Yossef Ben-Meir Ph.D., President at the High Atlas Foundation undertaking a Pairwise Ranking training exercise with community members, OCP company volunteers and school directors.
In a world where we create a living from shared resources, live in shared communities and all of our actions have flow-on effects, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is essential. It is also becoming more and more common, and we all know the benefits that CSR can provide. Though how can this be harnessed for sustainable community development?
We have seen a creative solution implemented by the private sector in Morocco. One such example is the OCP Group, which is making ‘human capital’ – their approximately 3,000 employees – available to work for one month in every year for civil society organisations and local community groups.
The incentive for company employees is a paid volunteer experience that releases them from daily duties, and applies their skills for the benefit of both communities and the company in which they work. Companies gain valuable insight into community development challenges, while also flipping power structures by working directly for community groups and placing them in the driving seat.
The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) has worked with companies to conduct training in the ‘participatory approach’ methodology giving company volunteers the tools they need to engage in meaningful and bottom-up development conversations with communities. The methodology provides a means for communities to communicate their needs and then prioritise their solutions (using a ‘Pairwise’ Ranking Assessment and other tools). Through this process communities agree on the highest priority projects and avoid ad hoc project implementation. Top priorities have emerged for many communities as the provision of drinking water, electricity, security and co-curricular resources for schools.
Results of the participatory training with OCP employees with school directors for CSR have so far been extremely promising. A number of projects for community organisations are progressing in a short timeframe with the additional human capital available to them. Expertise can also be committed with a long-term project horizon that transcends short-term funding cycles.
As examples, a number of projects are being developed to provide water pumps to schools in the Marrakech-Safi province, to provide drinking water as soon as possible. Another progression has been the scoping of an organic tree nursery at the Alkhawarizmy Technical High School in Safi aiming to provide applied environmental and agricultural education to students through high-value industries of the future (STEM). This is not only a necessary complement to their electrical and mechanical subject offerings, but may also provide a potential income stream to fund other essential community infrastructure.
Providing human capital for development is a creative solution to CSR, providing a real investment in the form that many rural communities need – personnel and expertise – and not just cold hard cash which on its own may be misdirected.
This is a great strategy for more companies to come forward for the benefit of human development, especially in regions and rural areas where communities are being left behind.
For more information regarding the participatory approach methodology training or working regional communities in Morocco please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Amelia Haigh is a volunteer Proposals Writer for the High Atlas Foundation, Marrakech.
HAF staff, company volunteers and representatives of the Alkhawarizmy Technical High School on a project site visit.