A A little more Born in Algeria over a century ago, Boujemâa Lamali was adopted by French colonial administrators in Morocco. His mission is to revive the country’s artistic pottery tradition. So Lamari set up a school in Safi on the Atlantic coast. The city has become a hub for craftsmen. Prior to the pandemic, about 2,000 of them officially worked on Safi’s 212 registered pottery. Thousands have afflicted books. In total, Morocco’s crafts sector employs 2.3 million people, one-fifth of the country’s workforce, accounting for 7%. GDP..
But today, the winding alleys of Safi’s famous Colline Depotier (Potters Hill) are quiet. Due to covid-19, tourists who ran around the street and bought pottery left.Morocco GDP In 2020, it decreased by about 7%. Many Safi pottery have been closed. For the first time in generations, most of the craftsmen are unemployed or hanging on a thread.
“Divorce has skyrocketed,” says the elder. “What can men do when they go home every day without doing anything for their families?” The government tried to help the unemployed, but only those who officially worked were eligible for a monthly distribution of $ 220. there is. Locals say craftsmen are moving “in large numbers” to the desert in search of jobs as day laborers on large-scale road construction projects.
The central bank cut interest rates to a record low of 1.5% last year to help businesses. A state-sponsored loan guarantee program paid 80,000 SMEs 50 billion dirhams ($ 5.56 billion). Still, in September the government estimated that 35% of the craft business was permanently closed.
“Credits alone don’t help,” says Abdelkarim Boudlal, who runs a store that sells pottery in Marrakech. “What we need is a way to reduce operating costs, such as reducing rent. We don’t want to borrow when we don’t have customers.” That’s the main problem for many Moroccan artisans. “Most of our clients come from Europe and the United States, so when there are no planes, there are no tourists, no clients, no demand,” says Hicham Tabii, one of Safi’s oldest family potters. I will.
The government is working on that too. A quarter of Moroccans are vaccinated at least once more than most developing countries. The purpose is, of course, to save lives, but it is also to signal tourists that the kingdom is safe. Most international flights will resume on June 15th.
Even if tourists return little by little, Safi craftsmen can learn lessons from other communities. Tamegroute, a Berber pottery village in the east, does not suffer much. The craftsman has been selling their products online for over a decade. Perhaps many of Safi’s craftsmen will do the same soon. Tabii points out that the city’s potters have survived crises, including war, in the past. “We change our strategy,” he says.
This article was published in the printed Middle East and Africa section under the heading “Pottery in pieces”.
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