RABAT — The Islamic state of Morocco, also known as the “place the sun sets”, has made its place as one of the world’s prime tourist locations. Despite its unique scenery and rich culture, however, the Moroccan population faces a myriad of hurdles due to the prominence of poverty. Why is Morocco poor?
Poverty in Morocco arises from factors such as climate, topography, and social structures; with the efforts of NGOs and the national government, measure have been put in place to help the country move in a positive direction.
Although poverty is a national phenomenon in Morocco, it is primarily concentrated in the rural, more mountainous regions. According to the Rural Poverty Portal, out of the four million people that live below the poverty line, three million reside in rural areas. This colossal margin stems from differing levels of development in regions with harsh climates and rugged terrain.
The United Nations Development Programme states that for every 1 percent increase in inequality, poverty will increase by 6 percent, exemplifying the correlation between the two. Additionally, 5 percent of farmers own one-third of the land, leaving the bare minimum for the majority. Subsequently, fundamental policy change is needed to improve poverty in Morocco.
With 75 percent of the poor population depending on agriculture for their survival, arable land is a scarcity. Additionally, the mountainous soil is susceptible to erosion and cannot support many families, let alone commercial farming. Climate fluctuations further hinder farming as a sustainable income and provide an answer to the question ‘Why is Morocco poor?’
Due to a lack of infrastructure and training, most Moroccans face the dilemma of being caught in the vicious cycles of subsistence farming and poverty. The low levels of infrastructure make construction and travel difficult. Schools in rural areas tend to be too far for most children to travel to on a daily basis. This directly results in parents urging the youth to enter the labor market at an early age, instead of obtaining an education.
Very few lucrative job opportunities are open to these children when they become adults due to a lack of technical skills. As of 2015, the literacy rate for adults was only 71.7 percent, which, although low, is an improvement from the meager 55.1 percent in 2008.
While statistically the poverty rate has drastically declined to 4.2 percent, the reality of poverty in Morocco is magnified when we consider that 15.5 percent of the population make ends meet on about $3.10 per day.
Hope is on the horizon for poverty in Morocco with the implementation of national initiatives such as the National Human Development Initiative and the Green Morocco strategy. The primary goal of these initiatives is to target communities with low levels of development and to modernize them. This then allows for those communities to become a part of the world market.
An estimated 40,000 domestic NGOs have worked to deliver basic services such as education, water and electricity. These NGOs use a target approach rather than a universal one in order to maximize the potential of their resources.
Why is Morocco poor? The North African country has yet to achieve desirable living conditions for its entire populace. Alternatively, with the goals that they have set and the accomplishments that they have made over the past decade the country has a positive and vibrant future ahead.
– Tanvi Wattal