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Blog Mark Wildschut: Morocco

The chaos surrounding the Medina (old town) caught me by surprise whilst I disembarked the bus from the Marrakesh airport. A somewhat elderly man riding a cart and wagon was non-verbally communicating with a group of honking youngsters on their scooters which continued maneuvering agile between the mass of people in the narrow streets. I confirmed to myself that we made the right decision, get away from my desk in Holland and make this Msc. thesis a field research. I woke up from a recuperating sleep in the quiet of my Riad and was eager to join a first field trip. Along with four colleagues from the University of Marrakesh we drove the car to the project site. The primary job was to gain information about their current land usage, determine the environmental and social problems that we may have overlooked and also take inventory of the mitigation techniques they already tried.

Distributed over two days we were able to visit the whole area. The site was more barren than the image I painted in my head. Imagine a thick crust of hard sand with on top of that a layer of gravel the size building bricks. A few small and slightly green patches with cactus farms broke the barren landscape. It’s the end of the dry season so even the cactus are lacking water. The project is roughly distributed in four “dours” (small communities) and the people are positive about the project, although the degree varied between dours. There was not a big conflict on the interventions, the challenge was to convince them that there is no hidden agenda. Reluctant to trust a foreign organisation accompanied by varying experiences with the local government made some inhabitants very skeptical. In the end this challenge was overwon by the, in my eyes, excellent conversational skills of the facilitator.

The weeks after, I found an appartement and I withdrew. Preparing for a busy month of interviews and questionnaires.

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