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Cooperatives and women’s empowerment: the story of Konouz Lakdirate

Konouz womens empowerment
byZineb Laadam
onMarch 17, 2022

By Zineb Laadam, Field Officer

Farmer-to-Farmer team with Lakdirate cooperative in the data collection sessions, (Photo credit: F2F team, 2022)

At first glance Mrs. Malika Mesbahi, Mrs. Essadia Nadir look no different from any other rural women in Morocco. They live in a far-away area called Lakdirate in Al Youssoufia Province, about 90 km from Marrakech, and lead a mundane country lifestyle, looking after their households. But that is what appears on the surface. Unlike most of the rural women in the region, they are now more independent and proactive in many ways. Above all, they enjoy a degree of financial independence and can support their families.

Their lives changed when a women’s cooperative was established in their area in 2021 after they benefited from an IMAGINE workshop last June 2021 filled with reflection, discussion, and exercises that allowed them to open up on topics that may have been previously uncharted. Providing a structure for discussion went a long way in creating bonds between the women, who had not previously interacted with one another but who have experienced both success and failure and found comfort in common exercises that ultimately helped them create their cooperative. What started as a small initiative involving just a few women has grown into a business employing 30 women from Lakdirate village.

Led by Mrs. Malika Mesbahi, the president of the cooperative, all women who work here have different stories to share but one common goal: to make a living for themselves and their families and create employment opportunities for other women in their community.

Konouz Lakdirate Cooperative aimed to increase agricultural revenue for Moroccan families after growing a fruit tree nursery. However, they needed capacity-building support so that they could achieve their aim.

On December 25th, the Farmer-To-Farmer (F2F) team launched an assignment (O-H-40) in order to enrich the women’s cooperative Konouz Lakdirate and to help guide their planning, decision-making, and human and material resources allocation.

Ahmed Boumargoud, the local F2F volunteer, and Alena Klimas, the paired remote U.S volunteer, worked together with the HO members to deliver to them the essential tools for building their business plan on the establishment and management of the tree nursery.

Recently, HAF and its partners helped by launching a pilot project of a tree nursery and decentralized renewable energies for the benefit of the Konouz Lakdirate cooperative.

Mrs. Nadia Douirani says: “Our cooperative was created in a rural area suffering from poverty and drought. The cooperative gathered poor women from the area and gave them jobs. We are producing different types of traditional couscous. And we started recently working in the nursery to produce fruit trees thanks to the project.”

The women of the konouz lakdirate cooperative working in their nursery

Under the project, the cooperative’s members benefited from Solar panels installed both at the Aljoulane school and within the nursery and three wells: two for irrigation and community use and another for the school. A water tower is also being built for the benefit of the entire village.

Ms. Houda Khalouk, one of the youngest women at the cooperative, says: “I had to stop my studies. But I have been working at the cooperative. And during this period, I attended numerous training , and was also able to gain experience by attending a number of workshops. With the cooperative’s help, I believe I will be able to complete my professional education and earn an income to support myself and my family members. The cooperative and the project are playing a very important role in this dry and poor area.”

Currently, their main activities are growing and planting fruit trees with the farming families in the province, they are working to plant Argan, carob,Fig, pomegranate and almond trees.

Konouz Lakdirate co-op is the first one in the community that runs a fruit tree nursery using an irrigation system and Solar panels. The members are seeking to have more and better tree production and to expand their capacity for their future nursery that would allow them to start growing other fruit trees.

The women of Lakdirat exhibited energy to work in order to support their families and participate in the progress of their community and the F2F program continues supporting them by launching another assignment (O-H-46) of a training workshop on Solar PC maintenance.