Young Entrepreneurs Compete for DreamUp Grants in Morocco

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On Saturday, May 20th, Moroccan youth looking to expand or start a new business will compete for small business grants in the Machrou3i DreamUp competition. The competition is organized by the Machrou3i Business Incubators, created through the Near East Foundation’s (NEF) Empowering Youth through Entrepreneurship in Morocco (EYEM) project funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).

Youth in the competition have participated in training and coaching events organized by the Machrou3i incubators to develop their business plans. In the final competition, eight youth will have the opportunity launch their plans with the help of a $2000 project grant, along with ongoing mentoring and coaching through the incubators. Selections will be made by a committee based on a number of criteria including the level of innovation presented in the business concept, the ability of the business to introduce new technologies, well-defined social or environmental benefits, and the ability of the business to eventually create new jobs. 

The DreamUp competition is complemented by a showcase event featuring youth entrepreneurs and businesses launched through the EYEM project.  Organized in partnership Province of El Jadida National Initiative for Human Development, the showcase event in El Jadida (May 19-21, 2017) allows young entrepreneurs to present their products and services to potential customers as well as network with fellow business owners. 

Both events aim to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation among young people in Morocco and to inform young people on the advantages of business incubators and their role in regional youth economic development.

The EYEM project has reached more than 3000 youth in its efforts to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship, provided business development training to more than 349 young people, and funded 251 new businesses with start up assistance.

 

Young Moroccans Launch New Businesses

Group picture EYEM

Yasmina Zaze, a 20-year-old woman, from Safi was born deaf. Due to her challenges and a lack of support from her school, Yasmina had to leave at the end of her primary education. Determined not to let her disability limit her, Yasmina pursued professional training as a beautician and gained experience in the field. In spite of this she was unable to find a job and earn an income of her own—leaving her completely reliant on her parents.

With more than 50 percent of Morocco’s working-age population out of school and out of work, youth unemployment is an increasingly serious concern. Micro and small enterprises play a central role in Morocco’s economy accounting for nearly 94 percent of existing businesses. However, with most of the young employed having a secondary education or less, youth face a number of challenges including: the absence of a strong entrepreneurial culture, access to credit, lack of access to networks, and a lack of personalized coaching and support.

The Near East Foundation (NEF) is addressing this gap by empowering youth through training in entrepreneurship, support through business incubators, and start-up grants to give young professionals in Morocco the tools they need to turn their ideas into viable businesses.

Young women face additional social barriers that prevent their full participation in the formal economic sector.

YasminaThen, Yasmina learned about NEF’s Empowering Youth through Entrepreneurship in Morocco (EYEM) program. “For a long time, I considered opening up my own business,” Yasmina said. “The EYEM program helped me transform my idea into reality.”

With the help of the project’s junior coaches and staff, Yasmina developed a viable business plan and financial strategy that was approved for funding by the project’s selection committee. With the project grant, Yasmina purchased all the materials she needed to open her beauty salon—which launched in July 2016.

“I love my business and I am happy to open the salon every morning,” Yasmina said. “It provides me with flexibility and it makes me more independent financially. My parents are so proud of me now. I am highly motivated in my new stage of life and I have many future plans.”

Yasmina is able to communicate with her clients through signs, and her mother and sister-in-law provide support—especially in taking appointments over the phone. To expand her business model, Yasmina created a space for her sister-in-law who is a hair stylist. While Yasmina provides cosmetology services, her sister-in-law provides hair services in the salon.

Yasmina has ambitious plans for the future of her salon. She will participate in post-business creation training sessions offered through the EYEM project, and is interested in learning about microcredit opportunities and new laws regarding entrepreneurship in Morocco.

Another EYEM participant, Nabil Khalidi, a 24-year-old graduate from the Mohammadia School of Engineering who dreamed of using his skills in electrical engineering to revolutionize smallholder farming in Morocco.

UsiNabil 1ng his skills, Nabil developed a model for a solar-powered irrigation system for small farms. The system delivers the necessary amount of water to each plant, making irrigation more efficient and improving productivity. Through his participation in the EYEM program, Nabil has transformed his model into a business—Agri Energy S.A.R.L.

“The EYEM project helped me to put into reality every idea I had in my mind about energy production and automation,” Nabil said. “The success of this project will help change the way farmers use irrigation. It has the potential to revolutionize the agricultural field in a way that optimizes energy and water consumption, while ensuring the sustainable development that our country is seeking.”

With project support, Nabil developed a professional business plan for his idea and received a small grant of approximately $2000 to launch his enterprise in June 2016. Agri Energy S.A.R.L. develops and installs solar irrigation systems, allowing water to be pumped into remote locations that are beyond the reach of electric power lines. The solar powered system provides an environmentally friendly way to efficiently pump more water for drinking, stock tanks, sanitation, and irrigation.

Nabil 2Nabil installed a pilot plot on his uncle’s farm to test every aspect of the system and ensure reliability. Once fully tested, Nabil will market the system to local farmers. Nabil has estimated that farmers will see a benefit of 4,000 to 20,000 Moroccan dirhams depending on the space and materials used (based on savings in energy, water, and labor costs). Further, the improved irrigation methods will increase production by 3 to 10 percent.

So far, the EYEM project has trained 486 youth in microenterprise development (263 men and 221 women), assisted over 349 youth in developing and improving professional business plans, and helped 250 businesses launch to date (47% female).

For more information about NEF’s work in Morocco, click here.

 

Moroccan Youth Successfully Launch Businesses

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After earning a degree in commerce, marketing, and management, Tarek Boudhir, a 23-year-old from El Jadida, Morocco, struggled to find a job—let alone one that met his qualifications.

Youth unemployment is a major challenge in Morocco—where young men and women represent roughly half of the working age population, yet four out of five are out of work. North Africa has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the world, making this endemic problem not only an issue in Morocco, but also a regional and international concern because of the myriad of issues linked to it, including: generational poverty, crime, violence, and human rights and security issues.

To make matters worse, due to the lack of job opportunities and an oversaturated market, education and skills are often no longer enough to get a decent job. To address these struggles the Near East Foundation (NEF) is helping to develop innovative alternatives to create financial stability among driven young Moroccans.

NEF, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), is implementing the Empowering Youth through Entrepreneurship in Morocco (EYEM) program to give young Moroccans the tools they need to turn their ideas into viable businesses through training in entrepreneurship, business incubator support, and start-up capital.

Boudhir had always dreamed of owning and operating a large farm. He strongly believes that young Moroccans should not solely depend on government job opportunities, but instead do what they can to create a business—and future—of their own.

Eager to refine his skills and access the resources he needed to develop and launch his business, Boudhir applied to participate in the EYEM program.

“I heard about NEF’s initiative from a friend of mine, then immediately applied for it because I was in need of support to make my dream come true,” Boudhir said.

Small businesses play a central role in Morocco’s economy; however, youth face a number of challenges developing their businesses, including: the absence of a strong entrepreneurial culture, limited or no access to credit, and a lack of personalized coaching and support. The EYEM program helps participants to overcome these challenges and to create an environment that supports youth entrepreneurs.

In the first phase of the EYEM program, Boudhir was taught the basics—what types of business models existed, the steps needed to set up a business, and how to develop a business strategy by analyzing the current market. Boudhir took what he learned and applied it to developing his business plan. The next phase of training focused on how Boudhir could develop and manage his business.

After excelling in the program, Boudhir presented his improved business plan and was awarded with a grant of 20,000 DH (2,050 USD) to help him launch his business plan.

“I knew that I could benefit from the trainings as well as the grant. I had some money saved, but I was sure it wouldn’t be enough to launch my business,” Boudhir explained.

Boudhir’s rabbit business is well on its way to being a success. He estimates that he will sell more than 180 rabbits in the first two months, making a profit of 10,800 DH (1,116 USD). In the coming year, Boudhir plans to further develop his business by expanding his farm so that he can raise 500 female and 50 male rabbits.

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Many other young men and women have seen success after enrolling in NEF’s program. Ilham Tabine is a 26-year-old from El Jadida. With support from NEF’s project, she launched a business selling ready-made clothes for women. She is applying her management and sales experience to promote the shop’s success.

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Rabiaa Benfarji, a 30-year-old woman from El Jadida, opened a hairdressing and cosmetics salon with the support of the EYEM project.

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Abass Kamouni, a 23-year-old from El Jadida launched a firm to provide administrative assistance, legal guidance, and editing services.

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And Asmaa Razouq, a 32-year-old from Safi, opened a clothing shop—Asmaa Clothes. Through the project she learned how to manage her bookkeeping, work with wholesalers, market her products, and attract new clients. “It’s really a very exciting challenge for me to be an independent woman with my own business. Having customers and dealing with wholesalers makes me more confident,” Razouq said.

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Another component of the EYEM project involves training and certifying young men and women as junior coaches. As a part of the certification, the junior coaches co-lead sessions with professional trainers to further develop their skills. They then take what they learn to train their peers in entrepreneurship and provide coaching at business incubators.

“My involvement in this project has shown me the important role that young people can play as a catalyst for our economy,” said Amine El Bouazzi, a 24-year-old trainer certified through the project. “The addition of junior coaches is an ingenious approach. It provides an opportunity for young coaches to practice their knowledge and skills, while also providing motivation to peers who hope to start their own businesses.”

With the communication and entrepreneurship skills gained through his participation in the project, El Bouazzi hopes to open his own consulting organization to provide training and coaching to other young and ambitious entrepreneurs in Morocco.

To date, the EYEM project has trained 486 youth in microenterprise development, helped 348 youth to develop professional business plans, and launched nearly 250 businesses.

For more information on NEF’s work in Morocco, click here.

 

Improving Access to Education in Rural Morocco

Morocco primary school children

Quarzazate Province, Morocco—Building on a successful model that the Near East Foundation has utilized since 2006, the Near East Foundation UK and its local partner, the Tichka Association, are working to improve access to education for primary students in rural Morocco. Through a multifaceted approach, we are accomplishing this goal by strengthening parent-teacher associations, designing child-led extra-curricular activities, and engaging disadvantaged parents to enroll and send their children regularly to school.

Since October 2015, NEF UK has worked with 14 communities in the Telouet Commune in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco to mobilize and organize parents into parents associations. Tangible impacts have already been made on primary school children’s access to education and well-being. 

Working in partnership with the Moroccan Ministry of Education Local Delegation, the project team facilitated the creation of five new parent associations, activated three associations, and formed three parent committees as incumbents for new associations. One of the newly formed parent associations supports the Ouzlim satellite primary school—a school with unsuitable water facilities.

When the team first assessed the Ouzlim primary school, the toilets and drinking water facilities were in very inapt conditions due to deliberate stoppage of the water supply. Unable to use the facilities in these conditions, the children were being exposed to health and hygiene hazards. This problem created a barrier for school attendance—a key issue that NEF aims to address.

To uncover reasons why the water facilities were sub-standard, NEF conducted an assessment, which revealed that community-based conflicts were the cause of the issue; particularly in relation to the sub-communities of Oufdrik, Daou Touarite, and Albour where the water source is located. While some association members attributed this to the recent elections and divergent political affiliations, others pointed to the high cost of maintaining the water supply and overdue payments. 

The three communities were unwilling to discuss ways to solve the problem—leaving the toilets and the drinking water facilities unusable and hazardous. As a result of these issues in the primary school, attendance and children’s interest in education decreased.

To resolve this problem, NEF and its local partners helped to form a new association comprised of representatives from all communities—including rival communities. Parents and community members came together to engage in productive discussions on how to solve the water supply issue and its negative impact on children’s health and education. The solution that was ultimately negotiated tasked the parents association with co-managing the facilities and collectively covering the costs of the water supply through contributions from all parents. 

Now that the water supply has resumed, the toilets and drinking water facilities are clean and functional, and the children are able to access them free of risk—improving school attendance and interest in learning. 

NEF’s work to improve access to and the quality of primary education for 2,100 poor girls and boys in villages in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains is funded by the BIG Lottery Fund. To date, 14 schools have been recruited to participate in the project and 11 Parent Associations have been formed or re-activated. 

To read more about our work in Morocco, click here.

 

Youth Turn to Creative Solutions to Inspire Business Development

Rabat, Morocco—Organic composting. Ecotourism. Red algae production. Solar equipment installation. These are just a few of the ideas the youth in Morocco had to improve economic development in their community.

With more than half of Morocco’s young working-age population (aged 15 – 29 years) out of school and out of work, youth unemployment is a serious concern for the country’s continued political stability. The Near East Foundation (NEF) is working to empower the youth through an entrepreneurship project that provides training and creates support networks to grow profitable and sustainable businesses.

To ensure success in this initiative, NEF conducted an economic assessment with youth and local economic actors to jointly identify unique opportunities for economic development in Morocco. The assessment identified what support would be needed to promote successful youth microenterprise development while overcoming barriers, particularly for non-skilled youth with little to no formal education.

While Moroccan youth note substantial challenges to business development, they also demonstrate an ambition to find innovative solutions. By way of technical counseling, identifying market opportunities, and providing financial resources, NEF is working to create a space where these challenges can be discussed and solutions can be found so that young Moroccans can begin implementing their ideas.

Findings, suggestions, and recommendations from the assessment were presented in two regional workshops in Morocco and continue to be used to guide NEF’s work with youth entrepreneurs in the region.

Click here to view the assessment on our resources page. 

Click here to read more about our work in Morocco.

 

NEF’s Legacy in Morocco

 

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For 25 years, NEF has established itself as a leader f successful, grassroots change in communities throughout Morocco.

The Early Years: 1993-2004

NEF’s first project in Morocco (1987-1993), implemented hand-in-hand with the regional agricultural development authority in Ouarzazate, focused on improving income and family nutrition through dairy goat farming. In the town of Skoura, near the Atlas Mountains, NEF helped establish a dairy breeding station, agricultural extension capacity, and a cooperative cheese factory that remains in operation today, independent of outside assistance.

Building on that experience, NEF established an Appropriate Technology Training Center (1993-2004) to provide a broad range of simple, improved technologies to villagers in remote areas of southern Morocco. Working with public-sector partners and private-sector artisans and entrepreneurs, NEF helped develop and disseminate a variety of tools and techniques for sustainable agriculture (small animal husbandry, market gardening, beekeeping, and arboriculture), household energy (fuel-efficient stoves and ovens), water pumping, and income generation.

In 1995, NEF began to support the creation of village associations to help rural communities self-organize and support local economic development. NEF’s work in rural Morocco continued to expand geographically and evolve technically through a series of innovative projects and partnerships—always maintaining a focus on local institutional strengthening and livelihoods.

Recent Work: 2005 and Beyond

In 2005, NEF expanded its focus to rural primary education and urban community development. In both cases, NEF maintained a focus on using the priority needs of education and income as a catalyst for community organizing and capacity building. Three of NEF’s recent key projects in Morocco include:

Improving Local Governance (2005-2008)

NEF aided residents of shantytowns in the greater Casablanca area to achieve a more participatory and transparent local government. NEF developed a sustainability plan in cooperation with community-based organizations, supported the creation of a women’s cooperative, and established a community center. In addition, NEF provided training in community support and mediation for several hundred local government officials, NGO employees, and social workers. In a three-year period, NEF assisted more than 10,000 people in nine shantytowns.

Current Work: Youth and Local Governance

Empowering Youth in Casablanca Slums (2008-2010)

NEF reduced social isolation and political extremism among at-risk youth in the Sidi Moumen and Nouaceur peri-urban slums of Casablanca by providing training in leadership and communication, job skills that increase employability, and life skills such as conflict-resolution. In turn, youth leaders trained their peers and helped organize them into community development associations. The project (1) empowered youth through leadership and civic engagement initiatives; and (2) created pathways for economic independence for youth. More than 1,500 youth received training through the program, and over 10,000 youth participated in project activities. NEF worked with municipal government officials to improve their outreach activities to youth and organized events to promote constructive, non-violent expression of youth needs.

Project Report in English
Project Report in French

Advancing Community-Based Primary Education Reform (2005-2010) 

In rural areas of Morocco, less than half of school-age children attend primary school, only 20% of adults are literate, and very few parents recognize the connection between education and poverty.  To help break this cycle, NEF worked with the Moroccan Ministry of Education to develop parent-teacher associations (PTAs), establish partnerships between local government and the community, cultivate women leaders in the community, and create income-generating projects to ensure sustainability in over 100 villages. NEF’s efforts improved quality of primary education for 16,000 children in rural Morocco; improved access to education for 8,000 girls; and resulted in a dramatic overall increase in girls’ attendance from 10 percent to 98 percent, with retention rates of 95 percent. With NEF support, PTAs generated more than $60,000 to invest in school maintenance and implemented 400 education initiatives.

Project Report in English
Project Report in French
Video of NEF’s Work in Primary Education Reform

Today, NEF continues its work in developing programs to create access to education in rural Morocco along with projects to create efficient, transparent, and accountable models of resource management for primary education. 

Read more about our past and ongoing work in Morocco here.

Successfully Adapting to Climate Change in Morocco

Oujda, Morocco (March 27, 2013) — In the water-scarce community of Oulad Yahya, Morocco – where people are cautious about taking new risks – farmer Amar El Akrouche’s estimated 50% water savings is serving as an example to his neighbors of how to improve irrigation efficiency and prospects for the future.

Amar is one of hundreds of farmers who have increased their knowledge and capacity with support from the Near East Foundation (NEF) through an agricultural water management project. NEF and project funder USAID are partnering with local organizations to share efficient water technologies with farmers in Morocco’s Oriental Region, an area where people largely depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Before participating in the project, Amar irrigated the fruit trees and vegetables on his farm through unlined canals, which resulted in significant water pumping and labor costs.

This is a common problem facing farmers in Morocco, where nearly 50% of water is lost through seepage in the generations-old traditional canal irrigation systems. Combined with the current and projected future impacts of climate change, water scarcity is a real threat to agricultural production and food security in the region.

Through the project, farmers like Amar have learned to map their water resources and received training in water conservation techniques. After realizing the inefficiencies of his current watering system, Amar sought a Moroccan government grant to support a portion of the cost of a new $10,000 drip irrigation system on his four hectares farm.

Now that the new system is installed, he reports a significant 50% water savings and additional savings in time and energy previously spent filling, opening and closing canals.

Based on his experience, at least 20 others in his village are now mobilizing to install their own systems.

The project aims to support 2,500 small farmers like Amar in 25 communities throughout the Oriental Region. This collaborative initiative is helping farmers meet their potential to increase production and income with irrigation improvements. In the long-term, it is also improving the sustainability of agricultural production by helping farmers learn to adapt to and overcome water scarcity.

Learn more about NEF’s work in Morocco

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The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international development NGO leading innovative social and economic change in the Middle East and Africa for almost 100 years. Founded in 1915, NEF has helped build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to implement grassroots solutions and build “knowledge, voice, and enterprise.” To learn more visit www.neareast.org.

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This report is made possible by the generous support of the American people through theUnited States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the Near East Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Hundreds Gather in Moroccan City to Advance Cooperation Between Youth and Elected Officials

Rabat, Morocco (March 8, 2013) — A recent open house to support youth and advance cooperation in Kenitra, Morocco brought together more than 400 youth and elected officials along with representatives from schools, universities, and government services for youth.

The event was organized with support from the Near East Foundation (NEF) through USAID’s Local Governance Project, a nation-wide effort in Morocco to build a dialogue between youth and their elected officials, and to provide youth with access to trainings and government services that can increase their civic engagement.

The Kenitra Youth Council, established in late 2012 with project support, was at the heart of the February 25th open house. Youth worked with local government officials to plan the event, mobilize participants to attend, and facilitate information sessions.

The youth council in Kenitra, a port city on the Sebou River in northwest Morocco, fosters youth leaders and facilitates the exchange of ideas with local elected officials. The council was created at the invitation of Kenitra government officials, who learned about the successes of the seven other youth councils newly launched in Morocco in cooperation with the project.

In recent years, a breakdown in dialogue has resulted in a lack of trust between local governments and youth in Morocco. Youth increasingly felt that government was unresponsive to their needs, while local elected officials felt that youth were unable to make valuable contributions.

In Kenitra, and in other areas of Morocco, this trend is changing with the growing participation of youth in their local government made possible by activities led by the new youth councils. The councils are providing a platform to re-build a constructive dialogue between local governments and the youth community.

The open house in Kenitra marked the first time elected officials there met with youth in public. It’s one example of a project activity designed to promote transparency and civic engagement. The open house offered youth an opportunity to meet with their elected officials and government representatives, learn about available local services, and ask questions about issues that most concern them. Participants also received information about the youth council’s role and activities. Kenitra Youth Council representatives led an open discussion on the participation of youth in local affairs, and organized performances by and for youth participants.

Abdesamad Fattar, a student at Prime Royal Military High School, was one of the youth who participated in the open house. After learning about the youth council he said, “this is a great opportunity to communicate because it will open the door for a good conversation between youth and local officials. Youth will be able to get their message across to officials.’’

Over the next year, eight open houses — with a focus on local government services and employment — are planned in areas throughout Morocco. Youth councils also sponsor a variety of other activities, including trainings on communication skills, and workshops that help youth better understand how local government works. In total, more than 5,000 youth in Morocco will benefit from the multi-year initiative.

The Local Governance Project is the result of a partnership between USAID and the General Directorate for Local Collectivities, with implementation by NEF and RTI International. The project supports local governments as well, helping them work more closely with their youth constituencies and integrate youth into the management of local affairs.

Learn more about NEF’s work in Morocco

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The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international NGO leading innovative social and economic development in the Middle East and Africa since 1915. For nearly 100 years, NEF has worked to empower citizens in disadvantaged, vulnerable communities. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to find grassroots solutions to their development challenges. NEF’s “knowledge, voice, and enterprise” approach is helping build more prosperous, inclusive communities throughout the region. To learn more visit www.neareast.org.

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This report is made possible by the generous support of the American people through theUnited States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the Near East Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Collaboration Produces Solution to Water Challenge in Eastern Morocco

With support from NEF, water is flowing again in a community irrigation canal for the first time in seven years.

Oujda, Morocco (December 17, 2012) — In far eastern Morocco, farmers in the agricultural community of Zenaga had not seen water in their irrigation channels for seven years.

The primary irrigation canal that transports water from the local spring through a series of channels to the planted areas in Zenaga – located in the desert oasis of Figuig near the border with Algeria – was clogged and had so many leaks that it was not functional.

One farmer, Mahrzi Abdi-Salam, paid over $1,500 a year to import water to maintain his palm trees, which produce the dates he sells to support his family.

The farmers in Zenaga knew that the canal needed to be repaired, but tensions among the group had prevented collaborative action.

In 2011, the Near East Foundation’s Agricultural Water Management (AWM) project began working in the area. This USAID-funded project brought farmers together to discuss water challenges and develop community solutions to improve management of their limited water supply.

Farmers received training in communication, conflict management, and water management strategies, building their capacity to work collaboratively and address challenges in their fields. They participated in a community mapping activity where they discussed challenges and opportunities in the management of water for agricultural activities.

As a result of these trainings, Mahrzi worked with other farmers who shared his vision to develop a proposal for the rehabilitation of the old underground irrigation canal that serves the community. The participating farmers received a grant from NEF to cover the majority of the canal repairs; they personally contributed 25% of the approximately $12,500 in project costs.

Within months, the rehabilitation project was completed and now water flows to the fields in Zenaga for the first time in seven years. Mahrzi not only has sufficient water for his date palm trees, but he is also planning to introduce new crops. He no longer pays to import water and estimates that with the increased irrigation his date production will double—to 1 ton of dates on a 2.5 hectare parcel.

Even neighboring farmers who were skeptical of the rehabilitation project at first have witnessed the dramatic transformation in Zenaga. Now receiving water on their parcels, these farmers have offered to contribute to the rehabilitation work that was completed, reimbursing lead farmers who made the initial payments.

During the two-and-a-half year water management project, NEF and its local partners aim to provide 2,500 farmers in 22 villages with training in efficient water management and to help them increase agricultural production through simple, accessible new technologies.

Learn more about NEF’s work in Morocco.

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The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international NGO leading innovative social and economic development in the Middle East and Africa since 1915. For nearly 100 years, NEF has worked to empower citizens in disadvantaged, vulnerable communities. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to find grassroots solutions to their development challenges. NEF’s “knowledge, voice, and enterprise” approach is helping build more prosperous, inclusive communities throughout the region. To learn more visit www.neareast.org.

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This report is made possible by the generous support of the American people through theUnited States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the Near East Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Farmers in Eastern Morocco Reduce Water Usage by 60%, Save Money and Time

Oujda, Morocco (October 1, 2012) — Some farmers in Morocco’s Oriental region have reduced their water usage by 60% or more through simple, low-tech drip irrigation technologies introduced by the Near East Foundation and its local partners.

In this vitally important agricultural region, farmers are struggling to cope with increasing drought and a decreasing water supply – which threaten their production and their future.

Up to 60% of water is lost through seepage in Morocco’s generations-old traditional canal irrigation systems.

Farmers are finding alternatives through NEF’s USAID-funded Agricultural Water Management project, which is introducing simple solutions – like drip irrigation – to help farmers overcome water shortages in one of the poorest and most water-scarce regions of the country.

The project raises awareness about water conservation and introduces farming techniques that increase productivity and profits with less water. NEF and its partners provide ongoing technical assistance to farmers so that they can install and operate the new technologies.

“Before I needed three full basins of water to irrigate my land,” said Tbatit Lakhder Mohamed, a farmer in the village of Laayat where he grows peas, beans, and potatoes. After receiving training, Mohamed purchased and installed drip irrigation on the land. “Now irrigating is much easier for me – and I need only one basin of water for the same parcel.”

In addition to a significant 66% water savings, Mohamed has reduced the time and energy he spends filling the trenches between each planting row with furrow irrigation.

In a community where people are cautious about taking new risks, he is serving as an example to his neighbors of how to mitigate the impact of growing water scarcity. Based on Mohamed’s experience, at least 20 others in his village are now mobilizing to install their own systems.

Created for arid and semi-arid areas, drip lines are capable of delivering controlled amounts of water directly to the plant roots. Drip improves over traditional canal irrigation by reducing the volume of irrigation water needed in fields, eliminating water losses from concrete cracks or unlined channels, and avoiding problems associated with overwatering.

Agriculture is the most important economic activity in the Oriental region. There is great unmet potential to increase production by small farmers, allowing them to transition to market-oriented production and to increase their income. However, the impacts of climate change and of inefficient, labor-intensive traditional irrigation techniques present serious constraints to achieving this potential.

During the two-and-a-half year project, NEF and its partners aim to provide 2,500 farmers in 22 villages with training in efficient water management and to help them increase agricultural production through simple, accessible new technologies.

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The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international development NGO leading innovative social and economic change in the Middle East and Africa for almost 100 years. Founded in 1915, NEF helps build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to implement grassroots solutions and to empower citizens through “knowledge, voice, and enterprise.” To learn more visit www.neareast.org.

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This report is made possible by the generous support of the American people through theUnited States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the Near East Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.