This document presents the main findings of a study carried out between 1994 and 1995 in three villages in Eastern Morocco - each representative of a different environmental context. The study concerns gender roles in household production systems and decision making mechanisms in farm and household management, and analyses some of their implications for development and project design. The paper concludes that the main lesson to be learned from the case studies is that:
development initiatives and projects need to take into account the variations in the constraints, perceptions and priorities of different communities and in the various social groups within them
there is a need to analyse and address the roles of women in production and decision-making as these roles are important even when they are not recognized or are not visible (as is often the case in conservative societies)
it is necessary to recognize that, in subsistence economies, the dynamics of economic, social and cultural change differ from the corresponding dynamics in more monetized or cash-crop-oriented societies
programme development and project design must offer multiple options to poor communities that tend to rely on a variety of survival strategies to reduce risk
differences in perceptions between communities and planners regarding the causes of and solutions to environmental degradation can be great and it is essential to involve people in the analysis of causes and solutions and build on their knowledge
often, unless special efforts are made, only the richer sections of the communities manage to take advantage of modern organizations such as cooperatives and range users associations
Finally, the research illustrates the importance of organizing people's participation and reducing overdependency on the state in order to promote sustainable and equitable development.