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Title: A critical analysis of the introduction of essential oil distillation in the High Atlas of Morocco with reference to the role of gendered traditional knowledge
Author: Montanari, Bernadette
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 6197
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2012
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A new decentralisation policy in Morocco in line with international development best practice policies promises a close partnership with local communities to overcome local natural resource degradation, poverty and out-migration. Community-based resource management is believed to enhance these strategies. This thesis investigates and evaluates the mechanisms of implementation for a project to produce essential oil in a Berber community of the High Atlas Mountains, and seeks to examine the role of gendered traditional practices in this context. Using ethnobotanical and anthropological approaches, the research identifies factors that jeopardise the successful implementation of the project. At the macro level, the study suggests that a decentralisation policy claiming to be participatory does not address the central local issues, and does not build on community norms and customs that might better facilitate implementation of the project. It is shown that the aim of the government is not to integrate the community as an equal partner in decision-making, to promulgate local socio-economic development, but rather to act as an employer of a local labour force. Within the community, the project was initially perceived as promising socioeconomic leverage, but has so far benefited only a handful of individuals. Local lineage politics and traditional political culture threatens community development. Although these also influence women's interests, my results show that traditional knowledge practices, especially those of women, are crucial to the success of the enterprise. The study reveals, however, that the community possesses inherent key features that would facilitate community-based resource management. These refer to the communities' internal organisation, a population eager to earn an income, and an abundance of aromatic and medicinal plants, particularly thyme and lavender, from which a valuable essential oil is extracted. The communities could therefore benefit from the onward sale of these products in the country's lucrative herbal market.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: HD Industries. Land use. Labor