Managing mountains in the Atlas Mountains


Migration and Development is implementing a project to manage the watersheds and agroecosystem of Mount Sirwa in Morocco. Working with organizations Terre et Humanisme Maroc and Terre Humanisme PESI, Migration and Development is improving livelihoods in the territories of Assaisse and Sirwa.

These territories have been negatively affected by climate change-induced degradation of the environment, which is causing scarcer and more violent rains, destroying cultivated areas downstream. This problem is exacerbated by overgrazing.

Migration and Development’s project, called ACACTAE, is working to preserve the Mount Sirwa communities and environment, working closely with the agrarian communities and local authorities. ACACTAE has four main components: involving people in land and agro-pastoral change processes; adapting governance systems to manage territorial vulnerabilities; developing agro-ecological practices and economic potential of the territories; and generating and disseminating knowledge and innovations.

As a result of the ACACTAE project, five agrarian communities now have formal coordination with their local government on the management of the agroecosystem. A multi-stakeholder framework has been created to construct this new governance. Municipalities and administrations are taking climate change and the preservation of the agroecosystem into account in their planning. Agroecological practices are used by local actors and integrated into the agropastoral system.

One of the tangible results of the project has been the development of catchment areas in rivers. This was done in several stages: a watershed was chosen and delimited by white stones; grazing was forbidden for three years; small terraces and gutters were built to retain rainwater; and seeds of local wild plants were collected and sown in the area. After three years, the plant cover will be restored, offering a grazing resource, and the community can then consider planting fruit trees that are suitable to the climate (mainly almond trees). This initiative has been undertaken entirely by the local community and has met great success.

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