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Exclusionary Development: Knowledge and Accessibility in Rural Morocco Open Access

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In recent decades, there has been an increased awareness of the concentration of the poor in rural and underdeveloped areas and increased attention to scaled economic and multi-dimensional assessments as tools for targeting rural poverty. While this has led to new forms of development intervention in previously neglected regions across the Global South, in Morocco this system of poverty reduction continues to exclude key sites and stakeholders. This thesis asks how local state offices and non-state actors participate in or disrupt the structural systems of development in Morocco and what potential these local communities have for contributing to standardized knowledge production of poverty and development. I use participatory mapping workshops, interviews, and “studying up” strategies to answer questions of access – physical and social – to development planning and interventions. My findings indicate that the Moroccan rural development complex is structurally exclusionary to remote rural communities. The state and its partners have portrayed rural spaces as quickly rising out of poverty thanks to their decentralized and participatory development schemes, yet incongruently, local recipients in the least accessible areas live in spaces devoid of interventions. With all development practices inherently tied to state standards, any oversight or exclusion by state targeting is magnified by the same oversight of its development partners. The scale of targeting and evaluation in international metrics has contributed to this neglect, and the unfortunate result has been a feedback loop of inaccessibility for remote rural pockets of the country. I explain why one spatial indicator, village accessibility to social services, is an appropriate addition to poverty assessments and development targeting, drawing from my conversations with villagers in rural Tinghir Province and the results of my geospatial analysis.

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