On Saturday 24 May, our HAF colleagues Abderrahim and FatimaZahra came to Essaouira to train a team of local people in the participatory approaches used by HAF. This training took place in the context of a project which is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy and which is a supplement to HAF’s work in Al Haouz Province with elected women.
The aims of this project are to train five local people to be themselves trainers in participatory approaches; creation and management of cooperatives; organic agriculture; project implementation and evaluation and participatory data collection. These five people will then go into the field to engage local association and cooperative members, elected women and community leaders in these techniques and subjects with a view to supporting further human development in Essaouira Province. Specifically, we hope this project will underpin the functions of the Cooperative Amoud Mogador – the creation of which HAF has facilitated – and the organic tree and plant nursery HAF plans to create in partnership with the coop, ultimately creating greater linkages and dynamism in local civil society. With the networks and capacities built through this training program, we hope to identify local projects and partnerships for future funding through the income generated by the Amoud Mogador Cooperative and HAF’s social enterprise, HA3.
During the training, Abderrahim taught four key methods of the participatory approach (of more than 700 in total). These were:
– social/ resource/ dream-mapping;
– pair-wise ranking; and
– weight ranking.
The methods were practiced by a group of around 20 of the older beneficiaries (aged 17+) of Bayti Association, one of HAF’s key partners in Essaouira. These teenagers used the tools to identify their own socio-economic and spatial situation in order to better identify their own community’s needs. In this way, those who are being trained to practice these methods in rural communities were able to use the methods themselves and seek them in action in a real ‘community’. This helps the learning process and the understanding of the methods.
Through the mapping exercise and the pair-wise ranking, the group determined a number of priorities for socio-economic development in Essaouira. Once the suggestions from the dream mapping were compared against each other and ranked by pair, the following ideas were the most popular:
– creation of an industrial quarter
– creation of a university
– creation of a commercial complex or mall
– creation of a cultural center
Using criteria determined by the community, these can be further examined and weighted to better understand the advantages and disadvantages and the collective motivation and support for each suggestion. The sum of the data collected in such an exercise provides strong support for project proposals seeking finance for development initiatives as it demonstrates not only that the community has determined their own priorities but that community members are engaged in the future success of such initiatives.
The result of today’s session was twofold. We now have a set of data which we can use to support further human development projects with youth in Essaouira. We also have a set of trainee trainers who better understand the High Atlas Foundation’s use of the participatory approach and who are preparing to use it in the field.
This project builds on HAF’s previous work in Essaouira Province. Our first project, which dealt with the rehabilitation of the cemeteries of the three faiths and the education of local youth about Essaouira’s multicultural past, enabled us to build strong relationships with local authorities and civil society and opened the door to further work in the rural areas. Through HAF’s support to the creation of the Amoud Mogador Cooperative and the celebration of 16 January in two rural schools, we are starting to engage rural populations in a meaningful way. The NED project is a natural continuation of these efforts. We hope that the people we train will become facilitators and community counselors in their communes, acting as sources of information on needs and resources and as intermediaries between government agencies and other funders and their local community. We hope also that they will act as catalysts for greater federation and networking of local associations to facilitate more effect collaborative working.
Lynn Sheppard, HAF Program Director, Essaouira Province