With the aim of fighting poverty in Morocco's drought-stricken and remote communities, the World Bank today signed a $25 million loan to support the government of Morocco's recently adopted 2020 Rural Development Strategy. The Rainfed Agriculture Development Project (RADP) is the first phase of a larger program to improve living conditions among smallholder farmers and herders in rainfed areas.
In Morocco, nearly half of the country's 30 million people and most of the poor live in rural areas. The agricultural sector, which employs half of the work force, remains a major component of the economy, contributing about 17 percent to the gross national product. As a result, agricultural performance has a critical impact on the socio-economic situation of rural households.
In recent decades however, frequent droughts and erratic rainfall have caused agricultural productivity to decline, leading to a rise in rural poverty and stark disparity between urban and rural living environments. Droughts have also triggered land erosion and other forms of environmental degradation as farmers and herders resort to short-term solutions that place pressure on natural resources.
In response to the increase in rural poverty, the government of Morocco adopted the 2020 Rural Development Strategy—an ambitious plan that strives to eliminate rural poverty by 2020 by focusing on agricultural development, building the skills of local authorities and NGOs to oversee projects, tailoring solutions to local ecosystems and promoting decentralization by involving rural people in decision making.
The proposed project supports the government's 2020 Rural Development Strategy in rainfed areas through two complementary components. The first component will finance activities aimed at harmonizing the Government's multiple approach to integrated rural development and improving public investment efficiency for rainfed agriculture.
The second component will finance activities that promote agricultural development, the upgrading of rural infrastructure such as roads and irrigation as well as education and
skill-training for local organizations.
The six-year project falls in line with the World Bank's country assistance strategy for Morocco which aims to reduce the vulnerability of the poor in rural areas. It supports the key objectives of equity and inclusion of local people living in rainfed areas by providing them with income-generating opportunities as well as access to basic infrastructure and services. — (menareport.com)
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