The experience of a poor Brazilian state can inspire Morocco, an Arab country located in North Africa, to improve living conditions in the countryside. A delegation of government officials from Morocco travelled to the northern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte about two weeks ago, where they became familiar with the state's project for reducing rural poverty.
The program is funded by the World Bank (WB). The Moroccans visited the state, along with a consultant of the United Nations (UN), by invitation of the financial institution. Three IBM consultants were also in the delegation.
Moroccans visited rural production projects in Rio Grande do Norte
"Wherever there is organization, there is life and fair development," said Jercino Saraiva Maia, state coordinator at the program for Development with Solidarity. The program is responsible for the Project to Fight Rural Poverty, which is linked to the State Secretariat for Social Work and Action of Rio Grande do Norte.
The project encourages rural communities to organize, set up representative organizations, and then jointly define what their main problems are and what actions should be implemented in order for them to be solved. The community receives funding to execute the project.
According to Maia, the Moroccans left the state satisfied and determined to adapt the program to their country. The group stayed in Rio Grande do Norte from June 8 to 11 and visited actions that have already been implemented by the program in several communities.
These included a rural locality that started taking water from a dam and directing it to a reservoir, thus ensuring water supply to 23 households, another that made barrages in order to enable production of organic foods, one that carries out a project for producing and exporting nuts, and yet another one that formed a philharmonic band comprised of youths.
Action can be taken within the program in the infrastructure, production and social fields, according to Maia. From the total volume of funds used in each initiative, 75% comes from the World Bank, 15% from the state government, and 10% from the community itself.
The program started being implemented in the state in the 1980s and was perfected along the years. Since the beginning, it counts on support from the World Bank. Morocco, as Brazil, is a country in which the Gross Domestic Product is partly linked to agricultural production, therefore it has a vast rural community. Agriculture accounts for 40% of the country's workforce.
The Moroccan delegation was headed by the country's state secretary for Territorial Development, Abdeslam Al Mesbahi. The delegation also included province governors, mayors, representatives of government organizations, and ministerial advisors. A total of 17 people from the Arab country travelled to Rio Grande do Norte, in addition to four World Bank and UN consultants.
Last week, Rio Grande do Norte signed a deal to receive further funding from the World Bank for the program. Governor Wilma de Faria went to the Brazilian capital Brasília last Friday to close the agreement.
The bank is going to allocate US$ 22.5 million. The community and the government will make another US$ 7.5 million available, generating a total of US$ 30 million for the actions. The funds should finance 1,643 initiatives, which should involve 51,500 families from 165 municipalities in the state.