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ZAOUIAT CHEIKH’S PARTICIPATORY COMMUNITY MEETINGS

As part of HAF’s partnership with the Organization of the Moroccan Community in the United States (OMC-US), the High Atlas Foundation is facilitating participatory planning meetings in Zaouiat Cheikh and the Ait Oum Elbeikht communes, in the region of Ben-Mellal. Initial meetings since January 2012 were held at the social municipality club, and in recent weeks with community members in their gracious homes and villages.

The purpose of these gatherings of local men and women is for them to identify the types of projects they would like to implement in their community to achieve their socio-economic and environmental goals. The meetings have been wonderfully enthusiastic and interactive. People are listening carefully to each other, and acknowledging everyone’s needs and interests.

Community members are continuing to hone in on the specific project priorities, which are in the areas of irrigation, handicrafts and education (including literacy). Several people recommended that if these participatory planning activities were carried out by facilitators in every local Moroccan community, then the development would be more truly democratic. We totally agree.

All of us at HAF are very grateful to Dr. Abdelkader Abbadi and the entire OMC-US Board for believing in and financially supporting development projects by and for the people of Zaouiat Cheikh, which will soon be entering the project implementation stage.

It is wonderful that all HAF community, civil, corporate and government partners are real supporters of this premise – that community participation drives project sustainability. HAF’s programs make participation in development a reality for many Moroccan communities and groups, who are marginalized.

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