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Morocco Week in Review 
December 6, 2014

Morocco: 32,000 People Live With AIDS.
Monday 1 December 2014

The Ministry of Health has launched the fifth national campaign for the detection of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome HIV/AIDS. The campaign, which starts on December 1st until the 10th, aims at encouraging people to conduct analyses to detect the virus and prevent it from spreading. The campaign, which is commemorating this year’s world AIDS Day, is part of a larger national strategy to fight the disease during the period 2012-2016. The Ministry said that the fifth national campaign for the detection of AIDS comes after the previous campaigns have had a very positive impact among those who did not know they were infected.

According to the Ministry’s estimates, the number of people who do not know they are infected with AIDS has fallen from 80 to 70 percent. The latest statistics made available by the Ministry of Health indicate that the number of people living with AIDS in Morocco is standing at 32,000 in 2014 since the disease first appeared in the country in 1986. Meanwhile the number of people who were tested positive for the disease is estimated at 9378 people by October 30th.
The national campaign launched by the Health Ministry is targeting around 120 thousand people and it aims to raise awareness of the seriousness of the disease and to encourage people to seek medical support and education about how to stay away from it.

AMIDEAST and Citi Foundation Launch Fourth Year of Arab Women’s Entrepreneurship Projec.
by Naharnet Newsdesk

This November, AMIDEAST and Citi Foundation launched the fourth phase of the Arab Women’s Entrepreneurship Project (AWEP), designed to empower women entrepreneurs by providing them with the skills and techniques that will enable them to fully realize their economic potential and to allow them to benefit from networking and mentoring relationships that foster business success. The fourth round of AWEP will be offered in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco, with 20 women selected in each country.

The economic participation of women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is lower than anywhere else in the world. MENA women have limited access to financial and training services, and face far higher unemployment rates than men. Added to this are common perceptions and beliefs that women should not be the financial heads of households.

AWEP addresses these constraints by providing critical training and support to women entrepreneurs. Training focuses on building entrepreneurship awareness and fundamental business skills, such as entrepreneurial mindset and personal development skills; formulating a business plan; customer support; sales; use of technology for business growth, and financial literacy. The language of instruction is Arabic to ensure maximum inclusivity.

An initial 15 days of training is followed by a six-month period of follow-up training sessions and mentorship meetings. Successful local women entrepreneurs are regularly invited as guest speakers to inspire and motivate the participants, and representatives of local banks and microfinance institutions offer guidance on available funding options. In addition, the women are connected via various social media platforms, and the participants from previous years are invited to meet, network with, and support their counterparts.

Since its first round of training in 2011, the AWEP program has advanced the entrepreneurial aspirations of 214 underserved women in six countries. (The countries included Lebanon, Kuwait, Morocco and the UAE during the first year, and Lebanon, Morocco, Egypt, and Jordan during the two subsequent years). AMIDEAST is currently launching the fourth round of training; its offices in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco offices are now accepting applications.
AMIDEAST’s experience with this program over the past three years has demonstrated that training in best business and related financial practices, and instruction on how to apply for funding, combined with ongoing support and mentoring, advances the aspirations of Arab women entrepreneurs.
Allyson Jerab is the Regional Coordinator of the Arab Women's Entrepreneurship Program at AMIDEAST.

AMIDEAST is an American nonprofit organization with over 20 offices in the Middle East and North Africa. It works to expand educational opportunities and quality, strengthen the capacity of local institutions, and assist individuals seeking to develop language and business skills necessary for success in the global economy.

Citi Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Citi, is committed to the economic empowerment of individuals and families, particularly those in need, in the communities where Citi works. It strategically funds programs that can help such individuals and families improve their standard of living.
More information can be found at: and

Social side of sustainability
Francisco Szekely & Zahir Dossa,  Sat, December 06 2014

How cooperatives can redefine value distribution in value chains. For many companies, becoming more sustainable means reducing negative environmental impacts in their value chain. Far fewer companies address the social side of sustainability. This is unfortunate, because organizations can create and redistribute real value by making their value chains more socially sustainable.

Michael Porter introduced the concept of the value chain in his 1985 best-seller, Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance. He described it as a series of activities that a firm in a specific industry performs to deliver a valuable product or service to the market. But what does it mean to increase value in the value chain, and to redistribute the existing value to people in the chain who do not earn their fair share? And how can companies do this in a socially sustainable way?

One possible starting point is the Fair Trade movement, which aims to pay a fairer set of wages to producers. However, studies have demonstrated that high certification costs and limited demand for Fair Trade goods have resulted in only marginal increases to producers’ incomes.

A more promising option to redistribute value can be through the cooperative form of organization. This was established in northwest England during the 19th century in response to harsh working conditions and has more recently been adopted by the Fair Trade movement and other sustainable development initiatives. Cooperatives have a unique structure, in which their members (including producers and workers) are also their owners.

What can we learn from cooperatives, and how can organizations make their supply chains more socially sustainable? These were the questions that motivated our study of the argan oil cooperative movement in southwest Morocco.

The Morocco case

In 2013, 44 percent of Morocco’s population lived in rural areas, where GDP per capita was estimated to be €1,325 – 60 percent less than the national average. Access to resources in the country’s desert and mountain regions is severely limited, which further exacerbates the problem. Although the government has embarked upon campaigns to develop the country’s rural corridor, the most significant changes to date have come from the cooperative movement in argan oil —a plant oil found only in Morocco that is used in high-end personal-care products and as a gourmet food oil product.

The sector is particularly interesting because of the impact of social enterprises on the most under-privileged population segment: women living in rural areas. Most women in southwest Morocco are uneducated, illiterate and do not speak Arabic, which makes it difficult for them to leave the countryside. With no alternative employment options in this patriarchal society, argan oil cooperatives offer women and their families a much-needed additional source of income.

Dr. Zoubida Charrouf developed the first argan oil enterprise in southwest Morocco in 1996, structuring it as a female cooperative. The Amal cooperative had a mechanized system for pressing and filtering argan oil, procedures that were previously performed by hand. The more efficient production process, combined with growing awareness for the health and beauty benefits of argan oil, generated interest from cosmetic companies in Europe and North America.

With grants from various countries, Charrouf founded the Ibn al Baytar association in 1999 and financed the growth of cooperatives under its umbrella. The injection of donor funding also attracted good managers to run cooperatives in the countryside. By 2009 Ibn al Baytar had helped organize 1,800 women into 20 cooperatives. However, despite investing 20 hours of manual labor to produce 1 liter of oil, producers earned only 0.8 percent, or €5, of the final retail price.

This problem exists across commoditized industries, and is not unique to the argan oil sector. We would therefore suggest two best practices that could enable organizations to optimize the socioeconomic impacts of their value chains.

1] Vertical integration through branding and the elimination of middlemen.

Very few argan oil cooperatives sell directly to the market, because they lack the direct connection to retailers and have poor branding and marketing skills. Instead, they sell to cooperative associations, which then sell to distributors that are connected to cosmetic labs and brands in global markets. By connecting directly to cooperatives instead, retailers could eliminate middlemen and increase the amount returned to cooperatives and their members. In addition, cooperatives should invest in developing their own brand so that they can sell directly to consumers.

2] Value chain transparency

Although many organizations have had difficulty communicating the social impacts of their value chains, the internet offers the possibility of full transparency. By showing exactly where the money from a purchase goes, companies can better communicate their social sustainability to their customers. In doing this, organizations can more clearly demonstrate the sustainability of their value chains while building trust and customer loyalty. (Francisco Szekely & Zahir Dossa)

Szekely is Sandoz Family professor of leadership and sustainability and director of the IMD Global Center for Sustainability Leadership (CSL).
Dossa is a postdoctoral fellow at the CSL. He earned a Ph.D. from MIT in Sustainable Development and is the founder and president of The Argan Tree.

Marrakech an inspiration for Yves Saint Laurent
PETER NEVILLE-HADLEY, Meridian Writers' Group Friday, December 05, 2014 MARRAKECH, Morocco

Marrakech taxis are greenhouses on wheels, and stepping out of one at the gate of the Jardin Majorelle into blinding sunshine brings little relief. But beyond the gate of one of the city's most celebrated gardens the light becomes dappled, the air becomes cool and moist, and the temperature seems to drop 10 degrees. It's an inner-city oasis.

The garden was founded by the French painter Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962) who acquired the first parcel of land in 1924 and expanded it with further purchases until the cost of its maintenance forced him to open it to the public in 1947.

He planted hundreds of rare varieties of cacti, palms, willows and much more, carefully arranged along snaking paths and beside a long, straight water channel whose edges he painted a rich cobalt blue, a colour that came to be known as "bleu Majorelle."

The channel leads the eye though dense thickets of feathery bamboo to fountains, a pond laden with lily pads, and to an even bigger surprise -- an angular 1930s Cubist mansion in the same brilliant blue, startlingly out of place in a largely blank-walled ochre city. This was the artist's studio.
Getting there involves taking a choice of winding, red-painted pathways past blue and yellow pots, past rampant jasmines and great cascades of gaudy bougainvillea. It's like walking through a Matisse landscape.

After Majorelle's death the garden became neglected, and was doomed to redevelopment as a hotel complex, but was saved at the last minute by fashion superstar Yves Saint Laurent and his partner. They renovated the studio, replanted the gardens and made it once again busy with gardeners.
In the artist's studio they arranged a further surprise, creating from their own private collection what is now the Musee berbere -- a small but beautifully presented exhibition of the crafts of some of Africa's oldest tribes.

Their distinctive hanbel -- woven rugs in the deep blues and burnt oranges Majorelle himself admired --a re still produced in the High Atlas Mountains, and widely available in Marrakech's labyrinthine souks. But here are the smaller-scale, everyday objects made precious by craftsmanship: Ornately carved boxes for keeping kohl, curved daggers covered in geometric designs and fabulously intricate woven baskets.

Itinerant silversmiths created jewelry abuzz with detail from multiple techniques: Chiselling, filigree work, enamelling, engraving and setting with constellations of contrasting semi-precious stones. Complex, multi-layered chest pieces and head decorations also serve to demonstrate tribal origins, are believed to have medicinal properties, and provide a means to preserve savings -- flashing rather than stashing. Displays of gaudy costumes show the variety of tribes from the mountains to the Sahara.

Yves Saint Laurent so loved this place, which he claimed to be a source of much inspiration, that after his death in 2008 his ashes were scattered here. A final unexpected attraction is a snapped-off pillar to one side of the garden, a memorial to the late designer, whose surviving partner has now donated garden and villa to a foundation that will ensure it offers relief to sun-baked visitors for the foreseeable future.

Child Marriage in Morocco: Young girls Married at the Age of 12.
Friday 5 December 2014 Rabat

A new report released by Morocco’s Ytto Foundation revealed that among 138 marriages in the Midelt province, 52 percent of brides are minors, and some of them married at the age of 12. 91 percent of these couples are with undocumented marriage. The Ytto Foundation introduced the report to the media during a press conference on Thursday in Casablanca. It was conducted by a delegation from the Ytto Foundation that travelled to several villages in the Midelt province. The program used the slogan “No to Legalizing the Rape of Children, All against Child Marriage.”

According to the report, 83 percent of women interviewed in the villages in the Midelt province said they were married before the age of 18, and 91 percent of them said they are in customary marriages, or marriage without legal documents.

The Ytto Foundation said that these sorts of marriages are further harming the situation of women in Morocco. The report goes on to add that most of these victims of child marriage suffer from gynecological pathologies, and many of them are subjected to sexual violence from their husbands. “In some cases, young girls married at the age of 12, 13 and 14. Those girls are experiencing symptoms of illness because of being obliged to bear psychological and physical burdens which doesn’t match with their age,” the report noted.

The Ytto Foundation said that in an unauthenticated marriage, a woman is not entitled to child support in the case of divorce or inheritance upon the death of their spouse. Also, her children would not be considered legitimate and thus, they would lose their right to an education since they are not registered.
According to the report, the majority of women and girls surveyed suffer from joint disease associated with working on a farm.
The report goes so far as to reveal that 91 percent of women surveyed are illiterate. Almost 80 percent of them said that they would like to study.
Edited by Timothy Filla

Morocco to Produce Phosphates for Next 700 years: Experts.
Friday 5 December 2014 - Rabat

A group of international experts said on Thursday that Morocco is qualified to produce phosphates for the next 700 years. Speaking at the third edition of Mines and Quarries exhibition in Casablanca, experts said that Morocco’s production of phosphates is capable of meeting the needs of the world’s economy for about 700 years, adding that by adopting the latest technologies, Morocco will be able to reduce production costs in the future.

The experts added that Moroccan phosphates will provide the world with food in the coming years, since phosphorous is used to make fertilizers which are essential component of modern farming. The largest deposits of phosphate are located in Morocco. The kingdom dominates 50 percent of phosphate market in the world with a production capacity estimated at 30 million tons per year. Morocco is also planning to reach a production capacity of 40 million tons per year by 2020.

The world’s largest deposits of phosphate are located in Morocco, with a production capacity estimated to 19 million tons per year. The Cherifian Office of Phosphates (Office Cherifian des Phosphates, OCP), which was founded in August 7, 1920 in Morocco and transformed into a joint-stock company (OCP) in 2008, is the world’s largest exporter of raw phosphate, phosphoric acid and phosphate fertilizers.

World Human Rights Forum Honors Women Activists
Saturday 29 November 2014 -Aziz Allilou Marrakech

Moroccan and international activists, along with Moroccan women previously held as political prisoners, received Certificates of Excellence for Peace Saturday from the Academy of Universal Global Peace, based in India, during the World Human Rights Forum, being held in Marrakesh this week. The second day of the World Human Rights Forum paid tribute to Moroccan and international activists along with Moroccan female activists who were jailed during The Years of Lead, the term used to describe the period between the 1960s and 1980s in Morocco which was marked by state violence against political dissidents and democracy activists.

Morocco World News met Amina Lachgar, a Moroccan women’s rights activist who was a recipient of one of the certificates. She said that ‘’honoring the Moroccan women who were jailed during the Years of Lead at such a prestigious human rights event, is a recognition of the struggle and efforts of Moroccan women for human rights in general and women’s rights in particular.’’

Boutayna El Mekoudi, another Moroccan human rights activist, told MWN that the prize is “such an encouragement for more struggle for my causes; the discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS in Morocco, and defending victims of the Years of Lead.’’‘’I am a member of the Moroccan Commission for Truth and Justice that defends the victims of Human Rights violations during the years of lead. We are here in Marrakesh in order to call on the government to apply the recommendations released by The Equity and Reconciliation Commission and pay restitution to victims,’’ she explained.

The second day honored young female activists in Morocco and the Arab World, by awarding them certificates of excellence for peace for their struggles for social peace. One of those young female activists is Sara Soujar, one of the founders of the February 20th movement and one of the Human Rights activists who struggled for the freedom of detained Moroccan rapper Mouad Belghouat. She told MWN she is proud of this honor which “reflects the real strength of youth and their struggle for social justice and equality.” However, Sara noted that the tribute is incomplete. “The real tribute will be when all our demands are achieved and all the political detainees become free,” she said, adding that “the real tribute for youth will be when they are able to make political decisions in Morocco and guarantee all their political, social and economic rights.”

Tunisia was also honored in Marrakesh as Tunisia’s activist Samia Zayani was also one of the recipients of the Certificate for Excellence for Peace.
Talking to MWN, Samia Zayani said that “just like any other young activist from the south who seeks justice, I am seeking to guarantee the right of peace for the next generation.’’ She added that the tribute revises her spirit after three years of revolution and efforts for the Tunisian civil society.
“This an encouragement and a strong motivation to go forward. This tribute is not for me only, It is a tribute for Tunisian society in general and Tunisian women in particular,’’ she concluded.

The ceremony honoring the activists was attended by Dr. Madhu Krishan Founder & Chairman of the Academy of Universal Global Peace, who spoke during the ceremony about his experience. He expressed to MWN his pleasure to be in Marrakesh in order to participate in a great human rights event, “since my mission is to support citizens of the world to build great nations that respect human rights.’’‘’We send our experts from the Academy of Universal Peace to tension spots which are threatened by ethnic or racial conflicts to conduct analysis before the conflicts take place with the goal of rescuing the lives of civilians,’’ he explained. “We educate them and train them to be global citizens and turn them into a sustainable development group for their own community. That how we build strong nations,’’ he said

Moroccan Schools Lacking in Inspirational Speakers.
Monday 1 December 2014 - El Houssaine Naaim Marrakech

School is not only a place of knowledge, but a place of motivation, inspiration and creation. If teachers are able to look at students as people before coming to school, they will be able to recognize that it’s not the school’s purpose to make students make something of their lives. Teachers will then see the need to inspire students to be creative and successful instead of bombarding them with lectures and homework.

To help students along their desired life path, teachers and adults in general need to encourage and inspire them by providing them with appropriate help in achieving their goals. However this should be done only when necessary in order to foster independence in each individual student.

Teachers discouraging students with fierce words can be as harmful as swords, converting teachers from inspiration and assistances into obstacles towards students’ goals. Some teachers highlight negative points and shortcomings in students without recognizing their strong and positive attributes. So it’s time for some Moroccan teachers, or rather people in general, to appreciate the good in others while shifting their focus away from shortcomings in their personalities.

To better express this message, take the analogy of a bee eye over a fly eye as an example. That is to say, a bee eye, which is stemmed from the hardworking nature of bees, is appreciated more than a fly eye. As we know, bees are attracted to beautiful things like flowers and nectar and are never drawn to foul smelling rubbish. On the contrary, flies always choose rubbish and dirty things. Therefore, if people have a bee eye they will highlight the positive attributes in others and encourage them to go forward. Those with a fly eye will only see shortages in others.

In several countries, people have started to realize and embrace the role of inspirational speakers in life and recognize that no one can benefit from pessimism and discouragement. Systems in some countries, like the United States, invite inspirational speakers into their schools to speak about reaching their goals despite life’s difficulties.

They invite them not to teach, but simply to speak. To speak about success in life to others may be more important than teaching them how to succeed in life because it is motivational and inspirational.

It then becomes appropriate to mention one of the most famous inspirational speakers, Nick Vujicic. This speaker is known for having no arms and no legs and has given inspiring speeches in several universities and schools in the United States. He talks frequently to students on how they can overcome difficulties and live up to their potentials. One of his videos is posted at the end of the article to provide an example of the extent to which inspirational speeches can actually work.

Thus, when dealing with our friends, students, and members of our families, we should make sure that we encourage their efforts and support them in following their plans for a successful life, for individual success is not personal, but social. The success of an individual is at the same time the success of the society.

To pave the way for a supportive society and a successful system of education that caters to an individual’s psychological health, schools should develop programs that invite inspirational speakers from around the world to Moroccan schools and institutions to talk to students about their experience with success and the way they can fight against hopelessness and discouragement.

Instead of inviting thousands of singers, it’s better to invite hundreds of inspirational speakers, be it Moroccans or foreigners, to inspire students and encourage them to live up to their fullest potential.
Edited by Jack Stanovsek

Climbing Mount Jbel Toubkal in Morocco.
By Freya Renders, Holiday Nomad | December 2, 2014

More in Destinations
I decided that it would be a good idea to start my Mountain Climbing training in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and climb Mount Toubkal also called Jbel Toubkal – with its 4167 meters – the highest mountain of North Africa. I read a lot of information about the climb and was reassured by the fact that it did not seem to be a very technical nor difficult climb. So on 22nd of March at 8 am, a beautiful sunny day – I was ready to go. Together with a guide, a cook and a mule to carry the food and baggage, we started our hike from the Imlil Lodge located in Tamatert on the outskirts of Imlil.

Entering Toubkal National Park
The hiking trail went gradually up, we passed Imlil in the Valley on our right. After a bit more than an hour we reached the entrance of Toubkal National Park, a hiking paradise and the home of the famous Mount Toubkal. There is no issue getting drinks on the first part of this trekking as regularly you will pass a little wooden stall where you can buy drinks and snacks. The first stall we passed, we took a fresh orange juice and sat down for a couple of minutes to enjoy the magnificent views.

Passing Through Sidi Chamharouch
We continued our way through the beautiful Mizane Valley till we reached the pilgrimage Sidi Chamharouch build around a Muslim shrine. In this little hamlet, you can eat something, have another fresh orange juice or buy anything from cushions to Berber scarfs. From here the trail zigzags steeply uphill through the Isougouane Valley. We passed another drink stall but did not stop and continued our ascent. In the last drink stall before Base Camp our cook made us a delicious lunch, afterwards we took a little break enjoying again the stunning views.

Reaching Mount Toubkal Base Camp
After lunch the hiking seemed to go a lot easier and the trail didn’t seem so steep anymore. I’m not sure whether that was actually the case or whether I just had renewed energy because of the lunch and the little pause. We reached the Toubkal bunkhouse refuge – Base Camp at 3207m – after about an hour. The porters were carrying all the food and luggage for the last part of the trail till Base Camp as we had to leave the mules behind once we crossed the snow line. We spend the afternoon in the Toubkal refuge by sitting in front of the fire and playing cards. I was quite satisfied with myself to have made it this far. The refuge has about 5 rooms and on average there sleep about 25 people per room, further there are 2 toilets and 1 shower … luckily the water was reasonably hot after a while. Our cook made us a nice dinner in the refuge after which we went to sleep. It is quite difficult sleeping with so many people in one room … there was lots of noise and it was freezing cold.

The Ascent of Jbel Toubkal
Next morning we had an early breakfast and around 7 am we were ready to start the ascent of Mount Toubkal. Several little groups with their guide, all with crampons and some groups also with ice-axes, started slowly going up. It was freezing cold, there was lots of snow and the long ascent on the steep slopes seemed to take for ever … it crossed my mind a couple of times to turn around but I never did cause I was really motivated to reach the summit, so slowly and exhausted I continued to climb.

Morocco on Forbes’ Top 10 Coolest Places to Visit in 2015.
Monday 1 December 2014 - Larbi Arbaoui Taroudant

Morocco appears in Frobes’ list of the 10 Coolest Places to Visit in 2015, announced last week. The American business magazine ranked Morocco the World’s second coolest destination in 2015, highlighting the country’s famous souks, square and riads of Marrakech or the amazing beaches of Agadir.

Only behind Iceland, which topped the list as “the happiest place on earth,” Morocco comes second ahead of many renowned world’s tourist destinations such as Vietnam, the United States, Tasmania Australian, Colombia and Japan.

The Forbes list invites the world travelers to explore the other adventurous regions in the kingdom apart from the famous tourist destinations like Fez, Marrakesh and Agadir.

The list highlighted amazing places in the southeast of the country such as the Todra Gorges located in Tinghir, the valley of roses in Kelaat Megouna, the Kasbahs of Ouarzazate and the gigantic golden dunes of Erg Chebbi.

“Intrepid visitors can scale the sheer walls of the Todra Gorge for summit views of the rose valleys beyond,” Forbes wrote. A few hundred kilometers to the northeast and far from the mountainous and winding roads of the Gorges of Todgha, lie the vast and majestic dunes of golden sand known as Erg Chebbi, one of the largest ergs in the kingdom located in Merzouga, covering an area of 50 kilometers.

The travelers can also “head for the horizon to gloriously outfitted Bedouin tents rising from a sea of sand dunes in Erg Chebbi, the gateway to the Sahara,” the same source added.

The diversity of Morocco’s landscapes, beaches, climate and culture enable it to appear regularly in the lists of the world’s best tourist destinations.
Last month, Lonely Planet selected the kingdom among the top best countries to visit in 2015 due to its proximity to Europe, unique style of cuisine and diversified and rich culture.

Lahcen Hadad, minister of tourism, has said previously that Morocco is “resolved to be among the world’s top 20 tourism destinations by 2020,” thanks to its numerous assets, mainly political stability, friendly people and proximity to Europe.

Morocco, 4th Country With People Suffering From Diabetes in MENA.
Tuesday 2 December 2014 - El Houssaine Naaim Marrakech

Morocco has the fourth highest number of people with diabetes among Arab countries, according to a study released by Nature Middle East magazine. With 1.5 million diagnosed with diabetes, Morocco comes fourth in the ranking after Egypt (7.5 millions), Saudi Arabia (3.7 millions) and Algeria (1.6 millions).
The magazine ranked countries from the Middle East and Africa based on a database from the International Diabetes Federation, which collects data and information about diabetes all over the world.

According to the same source, with nearly 35 million people diagnosed with diabetes, the Middle East and North Africa have the highest rate of prevalence in the world with 1 in every 10 people affected by the disease. Diabetes is responsible for the death of over 10% of adult population in the MENA region.
More than 1,300,000 Moroccans are affected by diabetes, according to the Ministry of Health’s 2014 report. Another report released by the Ministry last March said that number of patients diagnosed with diabetes totaled 529,910 in 2013 alone.

The Chairman of the Moroccan League for diabetes mentioned during the last organization’s general assembly in Ouarzazate last year that 10% of Moroccans have diabetes, including those carrying the disease without being aware of it.
Edited by Timothy Filla

More than 600 volunteers mobilized as heavy floods hit Moroccan cities, kill dozens.
2 December 2014

Morocco’s floods have so far killed more than 40 people while 200 others have been rescued. Meanwhile, search and rescue teams have been dispatched to look for missing people in hard to reach areas. The winter season has hit Morocco this year with full force as heavy rains and floods invaded numerous southern cities and towns, causing numerous deaths and leading to a severe damage in the country’s infrastructure.

At least 40 people have reportedly been killed in the floods so far, while more than 200 have been rescued. Others, meanwhile, remain missing as search and rescue teams have been dispatched to look for them in hard to reach areas. The unprecedented downpour also gravely harmed the country’s agricultural sector, destroyed tens of buildings and led to the collapse of bridges, in addition to completely isolating several neighbourhoods.

As soon as the crisis hit the northern African country, Moroccan Red Crescent teams were ready to provide relief and rescue services to affected families and individuals through the organisation’s local committees and through maintaining close contact with the central headquarters. Six hundred volunteers were mobilised and 50 local intervention teams were formed to respond to the emerging needs, as the organisation’s warehouses were opened for the distribution of relief items such as blankets, mattresses, and hygiene kits aimed to 1,100 families.

The National Society has also been collaborating with health, civil and military bodies to coordinate in relief services and in the delivery of food and non-food items, and in the provision of first-aid, transport and psycho-social support. “Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Malika, the chairperson of the organisation, has requested the mobilisation of all available resources to respond to the needs of people who were most affected by the floods in several parts of the country,” the Moroccan Red Crescent Society said in a released statement.

The first relief operations took place in the provinces of Ouarazate and Tinghir where 700 families were targeted. The Moroccan Red Crescent has also put under its disposal its basic preparedness stock, which is part of its contingency plan, to provide 2,100 families with basic urgent needs. Meanwhile, the National Society’s volunteers got involved in providing medical services and organising health awareness and prevention campaigns in cooperation with several medical bodies.

First aid posts were also set up to provide basic health services. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has been closely following up on the situation in Morocco, and has mobilised its operations teams to provide the necessary support for the Moroccan Red Crescent. The Federation has also allocated a Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of 245,000 Swiss francs to procure and distribute food and non-food items to refill the basic stocks of the Moroccan National Society, and to provide essential services including first aid and psycho-social support.

This year’s unprecedented downpour surpassed 200 millimetres and led to the rise of water levels in rivers and in the flooding of valleys, an unfamiliar phenomenon which the country has not witnessed since the 1980s. –

Morocco heats up with 16 new solar energy plants worth 25 gigawatts.

Green Prophet Energy / energy  December 1, 2014

You might meet snake charmers in the square of Marrakech and also storytellers who tell a good tale. But there is one thing always true about Morocco: the sun always shines.

Foreign firms are eager to bank on Morocco’s attractive feed-in tariffs and catch some healthy profits from our sun. Solar energy companies like Martifer Solar ( from Portugal already has business in the United Arab Emirates. It’s common for European companies to go to European banks for financing then establish themselves in the Middle East and MENA region. This seems to be the only way forward to advance solar energy in the Middle East, always rife with conflict and instability.

The recent break up of the solar power consortium Desertec has been a huge disappointment to the renewable energy community. The idea was to create a pan-European North African, even Middle East energy grid with solar energy collected in the MENA region which could then be shipped via cables to Europe.
Despite the Desertec collapse (too many industrial cooks spoiled the broth), Europeans are still seeing green opportunities in the MENA region.

The Swiss company Sola Terra has recently announced its plan to set up no less than 16 photovoltaic (PV) plants in the super sunny area of southern Morocco.
The sites, totalling 25 megawatts of energy will be in the areas of Ourzazate, Ain Bni Mathar, Foum Al Oued, Boujdour, and Sebkat Tah. More locations will be announced soon.

Sola Terra has a thing for the Middle East and already operates in similarly shiny places like Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Turkey, and Morocco. “The sun, unlike oil energy, is not part of the economic culture of the Middle East, but that will change,” said an insistent David Heimhofer, Terra Sola’s president.
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Fes: The sights and smells of old Morocco

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Morocco’s Unprecedented Floods: Lessons Learned.
Sunday 30 November 2014 -Said Leghlid Columbus, Ohio

In light of the recent tragic climate events that claimed dozens of lives, cost millions of dollars and caused major disturbances to many lives all around Southern Morocco, many questions surfaced as to how prepared was Morocco for such major climate calamity.

It is naturally expected that in this electronic age people took to social media to deliver from their angles and perspectives raw footages of how they saw events unfold before their eyes. Citizen journalism characterized by its chaotic nature was competing with the official narration of events. The government sponsored media, which routinely broadcasts its information with measured editorials, protocols and bureaucratic fanfare, to rain in social order, and prove that things were under control, found itself back peddling to prove that it was under control.

This dichotomy between two points of views: One bureaucratic in nature, while the other is arbitrary, unsophisticated and raw. It presents Moroccans, the “consumers” of news, with far better choices than ever before. The tough dilemma of reality is that a lack of trust between the citizens and the authorities tend to flare up ferociously during times of crisis. Social media, in its raw chaotic form is far more credible than other official mediums such as television and radio.
In the case of recent floods, nature exposed the weaknesses of local governments as a result of lack of a choreographed first response to a disaster which proved the government was incompetent and unprepared to tackle the mountains of public health and safety and economic issues that popped out of nowhere, or did it?

To answer this question a short analysis I titled: Lessons Learned in order to breakdown this topic into manageable parts where a clear understanding of what should every citizen know and do when calamities like these strike. I will start with a disclaimer that I am not a disaster relief expert, and do not possess a magic answer to how to physically deal with it. I simply want to shed some light on what could be done to make every Moroccan an active participant in the prevention of loss of lives and property in case of a major disaster such as what we saw this week.

Right or wrong, one of the first victims of a natural disaster is leadership. Instinctively, people are generally the first responders to be present at the scene when a disaster happens. They tend to bravely use all available means to help if they can and when they cannot they sit aside and wait for help by calling the right number for emergency responders.

The second line of defense that assumes responsibility and is automatically charged with taking ownership of the disaster are the local emergency responders, known in Morocco as authorities. If they cannot deliver the necessary help due to lack of equipment and logistics, they will also sit it out, do what they can with the means they have, and escalate to higher authorities.

The chain of command tends to escalate upwards where the domino pieces are expected to push up hard against higher authorities to make things happen. In Morocco, the concentration of executive authority upstream is more complex and is concentrated at the highest levels of authority, because of its political economics and its hierarchy that micro manages priorities via strict chains of command.

The decision making process is limited by the available logistics to intervene in a coordinated and managed fashion. In Southern Morocco, this was the scenario where social order was rendered upside down because of the torrential rains that caused major floods, and the government did not have a plan in place to manage the broad risks the weather presented to people over major geographical locations stretching for a couple of hundreds of miles.

The magnitude of this natural disaster could render the response to it one of the least damaging assessments one can come up with in order to move away from finger pointing, blaming, and scapegoating which are typical of how people deal with natural disasters.

Morocco is no different than many other countries where disaster is part of people’s daily lives whether in hurricane prone areas in the US. All of us remember hurricane Katrina where I had the honor to volunteer in 2005, and the learning experience was touching and mostly vouched for the power of doing and organizing and getting things under control by an army of volunteers with the Red Cross, and a coordinated effort with authorities. One could also mention tsunami ravaged parts of Asia, and volcanoes that threaten people’s lives every day, earthquakes and mud slides in Latin America…etc. The common denominator here is to examine how to prepare and lessen the impact of such natural disasters on the public.

Based on the broader narratives that accompanied countless videos posted on various social media whether the now infamous pictures of two men on an overturned truck that drove over the dangerous waters and lost control, the helpless images of the many young men sitting on the hood of a public taxi before they were swept away to their deaths, the motorcyclist who was swept by the seemingly treacherous waters over a bridge, and who was later found dead, the daring men who were putting their lives in imminent danger while crossing a small bridge under which raging waters could move houses, all those scenes were from different parts of southern Morocco and had one question in common: Could those deaths have been prevented? The lessons learned from the floods of November 2014 could be broken down into three categories: infrastructural, safety related, and educational.

1. Infrastructural: The backbone of every country, infrastructure can tell whether a country is seriously and collectively managing all its resources, or if that country is barely getting by. Over the past decade, Morocco marked few milestones by linking “strategic” demographic cities via a system of highways that mark progress in the right direction. In large cities, the sewage and water drainage systems were built by the French and have not been overhauled to today’s drainage standards.

Other parts of the country mainly the south and south east remained practically neglected at all levels, and badly needed investments in linking the south and the south east with the rest of civilization are needed. Shelters to host disaster victims, adequate care centers in closer proximity to major rural parts of the south are nonexistent. People have to deplete their savings and travel long distances to the near care facilities in cases of disasters. A disaster in this case is a good reason to put infrastructure in place to care for people in remote parts of the south and the south east.

As we saw in many videos of the floods, zoning issues surfaced as one reason many homes were swept away. Peoples’ memories of floods tends to be short and be replaced with more construction in the same spots where creeks flooded years before. Strict zoning laws should be enforced to save lives and businesses that were built in those potentially dangerous zones. Some type of government sponsored insurance programs to help rural people cope with loss of homes might alleviate their fears of rebuilding are needed.

2. Safety Related: First responders without adequate equipment are no different than bystanders. There was a video of some firefighters hoisting a man down a treacherous ravine with some type of rope into raging waters without a safety vest or any gear that might save his life should he slip out of the rope. The whole scene looked dangerous and telling of the lack of training of the firefighters.Firefighters should be well trained for such disasters and be the professionals one will expect them to be.

First responders are critical to assessing the situation on the ground and making the right call for additional help. They should be empowered to make independent responsible calls for help without bureaucratic interventions. Technology can make that possible where the scene of a major damage can be clearly transmitted to other decision makers.

A coordinated effort of these first responders with others across large geographical regions could prove beneficial and very helpful in sending additional first responders to directly affected regions. So is the help with people who lose electricity, and water…First responders could be made of people from many competencies to rehearse for events like this and work together to prepare for disasters. That to me is an example of an efficient working government where resources could be dispatched between places for better effective responses.

Part of this safety lesson is public transportation: Drivers of Taxis should be re-educated not to take chances with people’s lives in the way they drive. Many are overworked and exhaustion could lead to making poor decisions such as crossing flooded roads and bridges and costing the lives of many passengers.
3. Educational: This is the disheartening part where citizens play a major role. Respect of nature is one of those issues that go unnoticed. People could be educated and warned not to take chances with reckless drivers that decide to cross flooded bridges. Programs to teach preventive first aid courses such as CPR and First Aid should be taught at schools and universities, lifeguard courses should be offered free of charge where there are swimming pools to prevent accidental drowning. Education should start at home and be disseminated through the vast channels available to the authorities.

Redundancies could be built in the system to prevent the domino effect so that if one part fails, it does not drag other parts with it. In the case of torrential rains that devastated Southern Morocco, no meteorology warnings were given to locals to evacuate to higher grounds, seek shelter in safe buildings, and stay clear of water streams in valleys and mountainous regions. I am not sure if a dialogue has already begun on how to tackle another disaster of such magnitude, but positioning Morocco for an eventual natural calamity should not wait for a day later.

‘Spectre,’ ‘King Tut’ and ‘The Book of the Dead’ Sail To Morocco: Leading with "Mission Impossible" and "The Red Tent," foreign shoots invested over $120 million in Morocco in 2014
Elsa Keslassy International Correspondent@elsakeslassy

After a four-year slowdown due to the economic recession and the Arab Spring shockwaves, Morocco is back with a bang and proving once again a hotspot for big U.S. shoots. “Mission Impossible 5,” “Queen of the Desert” and “A Hologram for the King” along with 30 other foreign films and TV productions sailed to Morocco in 2014, investing an estimated $120 million on local soil, a 420% year-on-year jump…..

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