Project dates: July 2020-July 2021

Coordinated by Driss El Ghazouani

Financed by Pawanka Fund

Project context: One of the largest forms of economic empowerment for Amazigh people in Morocco, the Argan tree, is rapidly becoming an endangered resource due to intense cultivation and increased demand for Argan oil (heavily used in the cosmetic industry globally), threatening the livelihoods of the Amazigh.  The Argan tree is a primary source of income and self-sufficiency for the Amazigh women, the main processors of Argan tree by-products which include the fruit, oil, and animal feed. This project’s relevancy lies in its ability to leverage this demand for Argan oil as a strategy to address climate change by promoting conservation and sustainable use and increase of the Argan forests whilst also ensuring the economic well-being of the Amazigh people. The Argan tree can withstand severe droughts as it is endemic to arid climates, has deep roots that stop soil erosion, and remains green during drought periods by remaining dormant until it senses rain/water. Possible risks include ensuring economic well-being of the community in the process of reaching conservation goals. The high income return of Argan oil could sway the communities to focus more on the financial benefits than the conservation and sustainable uses of the tree. To mitigate and address these challenges, the project will encourage increasing and rehabilitating the Argan tree orchards in areas of implementation, and facilitate inter-generational dialogues to transfer indigenous knowledge that is still used for the conservation of the Argan tree and how Amazigh water cultural practices are used for the protection of water sources.