The project, (funded by EU/MEDA), is part of the national strategy of the Moroccan government for the alleviation of the socio-economic inequalities between urban and rural population, with parallel emphasis on the protection of the environment and the sustainable management of natural resources. The province of Chefchaouen, in the north of Morocco (Rif mountains), is one of the most densely populated regions of the country covering 435,000 ha, a considerable part of which being forests. The Natural Park of Talassemtane is of worldwide aesthetic and ecological importance.
Years of inappropriate agricultural practices have left the rural population of the region isolated and insecure, lacking basic infrastructure and unable to fully exploit the potential of the land, while the forest areas suffered by the human presence and exploitation.
The overall objective of the project is to improve the living standards and quality of life of the rural based communities, within the province of Chefchaouen, through (i) participatory sustainable management and valorisation of rural and forest areas ii) income generation/ diversification initiatives iii) improvement of basic small-scale infrastructure. The immediate beneficiaries are estimated at around 80,000, with special focus on women, as �actors of development�. One of the main components of the project is the provision of training to Administration staff of the agricultural and forest services, as well as to the local population and to the local authorities, towards project management, forest resources management, protected areas administration, organic agriculture etc�
Types of training offered are grouped in 8 categories: 1) Staff training, including study tours abroad, in France and in Greece, at Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, Crete, 2) Formal and informal (on-the-job) staff training in Morocco, 3) �Sensibilisation/open days� for farmers on technical subjects and for the village associations on project activities, methods and financing, 4) Training of farmers, 5) Tours and exchange visits in Morocco in various locations of the project area, focusing on methodological (participatory approach) and technical (cultivation and anti-erosion techniques, livestock management etc.) aspects, 6) Training and exchange seminars in Morocco, between local and international institutions, 7) training of 2 mountain guides/tourist companions and 8) Creation of a documentation basis for the Natural Park of Talassemtane.
The Consortium, led by Vakakis, provided the services of 4 international and 2 local experts who implement the training activities in a series of ashort-term missions.