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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

Poverty in MoroccoMorocco is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy in Northern Africa. Using its geographical proximity to Europe, the country is positioning itself to become the trade center of Africa. Combining this with low-cost labor, Morocco is moving toward an open market economy. Mohammed VI, the current sovereign of Morocco, has reigned over a steadily growing economy. However, poverty in Morocco is still a major issue that demands the government’s attention.

An Improving Economy

Morocco’s economy has enjoyed steady growth since 1960. Agriculture, tourism, aerospace, phosphates, textiles and sub-components are some of the major sectors that support the country’s economic expansion. In order to further support their increased industrial development and trade, Morocco built a new port and free trade zone near the city of Tangier. Due to these efforts, Morocco’s GDP rose from 2.03 billion in 1960 to 117.92 billion in 2018. However, even with this massive rise in the country’s GDP, income disparity is still an issue.

Income Inequality in Morocco

Income inequality is one of the main issues that reflects the state of poverty in Morocco. In 2018, the OECD published a report which observed the country’s alarming income inequality. The report found that Morocco’s Gini Coefficient, an index of a country’s income inequality, was the highest of all countries in Northern Africa, at 40.3%. This inequality has far-reaching implications in Morocco. In his interview with Reuters in 2019, Ahmed Lahlimi, the head of Morocco’s official statistics agency, stated that social “disparities often trigger protests because they are viewed as a result of an illegitimate accumulation of wealth.”

A report by Oxfam also found that Morocco’s income inequality has considerable consequences. In the report, Oxfam showed that it would take 154 years for a normal employee to earn what Moroccan billionaires can make in a year. This is especially concerning because an estimated 1.6 million Moroccan citizens live in poverty. Inequality is also made evident by the difference in literacy rates between urban areas and rural areas: as of 2011, urban children were 2.7 times more likely to learn reading skills than those living in rural areas. While the literacy rate in Morocco rose from 69% in 2012 to 73% in 2018, it is clear that more needs to be done to improve the differences between urban and rural access to quality education.

Alleviating Income Inequality

In 2005, King Mohammed VI launched the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), which aims to reduce poverty in Morocco by improving living conditions, assisting vulnerable social groups and supporting Moroccan families. The third phase of INDH, which will last from 2019 to 2023, will use its 1.9 billion dollar budget to improve basic social services and infrastructure around Morocco. As of 2019, the initiative has created 44,000 projects, 17,000 actions and 9,400 income-generating activities in an effort to bridge the inequality gap in Morocco. The country also took on a loan from The World Bank to reduce unemployment in Morocco. The government plans to use the loan to improve private sector employment, human resources, accelerate digitalization and quality of education.

While Morocco’s economy is improving, it is clear that poverty is an issue that still affects many people. Although the developing economy of Morocco improved the lives of many, it also resulted in extreme income disparities. This inequality impacts many citizens, as made apparent by the difference in literacy rates between children in urban and rural areas. Luckily, King Mohammed VI and the Moroccan government have taken measures to alleviate income disparity and poverty in Morocco. With the beginning of INDH’s third phase, many people in Morocco hope for a better future.

– YongJin Yi 
Photo: Flickr

facts about poverty in MoroccoMorocco’s low labor costs and close proximity to Europe has allowed the nation to move towards a diverse market-oriented economy. Despite its economic progress, 4 million Moroccans remain in poverty and live on less than $4 a day. Poverty in Morocco remains an issue.

Recognizing the poverty crisis in Morocco is essential to alleviating it; such a feat is possible through providing facts about poverty in Morocco to the public.

The Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Morocco

  1. Morocco announced the National Human Development Initiative Support Project (INDH) in 2005. The project’s $1 million budget and five-year timeline intended to improve living conditions of citizens, reduce poverty throughout the country, assist vulnerable demographics and support families in dire need.
  2. In 1998, 16.3 percent of Moroccans were considered poor. This number was nearly cut in half by 2007, with only 8.9 percent of Moroccans considered poor. Although the poverty rate was further reduced to 4.2 percent in 2014, over 18 percent of Morocco’s rural population still lived in poverty or were considered vulnerable.
  3. Geographical divides play a major role in Morocco’s poverty; of the 4 million people living in poverty in Morocco, 3 million reside in rural areas.
  4. Reduced poverty rates stem from slowed population growth, remittances from Moroccans living abroad, economic stability and nonprofit organization involvement.
  5. Nearly 19 percent of Morocco’s population lives on less than $4 a day.
  6. Three factors impede Morocco’s development: illiteracy, financial inequality and economic volatility. It is difficult for Moroccans to transition out of poverty with over a quarter of Morocco’s adult population being illiterate. According to the Gini Index — a scale that measures financial inequality from zero (absolute equality) to 100 (absolute inequality) — Morocco sits at 40.7. Morocco’s economy largely depends on agriculture as it accounts for 19 percent of its GDP and 40 percent of jobs. However, Morocco’s agriculture sector is incredibly volatile; only 18 percent of Morocco is arable and this sector is prone to changing weather conditions.
  7. In November 2017, 17 people were killed and over 40 injured in a stampede for food stamps; of the 17 victims, 15 were women. The stampede occurred while a local philanthropist distributed food stamps to needy families in Sidi Boulalam of the Essaouira province.
  8. The Essaouira stampede highlights the suffering Moroccans experience as a result to current drought, increased food costs, skyrocketing unemployment and fixed incomes. Economist and 2015 Nobel Prize-winner Angus Dayton pointed out the role globalization and technology play in creating millions of jobs and subjecting a large number of people to unemployment, which thus widens the gap between the rich and poor.
  9. Improved literacy levels can reduce poverty in Morocco. Not only does education lift families out of poverty, it keeps them from falling back into it. Children who receive an education attain skills that render them a vital component of the workforce.
  10. Promoting volunteering among young change-makers and international organizations is essential to solving the poverty crisis in Morocco. Entrepreneurship could create innovative solutions and accelerate efforts to help those in need.

Future Steps in Morocco

Although Morocco’s economic progress has reduced poverty to some degree, these facts about poverty in Morocco illustrate how the country still suffers from illiteracy, unemployment and poverty. Possible solutions include reforming the government and education system, and time to see what steps Morocco implements next. 

– Carolyn Gibson

Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in Morocco
Poverty in Morocco is a fact of life for many. The name Morocco does not immediately conjure images of destitution. The country has done well as branding itself as an exotic tourist destination, but the country is suffering a significant poverty problem, one that cannot be disguised even to foreigners.

A blogger wrote of her travels in Morocco:

“…from the minute you arrive, the beggars, orphans, story-tellers and snake charmers, all desperately competing to prize a few pennies from the newest tourist’s pockets, not only colourfully line the city’s streets, but paint a picture that poverty, in one of Morocco’s most imperial cities and capital of the south, is depressingly genuine.”

The majority of poverty in Morocco is in rural areas –- according to the Rural Poverty Portal, of the 4 million people living under the poverty line in Morocco, 3 million of them are in rural areas. This may stem from the number of people depending on agriculture as a source of income in a geographically challenging region, as well as a lack of access to resources like water and financial credit and also a low level of training and education.

Morocco has seen vast improvement in its poverty levels in the last two decades, but is still far behind other countries at the same income level. Infant mortality is higher than most lower-middle income countries and total school enrollment and female enrollment are both lower. In rural areas, the vast majority still do not have access to clean water or electricity.

The Moroccan government is indeed working towards alleviating poverty in the country, though recommendations by the world bank have suggested they focus more on improving the agricultural sector as well as targeting services towards the poor and encouraging the better off to use private services.

– Farahnaz Mohammad
Source: UN Post, Rural Poverty Portal, World Bank
Photo: Sanatoy