Women boosting the energy transition in Morocco

Morocco is a country in social and economic transition, suffering from both structural unemployment and significant inequalities: between urban and rural populations, and especially between men and women.  Morocco is also, according to the IPCC, one of the countries in Africa most threatened by climate change, with increased pressure on natural resources. The semi-arid argan forests are threatened by desertification, and the northern mountains are subject to air pollution, soil erosion and over exploitation of water resources.

Solar cookers: a sustainable and committed alternative 

The vast majority of rural households in the  regions of Souss Massa and Tangier-Tetouan. still rely on firewood. Wood and butane gas are traditionally used in rural areas for cooking food. However, the combustion of these materials has a significant impact on people’s health and the environment.

WECF and local partners, the Association for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development (AERDD), the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Research and Conservation of Argan Trees (FMVIRSA), Gesti-y Disseny (GEDI) and the Moroccan Network for Social and Solidarity Economy (REMESS) decided to organise trainings on the use and dissemination of simple, affordable solar solutions such as cookers, dryers and ovens).

The objectives of these trainings are multiple: they aim to take into account the environment and the climate as well as the integration of women in economic, social and political development in the country. As sustainable alternatives, these cookers contribute to the involvement and recognition of women in the energy transition. The cookers will be manufactured locally by a social enterprise, and will benefit rural populations as well as agricultural, argan oil and fisheries cooperatives or small businesses, in the different region.

Promoting solar energy and strengthening the skills of women in cooperatives

Forty  young women technicians were selected by WECF, AERDD and GEDI and  trained in manufacturing solar thermal technologies. They will be further supported to create  their own  energy cooperatives with some of them becoming “solar ambassadors”,  promoting their locally manufactured solutions. Rural businesses will also be motivated to adopt sustainable production methods through a capacity building programme on sound  management and sustainable production, aimed at 600 women in the Souss Massa region,of which  120 leaders of rural cooperatives. All these women, already engaged in the local food economy, will be able to actively contribute to the energy transition and sustainable development policy of their territories.

The project work contributes to regional climate plans in two regions by producing and marketing locally affordable solar solutions, sources of local green jobs, while improving the living conditions and incomes of rural populations most vulnerable to climate change. At the same time it strengthens women’s rights and priorities regarding climate policies.

The first training in Tetouan: Manufacturing solar cookers  

Early December 2020, WECF’s Moroccan and French partners trained young technicians and trainers to manufacture solar cookers in two regions of Morocco. Participants were able to benefit from practical sessions of cutting, assembly and assembly of the material as well as theoretical contributions on solar energy, its use and its benefits.  The ultimate goal of the trainings is the creation of women’s energy cooperatives to commercialise these simple and affordable solar solutions. Creating green jobs will enable especially young women to improve their incomes and living conditions.

The second training in the Souss-Massa region.

From March 29 to April 2, 2021, it was the turn of twenty young technicians and engineers from the Souss Massa region of Morocco to be trained in the manufacture of solar cookers. The training consisted of preparation, cutting, and assembling of the cookers but also understanding the issues related to solar energy and its use for cooking and processing food products. Following the December training, 20 young women from the Souss-Massa region of Morocco took the first of a series of training courses to integrate them professionally into the field of renewable energy. They were selected and accompanied by our local partner, the Association of Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development (AERDD).

Despite the health crisis, our trainers and partners from FSD and INES, the national institute for Solar Energy in France, travelled to Agadir for a week to lead this training on the manufacture of solar cookers. Enthusiasm and good humour were on the agenda for this successful week, which resulted in the manufacture of a dozen cookers and a demonstration session of their use, with jams, meat and tagines cooking.Many local elected officials and journalists were able to taste these dishes cooked in the cookers and discover the full potential of solar energy, in a region hard hit by the climate crisis, but which nevertheless enjoys an exceptional rate of sunshine (more than 300 days a year), the highest in all of Morocco.

A comprehensive support programme for the professional integration of women in the renewable energy sector

In the coming months, the young technicians will benefit from several other training courses as well as an accompanying programme for the creation of the first local 100% female solar energy sector in Agadir. The future cooperative will allow young women to manufacture and market these simple and affordable solar equipment for both rural and urban populations. The cooperative will be an opportunity for young women to create their jobs while actively contributing to the energy transition and sustainable development policy of the Souss Massa region.

So far, we have trained 40 young woman technicians in Morocco (20 in Tetouan (north), 20 in Agadir (south) who will form 2 solar energy cooperatives, with the aim of producing locally different types of solar equipments for the transformation of agricultural products, and for daily use by local rural households.

The FAREDEIC project (Women of Argan and Rural Committed to Inclusive Economic Development and Climate) is supported financially by the Ecological Transition Agency (ADEME) and the French Development Agency (AFD). Conducted over 3 years, the FAREDEIC project, aims to promote a model of territorial climate policy including gender, while contributing to the improvement of the living conditions of local populations.