MOROCCO – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International NGO GiveDirectly have issued an additional US$4 million to support Moroccan agricultural cooperatives suffering from recent economic shocks, including the COVID-19 pandemic, drought, inflation, and the global food crisis.

At the end of September, the U.S. Congress approved US$2 million for a USAID program for Morocco, under special legislation aiming to alleviate the worst effects of the food crisis.

GiveDirectly, an NGO based in New York that specializes in digital cash transfers, is providing US$2 million in matching funds through the Cooperative Financing Program (CFP), which has already distributed US$5.5 million to 607 cooperatives in the Marrakech-Safi and Beni Mellal-Khenifra regions, assisting nearly 4,000 Moroccans according to the same source.

An additional 486 cooperatives in the regions of Draa-Tafilalet, Fes-Meknes and Oriental have been enrolled in the program, bringing the total number of cooperatives to 1,093 and number of beneficiaries to over 7,000 people.

The Cooperative Financing Program implemented by GiveDirectly, provides direct grants of 90,000 dirhams to cooperatives working across a variety of economic sectors, including agriculture, handicrafts and tourism.

This unique program provides cash infusions to cooperatives, enabling them to purchase equipment and raw materials. It also provides training to promote the cooperatives’ growth and resilience, especially during periods of economic hardship.

More than 59% of grant recipients thus far are women, and 32% are youth, said the statement, noting that over 56% of CFP-assisted cooperatives work in agriculture, which is the focus for this new US$4 million infusion.

With this new funding, USAID anticipates that more than 330 agriculture and agribusiness cooperatives in the most vulnerable provinces of the Draa-Tafilalet, Fes-Meknes, and Oriental regions will receive cash grants.

CFP cash grants will strengthen household and community resilience to economic shocks and stresses, as well as increase opportunities for women, youth, and people with disabilities.

“The Cooperative Financing Program is a critical partnership with Moroccans at a grassroots level,” said Salma Kadiri, USAID Project Manager, adding that these additional funds are targeted at Morocco’s agricultural sector, which had been struggling with the effects of the pandemic and drought and is now dealing with increasing energy and materials prices.

“Our hope is that this assistance will help those most in need,” she said.

Jamila Abass, country director for GiveDirectly in Morocco, said, “With the global food crisis, rising living costs, extreme weather, and drought, more families are at risk of falling into poverty. Providing cash grants to vulnerable agricultural cooperatives is critical in mitigating these risks.”

For over 60 years, the United States and Morocco have worked together to make substantial improvements in the lives of Moroccan citizens through USAID development programming.

Currently, USAID partners with the Moroccan government in education, economic growth, governance and community development.

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