In September 2011 to December 20011, a hands-on training program was conducted (in the Toubkal Commune, Taroudant Province of Morocco) to teach facilitation skills in participatory development planning to local community members and leaders.
During the course of this training, participatory community planning and development activities were carried out with five village-communities of the Tifnoute Valley. Field facilitators of the community meetings (who were “trainees” of this program) included 15 community members, who were supervised by HAF’s project and training manager, Abderrahim Ouarghidi.
The Men’s Groups: Building on prior community meetings, the men’s groups identified fruit tree agriculture among their top development priority, and planning meetings that took place during this report period focused on which fruit tree was most viable (environmentally and economically) for their area, and also how most efficiently can they meet their high demand for fruit trees. During the community meetings in two villages (Tiddildai and Missour), men utilized the participatory method called – pair-wise ranking – to help them identify the fruit trees most viable for their area. The pair-wise method helps groups to discover opportunities available to them, and what limits may exist – in this case, relative to the type of fruit tree. The activity is called “pair-wise” because communities compare the importance of each single idea with each other idea. Approximately 60 men from the two villages participated in the community meetings.
The field facilitators first worked with small groups as they completed their own matrix and created a ranking list of preferences. Then, that information was inserted into a community wide matrix, which all the men together worked through. The facilitators needed to make sure that all voices were heard as people stated their ideas as to the relative important of different options. Considerable amount of information was generated during these discussions, which facilitators needed to consider and record. The meetings were very helpful and productive field experiences, for both trainees and communities.
Community meetings conducted for this “learning by doing” training in a third village, Agadir, focused heavily on building a community-managed almond tree nursery, whereby saplings are planted for two years and then distributed to the targeted households in the entire Tifnoute Valley (lower laying villages where it is warmer) for their orchards. The total cost of planting 40,000 almond seeds on the land the village identified is approximately $5,000. This project will economically and environmentally significantly benefit 500 households in the Toubkal Commune. Seeds are about 5% the cost of two-year old trees villagers normally purchase, and local people will develop new skills in order to maintain the tree nurseries. The Agadir village is strongly behind this, as is HAF to this agricultural development approach; HAF partners with the Commune to implement this project area.
2. The women’s groups explained, in different ways, that they have either never been to school or left at an early age, and they want to fulfill that need of knowing either by learning how to read and write or by developing other craft-related skills. This exclusion of women and girls from the socio-economic sphere is due to a range of causes, including: limited financial resources within the household; the burden of household chores assigned to young girls, particularly in rural areas; the absence of adequate educational, communication, and transportation infrastructure; and beliefs that prioritize the education of the male child in the family. Personal status codes also discriminate.
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