. To address this problem, Oufroukhi has helped create a network of prosecutors who have training in victim identification and established a Moroccan public awareness campaign. She is also working on a guide that will help prosecutors better apply Morocco’s anti-trafficking law. Oufroukhi further hopes the government and organizations will continue to build trust with those affected and that more research on human trafficking and migration in Morocco will occur.

Human trafficking continues to plague Morocco. However, efforts by the government as well as organizations working on the ground have made great strides in protecting the rights of victims and preventing future exploitation and abuse. As Morocco addresses human trafficking with a diverse set of invested stakeholders, there is hope that its most vulnerable populations will eventually live in freedom.

Annie Prafcke
Photo: Flickr

education system in MoroccoThe education system in Morocco has struggled for decades. In part, this is due to historical turmoil involving education accessibility. However, Morocco has recently taken a new approach to reverse this damage and improve its education system.

The “Decade of Education”

In 1999, Mohammed VI became the king of Morocco. He deemed education one of the main sectors in need of immediate action. Therefore, the years 1999 to 2009 were named the “decade of education.” During this time, reforms would take place under new guidelines, with the main goals to decrease illiteracy and upgrade the quality of learning. In addition, King Mohammed VI pledged to enhance private education and fight gender-based inequality.

The monarch’s involvement also resulted in a restructuring of the curriculum. To do this, King Mohammed VI replaced five years of primary and seven years of secondary education with nine years of the former and three years of the latter. He also introduced books that contained pedagogical principles.

These lessons targeted students’ needs and increased critical thinking skills. Through this reformed method of education, children learned how to develop a democratic mindset and thus the importance of human rights through science, technological and educational advances.

The Education Revolution

This new curriculum involved information technology studies and the integration of new subjects. Courses such as “Introduction to Education for Citizenship” in primary school, adding French and Amazigh language classes to the curriculum were all improvements to the former education system in Morocco. Exam schedules to ensure fairness and quality were revised and additional training in technology was provided to teachers. Overall, the changes during the Decade of Education shifted the way Morocco’s schools were administered. However, work to ensure the brightest future for Morocco’s children was still needed.

New Education Strategy Vision 2030

In 2014, the Minister of Education proposed additional revisions for the education system in Morrocco. In this vision, titled “New School for the citizen of tomorrow” the new education system allowed schools to appropriately provide all students with a high-quality education. The program allowed for increased Arabic classes, foreign language courses and learning vocational training.

Moreover, the project focused on encouraging openness and skill-building. With these overall advances, achieving greater  levels of education and the encouragment entrepreneurship allowed Morocco’s youth to learn important life skills. The ministry will also open centers for languages, culture and sports. The Ministry declared that during 2011-2012 and 2014-2015, there was an increase of more than 325,000 students enrolled in public and private schools.

In 2019,  The World Bank announced that it would contribute $500 million to the 2030 project. The grant will allow Morocco to extend access to quality education, especially pre-primary schools. It will also significantly increase teachers’ skills and competencies as improving human capital for children.

Hmemsa Organization: Education Program

Another group aiming to improve the education system in Morocco is Hmemsa. This organization is a successful Moroccan non-profit in the United States. Its main goal is to help low-income Moroccan households with essential needs and social issues. In an interview with The Borgen Project, Wafa Bennani was able to share more of the organization’s aspirations and achievements.

Bennani shared that currently, the Hmemsa organization is sponsoring two education programs. The first program involves exchanging engineering expertise with American students. Thus, Hmemsa is cooperating with the American Society of Engineering Education and other universities in Morocco to engage in an ASEE universal seminar in Morocco.

The second program is dedicated to orphans and impoverished children. Hmemsa’s Orphan Education Program is teaming up with the “Kafala Tifl Association” in Morocco to support and assist vulnerable children ages 5 to 18. The program has helped alleviate the financial burden of education from impoverished families and orphanages by providing children with necessary school supplies. Overall, the Orphans’ sponsorship program consists of $500 a year toward a child’s education.

Hmemsa’s Success Stories

Bennani also explained that the organization has been working with two orphanages in Meknes and Fez for more than 6 years now. They are planning to extend the program to include different orphanages in other cities as well. Success from Hmemsa’s work has been plentiful so far. Bennani expressed that two orphans have recently graduated high school with excellent overall grades. Additionally, Hmemsa sponsored one of the students to visit the U.S. and learn English at Western University. After this experience, the student went back to Morocco and secured a high-paying job.

Bennani also explained that when it comes to the challenges, mental health in orphanages is an issue Hmemsa sees frequently. With a shortage of special needs education, Hmemsa is looking for ways to provide counseling therapists and added support. With previous success in advocating for action against PKU, they are optimistic about their efforts in mental health advocacy.

Education and Poverty’s Future

In recent years, Morroco has made enormous efforts to boost its education system and make it accessible for all children. From the “decade of education” strategy to the 2030 vision, Morocco has always been striving for a better way to educate its children. With the help of The World Bank and non-profit organizations like the Hmemesa organization, the education system in Morocco is significantly enhancing education for all Moroccans.

– Zineb Williams
Photo: Flickr