By Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir - President of the High Atlas Foundation
Community Planning of Cooperative
The Commune of Toukal of the Taroudant Province of Morocco formally transferred the rights to the land (contract attached) for the infrastructure and agricultural activities to support the establishment of their first Cooperative for women and girls. This project proposal seeks partnering support to implement the rural Cooperative whose Members include up to 610 women and girls from 304 households of 12 villages of the Tifnoute Valley with a combined population of 2,800 people. The Cooperative’s economic and educational programs are in:
Agriculture development (fruit tree nurseries, iris plant and vegetable growing, irrigation infrastructure, and agricultural terrace building) and value-added production (fruit drying) for wholesale domestic markets; and
Training in maintaining fruit tree nurseries, irrigation (with drip system)/clean water basin upkeep, fruit drying and processing, business management, marketing and accounting, participatory development planning and implementation, and literacy.
The project cost of $30,000 (Moroccan dirhams) will create these programs of the Cooperative, which will:
Increase each Members’ average household incomes by at least 200 percent after six years through walnut and cherry planting in the private household orchards of each Member, the sale of fruit trees, and value-added activities;
Prevent dangerous levels of mountain erosion through constructing agricultural terraces and preserve the natural resources of the neighboring Toubkal National Park by decreasing local people’s dependence on them and preventing their depletion through creating new sources of income; and
Develop professional, technical, and social skills of its Members, and create the long-term basis for women’s and girls’ participation in development and community decision-making, as well as empowerment and involvement in broader political processes.
This project applies participatory planning activities in its design process and in all project phases, which is a key feature in gender-based projects worldwide and in Morocco’s national framework to advance the socio-economic status and democratic participation of women and girls. Since 2009, community meetings facilitated by the High Atlas Foundation among women and men (in separate gathering spaces) in the 12 villages have been taking place, during which constraints and opportunities for gender planning have been identified in a non-threatening way. The broad-based support among women and men for the proposed Cooperative grew as a result of the participatory approach, which built social cohesion and local people’s skills to analyze their situation, reach consensus, make decisions, and take action to improve their circumstances. The Cooperative will create more equitable and sustainable development by increasing control over newly generated resources by local women, whose social and economic marginalization has a negative impact on the immediate family and the wider community.
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