Civil Society, Development & Aid, Headlines, Middle East & North Africa

MOROCCO: Local Government Holds Up Development

Abderrahim El Ouali

CASABLANCA, Jun 13 2008 (IPS) - Lack of political will on the part of some municipalities is hindering an ambitious national plan for human development, activists say.

On May 20, 2005, King Mohamed VI launched the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH). The King said then that the initiative aims “to consolidate political gains by promoting economic, social and cultural rights of citizens.”

Following the royal speech, a priority programme was set to fight precariousness and exclusion with a fund of 250 million dirhams (22.72 million euros). Another programme was set later to cover the period from 2006 to 2010 with a fund of 1 billion dirhams (more than 90 million euros). The fund is intended to focus on encouraging income generating activities, capacity building, and access to basic services and equipment.

Local committees of governance have been set up in 30 cities and 403 rural communities. But in several of these, projects are still pending.

In Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city that has taken 15 percent of the funds dedicated to the priority programme, projects are not going as planned, especially in marginalised areas. The Moulay Rachid municipality, for instance, with a population suffering mainly from precariousness, has found its INDH projects still in limbo.

The delay in implementing the projects is mainly due to “lack of political will on the part of the municipality,” Mohamed Bouichi, member of the local governance committee told IPS.


By law, the head of the municipality presides over the local committee of governance of the initiative. “But the president (of the Moulay Rachid municipality) has never taken part in the meetings of the committee, and this does not allow the other members to decide about projects,” Bouichi said.

Several interview requests from IPS to the municipality of Moulay Rachid were ignored.

Bouichi said that the committee selected some 50 development projects in partnership with civil society groups in 2007. “We will no more wait for the president, and we will decide in his absence,” he said.

The lack of will on the part of municipalities is weighing heavily on some civil society associations. Sanaa Naji, member of the Atlas Basin Association for Development (ABAD), is leading a project to build capacities in new technologies for information and communication in the Moulay Rachid Sidi Othmane prefecture in Casablanca. The association has formed two partnerships with INDH and with Professional Training, the official board for professional capacity building within the public sector.

“In the first year of the programme, 30 persons with a secondary school education level will receive professional training,” she told IPS. The project “aims to build capacities among young people and women especially.”

But the association has not managed to build any partnership with the municipality. “The municipality council is not concerned with development but with elections only,” she said.

This seems far from being an isolated case. Allal Kotani, member of the central bureau of the al-Mawahib (Talents) association, told IPS that his association had decided to work completely outside the INDH frame.

“This is not because of the goals of the initiative, but because of the way municipalities treat associations,” he said.

The al-Mawahib association was founded in 1965 and has more than 80 local sections all over the country. Since then, it has been holding education and capacity building programmes among youngsters.

“We have always been working in human development,” Kotani said. Yet, municipalities “have not understood what is partnership with associations. They treat them as if they were asking for charity.”

Some of the associations have decided to work independently. Al-Mawahib has “its own human development projects, and is implementing them with its own means and with other partners inside and outside Morocco,” Kotani said.

 
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