Out in the Cold: Development Transforms Moroccan City But Doesn’t Address Most Difficult Problems

This article was published in U.S. News and World Report. Find it here: “Out in the Cold

By Olivia Fore

RABAT, MOROCCO – AT night under the orange light of new street lamps, residents stroll along the Bouregreg River. Vendors sell toys and kites; children ride miniature cars on the pavement and musicians entertain a friendly audience.

A new Grand Theater, still under construction, looms in the shadows. A new bridge extends tram service to commuters from the city of Salé, across the river.

The five-year “Rabat City of Lights” program launched in 2014 aims to put Morocco‘s administrative capital on equal footing with other major world cities by “promoting its cultural heritage, preserving green space, improving the economy, access to social services, governance and road infrastructure,” according to the country’s Ministry of Culture and Communication.

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Morocco’s environmental movement finds a champion in a former professional surfer


By Celia Heudebourg

CASABLANCA, Morocco – Saad Abid’s phone rings constantly. In the space of an hour, he answers five calls, juggles plans with colleagues and texts extensively, keeping everyone clued in on happenings he has just been informed of. He has the urgency of a trader and the diplomacy of a politician, but his washed out jeans, bright orange G-Shock watch, and palm tree-printed messenger bag paint a different picture of the nature of his work: environmental activism.

“I have a vision, a strategy and I want to apply it.

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A Water Problem



SBAA ROUADI, Morocco– Karime Zaraoui, 30, stands barefoot in a stream of water, his feet sinking into the moist earth that his father purchased from French colonizers, the land that will one day be his own. Karime worries about one thing; water.

“It’s not a drought, but the land suffers from scarcity of water,” Zaraoui said. He predicts within 15 years, a lack of water will make it hard to cultivate the land, which grows primarily cilantro and olives.

The Zaraoui family’s property lies in what is called Sbaa Rouadi, a small cluster of villages near Fez.

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Olive growth provides a sustainable way forward in Morocco

Olives are more than food for vendor Mohamed Filale – they are a way of earning a living. In 30 years of working at a fruit stand in Rabat, Filale has supported himself and his family by selling one of Morocco’s most popular foods.

“We live off of the olives,” he said.

This story is the same for numerous competing vendors lining the streets in Morocco’s “souks,” or markets. Olives are a staple in the Moroccan diet, and they are also one of the country’s most prominently exported items. But a serious problem looms: the World Bank projects water availability in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region could drop by 50 percent per capita by 2050.

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