Peace Corps Country Overview for Morocco
Morocco was among the first countries to invite the Peace Corps to assist in its development and manpower needs. A group of 53 surveyors, English teachers and irrigation foremen first arrived in Morocco in 1963 at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
From 1963 to today, nearly 4,000 Volunteers have served the Kingdom of Morocco in more sites, sectors, and projects than can be accurately reported, but which have included such endeavors as laboratory technology, urban development, commercial development, education of the blind and deaf, rural water supply, small business development, beekeeping, and English training.
Currently, Volunteers serve in the following sectors: Environment, Health, Small Business Development, and Youth Development.
The Peace Corps Environment Project seeks to reinforce the Government of Morocco's efforts in conservation initiatives of Morocco's natural resources and aid its rural populations to achieve a higher standard of living. Based on a Volunteer activity analysis and in response to Morocco's needs, the Peace Corps formally merged its agriculture program and its wildlife and environmental education program into a more holistic environment project. The new project promotes natural resource management and rural community development with a focus on environmental awareness and sustainable development.
Volunteers work with their Moroccan counterparts to:
- assist in implementing formal and informal environmental education activities in rural community development;
- promote sustainable natural resources conservation and management practices, and preserve biodiversity;
- combat desertification through the promotion of capacity building, and implementation of agroforestry, soil conservation, and reforestation ;
- reduce the environmental impacts of rural communities through the introduction of appropriate technologies and income generation activities, particularly for women.
In collaboration with their partners, Volunteers focus their efforts on introducing appropriate technology (solar pumps, fuel-efficient cookstoves, etc.) and practices that will work toward the goals of environmental education and improving natural resource management. Volunteers attempt to build links between the communities, which utilize the natural resources, and the government organizations that are charged with managing and protecting these resources.
The Health Program consists of two project plans: Maternal and Child Health, and Hygiene and Sanitation. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Health sector addresses community health problems such as high infant mortality rates, and adverse living conditions associated with poor water quality and inadequate sanitation facilities. In order to do so, Volunteers are assigned to small communities and villages where they work to:
- improve maternal and child health care;
- increase safe water supplies, and community access to health facilities and services;
- promote hygiene and sanitation practices.
Hygiene education is a major component of their activities. Volunteers participate in the implementation of the national campaigns (vaccination, family planning, diarrhea, trachoma), design and produce safe birth kits, train first level nurses and traditional birth attendants in communication and patient counseling, develop hygiene awareness campaigns, and construct water supply systems and sanitation facilities for elementary schools. Volunteers and their Moroccan counterparts develop informal health and hygiene lessons for their communities, as well as activities for school-age children outside of school hours. Efforts in pit latrine construction, water sources improvement and other community-based projects have produced considerable results, including skill transfer to local leaders in project design, management, and funding.
The Small Business Development sector was started in 1999 with the Ministry in charge of the Artisan Sector as a counterpart to the project. The main goals of the SBD project are:
- promote Moroccan small business in the artisan sector and enhance quality production;
- empower women's small enterprises, and encourage artisans cooperatives;
- introduce new techniques and designs in order to refine the crafts products and target tourists' tastes;
- train artisans to improve their business skills and marketing techniques, and also to seek micro-finances and use information technology.
Volunteers work with artisan communities to provide more business structure, design training sessions on management and computer techniques, and provide consulting assistance. Volunteers often organize craft fairs for women-run small enterprises and conduct a consumer survey to help the artisans learn about their target market. In collaboration with their counterparts, Volunteers also design educational programs to increase sales and promotion for Moroccan artisans and small business through a better understanding of tourism.
Volunteers also help to create business plans, and merchandising grids, carry out feasibility studies and teach accounting and bookkeeping techniques to Moroccan counterparts and local artisans. Volunteers assist in designing web sites for small cooperatives, and acquainting artisans with information technology and the internet in order to better equip them for the emerging small crafts e-commerce competition.
Youth constitutes the majority of Morocco's population. Volunteers assigned to Youth Centers encourage local youth to become more involved in their communities through targeted activities, which build leadership skills and community awareness. The goals of the Youth Development program are:
- strengthen networks between local partners working with youth;
- increase the capacity building of local professionals working with youth;
- promote volunteerism among local youth to take a more active role in their communities;
- encourage youth, especially girls, to better understand and practice culturally-appropriate life and leadership skills.
The initial contact with youth is made through content-based English instruction at the Youth Center that is then the conduit for the implementation of outside activities. These activities may include organizing environmental clubs, planting trees, community cleanups, latrine building, sports teams, girls' education activities, youth mentoring, teaching computer skills, or teaching basic literacy to adults.
Youth development, particularly of girls, is a priority within the Ministry in charge of Youth. Volunteers, their counterparts/supervisors, and other members of their communities, are working together to meet the needs of these rural youth. Volunteers work with local partners such as teachers, women's centers, and associations on capacity building activities to find local solutions to local problems.
Peace Corps Volunteers have supported many significant contributions in the quality of life in Morocco over the last 40 years, but the country continues to face a number of pressing development challenges. The maternal mortality rate is exceptionally high in rural areas. There is a high rate of unemployment, particularly among youth. Population growth has contributed to the drainage of wetlands, de-forestation of public areas, and erosion in national park reserves. To help address these problems, Volunteers are assigned to projects in youth development, environment, health and small business development.
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Friends of Morocco
Friends of Morocco is a organization of Americans, mostly returned Peace Corps volunteers, with experience in Morocco and Moroccans in America united with an interest in promoting educational, cultural, charitable, social, literary and scientific exchange between Morocco and the United States of America.
2, Rue Abou Marouane Essaadi, Agdal
Rabat, 10100 Maroc
Telephone Number: (212) 537-683 780
Fax Number: (212) 537-683 799