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.
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.
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.
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.