Aït Ourir has a population of approximately 40,000 inhabitants and is located at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, around 40 km east of the city of Marrakesh. The nearby western coastal area of Morocco is the economic heart of the country. Agriculture is an important pillar of the economy in the region, with citruses, olives, tobacco and grains among its main products. Morocco continues to be a socially divided country, where certain classes of society are often discriminated against.
Since 1985, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Aït Ourir.
Thousands of children between the ages of 7 and 17 are engaged in various forms of work in the informal economy. All children must attend school in Morocco, but it is common for girls, especially in low-income families, to be taken out of school at a young age in order to support their families at home. Secondary and tertiary school enrolment is also much lower for girls. From 2018 to 2020 there was a 9% increase in the rate of dropout and repetition at high schools and colleges. The environment in which children work can be dangerous and harsh, and some children also experience abuse in the workplace. Without training, many of these children will face great difficulties as adults.
Morocco was originally settled by Berber populations but is now predominantly Arab, although there are still Berber communities in rural areas. These farmers often lack access to education and live in poverty. Many of them therefore migrate to the larger cities such as Marrakesh in search of job opportunities. People from rural areas often do not hold professional qualifications and therefore find it hard to get formal jobs in the city. They often lack official documents for their children, such as birth certificates. Around 5% of children born in Morocco go unregistered. Children who are not registered at birth cannot access basic rights and services.