Launch of WAFIRA Project

HUELVA, SPAIN- ‘Women as Financially Independent Rural Actors’ (WAFIRA), a project funded by the European Union through the Migration Partnership Facility (MPF) was successfully launched in Huelva, Spain on 28 March 2022. 

WAFIRA is implemented by the Secretary of State for Migration (SEM) of the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration of Spain in conjunction with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and in collaboration with the Spanish Agri-Food Cooperatives- Andalusia, Spain and the Moroccan Employment Agency–ANAPEC.

WAFIRA (which means abundance in Arabic) seeks to enhance the decades-long GECCO scheme fostered by the Spanish government, enabling circularity between Morocco and Spain to cover seasonal demands in Spain’s agricultural sector. Specifically, the project aims to address the critical policy gap relating to the lack of a comprehensive framework for the reintegration of Moroccan women engaging in seasonal agricultural work harvesting strawberries each year in Huelva, Spain, under GECCO.

Through WAFIRA, 250 Moroccan women will be provided targeted reintegration support via business skills and entrepreneurship development training and financial assistance. In this regard, WAFIRA aims to harness the potential of these women to improve their livelihoods and income-generating prospects and launch businesses, capitalising on the knowledge and experience gained through the GECCO scheme.

The WAFIRA launch event gathered delegates who joined onsite in Huelva and virtually. Attendees included SEM, ANAPEC, ILO, the Spanish Agri-Food Cooperatives of Andalusia, the European Commission, and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD). 

Ms. Magdalena Jagiello, Deputy Head of the Legal Pathways and Integration Unit of the European Commission's Directorate General of Migration and Home Affairs, inaugurated the launch event stressing the importance of WAFIRA as an intervention that enhances the developmental impact of the circular migration and mobility scheme between Spain and Morocco. Ms. Jagiello commended the project’s integration of a capacity building component that seeks to strengthen the reintegration capacity of Moroccan partners.

Ms. Ainara Dorremochea, Deputy Director of Legal Affairs of SEM, expressed the Government of Spain’s commitment to the programme stating that “WAFIRA has strong potential to bolster the GECCO circular migration scheme leading to developmental benefits for both Spain and Morocco”.

The WAFIRA project has three phases. The first phase is synchronised with the pre-departure period, which entails the selection and training of 250 Moroccan women who have previously participated in the GECCO circular migration scheme. Thus far, 50 women have been mobilised to Spain and have received ILO-certified pre-departure business skills training. This process will be repeated for 200 women expected to arrive in Spain at the end of 2022.

The second phase involves further training on comprehensive business and entrepreneurship development skills which will provide a solid base of knowledge for the women to formulate business plans. The final stage of WAFIRA involves reintegration in Morocco, with the women receiving technical support from ANAPEC and financial support in the way of grants from WAFIRA to finance their business and income-generating activities. As a parallel activity, the capacity of Moroccan institutions to implement reintegration activities for circular migrant workers upon return will also be strengthened.

Mr. Ralph Genetzke, Director of ICMPD’s Brussels Mission, which implements the MPF, remarked that “WAFIRA can serve as a best practice example for other such schemes in Morocco and similar contexts, demonstrating how a greater emphasis and focus on reintegration in circular migration schemes can contribute to the improvement of the socio-economic prospects of migrant workers.”

Mr. Nourredine Benkhalil, Secretary General of the Ministry of Economic Inclusion, Small Business, Employment and Skills of Morocco stated that WAFIRA can result in a triple-win for all actors involved in the Spain-Morocco circular migration scheme.

You can find more information on WAFIRA, here