A Model to Implement Moroccan Development
Introduction: A Model for a Model
In terms of human development potential, Morocco is a nation of immense promise. It is where gifted fortunes of nature (including agricultural) come together with dynamic social development Frameworks that could launch the country into a bottom-up haven in Africa and the Near East of community-managed projects and change.
These Frameworks are intended to initiate human development which is participatory, decentralized, and sustainable. People-driven initiatives that the Frameworks could enable are, for example, programs where girls and women define and achieve what they want in their communities, while learning laws that advance and protect their status in the family and society. The Frameworks could help youth pull back from the risks of having exceedingly difficult life experiences. The Moroccan development approach also provides a basis for innovative (and organic) agriculture that builds and retains value and sees rural people and their associations plan and create new projects to meet their needs.
Sadly, these and other essential human development outcomes are not happening in Morocco to the extent hoped for and needed. There is--what I have come to describe after 25 years of observation and engagement--an abysmal pace of rural sustainable development. There are few good examples of application of participatory development methods by government agencies or officials, though these methods are codified in national charters and policies. However, this is largely not the fault of the personnel and officials, but because they have not been given training as to how to facilitate inclusive community planning. The social discontent born from chronic poverty has boiled over into disruption and localized demonstrations. Considering the overall ineffectiveness of Moroccan development programs--however progressive their founding visions--there is reason to be seriously concerned that the rate of fulfillment will not at any time soon outpace the growing dissatisfaction.
For the majority of people, the application of the combined national initiatives for development is not seeming consequential. The urban-rural stratification remains alarming, even as they both generally share in poverty. Moroccan rural families live with great agricultural and human development possibilities, and at the same time with a basic lack of achievement of projects in: water for schools, irrigation, and clean drinking; rural women’s and children’s education; completing the agricultural value-chain; and in sustainable empowerment.
The problem is that Morocco’s programs for national growth and development through people’s participation are not being orchestrated together. Integrating these programs would enable their mutual reinforcement to promote accelerated growth and success of development initiatives. Commenting on the calls in Morocco, publicly by King Mohammed VI , that the nation must now reconsider its development model: I submit that it is specifically the model to implement the nation’s development model that requires the major reevaluation and overhaul.
The dynamic Moroccan development model includes the six Frameworks to promote human development discussed in this essay. Their guiding premises, both individually and taken together, promote sub-national agency and community-controlled development. This essay analyzes Morocco’s development model components and provides new recommendations for their reforms and synergistic connections to encourage greater successful outcomes.
Morocco’s model to advance its human development, emphasizing the disadvantaged people and regions and resting on participatory democratic methods and decentralization, is transferable to other countries. The successful unfolding of Morocco’s development approach, guided by its national Frameworks, bears existential consequences for itself and for what Morocco is in a position to inspire in Africa and the Middle East.
Moroccan Frameworks for Sustainable Development
The following six Frameworks form the pillar of people’s development in Morocco. Included, are suggestions for the integration of these pillars so that they will reinforce each other and enhance their collective development potential.
These Moroccan Frameworks set out to structurally guide community and national growth:
1) The Municipal Charter, amended in 2010, requires the creation of multi-year community development plans that are formed by people’s participation;
2) The National Initiative for Human Development was launched in 2005 to provide access to sub-nationally managed funding for multidimensional development projects in rural and urban communities;
3) The Decentralization Roadmap, first unveiled in 2008, innovatively synthesizes three pathways--delegation, deconcentration, and devolution--to empower regions, provinces, and municipalities in development and self-determination;
4) The Green Morocco Plan, founded in 2008, recognizes that essential contributions are needed along the entire agricultural value-chain, from seed to processing, to overcome the systemic poverty that afflicts most rural households;
5) Morocco’s Family Code, Moudawana, was reformed in 2004 to promote equality between men and women; and
6) A variety of youth leadership programs have been initiated which are intent on involving the nation’s young people in decision-making through civil associations and community initiatives.
There are indeed other important and forward-thinking national developmental approaches, such as: Morocco’s push for a regional bloc and African unity; encouraging laws for civil and cooperative organizations to grow; renewable energy actions (which, however, should be realigned to be more household-driven); the idea to preserve culture while incorporating human development benefits ; and a trade outlook that attempts to balance free trade, integrated regional markets, and rewarding domestic markets for good product. Nonetheless, it is the six Frameworks listed above that could set the guidelines needed for these and other programs and policies to productively, inclusively, and equitably unfold.
The questions this essay addresses are: how can the six Frameworks better fulfill their individual purposes? And how can the Frameworks work or relate with each other to create human development that is sustained by the local community beneficiaries, with support of decentralized administrations and partnerships?
To Morocco’s lasting credit there already exist key laws, policies, programs--the Constitution itself--to promote development projects that reflect locally shared priorities and have participatory decision-making and governing arrangements. The lack of rural development is predominantly due not to lack of opportunities but to the poor implementation of the existing Frameworks, the continued pervasive poverty, and widespread gender biases. Morocco has declared positions on sustainable development that could result in successful, scaled community movements that engage and improve the lives of all society, if applied correctly.
The outstanding potential of the Moroccan agricultural economy is that it can be the financial engine to build the people’s projects, in education, health, new businesses, and empowerment. The organization and process necessary to achieve sustainable, revenue-generating enterprises is supported by Moroccan laws, and prototypes of community projects have proven successful. Fortunately, social conditions and opportunities are such that a significantly more accomplished Moroccan model potentially could be at hand in a not too distant future.
Morocco’s Municipal Charter
The first Framework, Morocco’s Municipal Charter, requires locally elected representatives to create multi-year development plans derived from people’s participation in the determination of local projects. This could and should be a major pathway for sustainable development to take hold, due to the fact that people’s participation (along with finance) is the key factor of sustainability. However, in Morocco there is a constant challenge: elected members to municipal councils, who are given the responsibility to carry out the community plans, are typically not trained in facilitating participatory project methods. Representatives (and other community members) would highly benefit from applied learning workshops to effectively fulfill the development-related articles of the Municipal Charter.
After all, much of Morocco’s development success essentially depends upon: 1) dispersing the skills to create and assist inclusive community planning meetings, and 2) implementing the projects that become designed by the people, who are the project beneficiaries and managers. The Municipal Charter--directing the administrative tier closest to the people--establishes an avenue for the success of participatory development. People-driven projects, instituted in the Municipal Charter, are necessary for sustainable development and actualization of the other Frameworks that compose the Moroccan model.
Catalyzing widespread, inclusive development projects, means first implementing experiential training programs for university students, school teachers, technicians, civil society members, elected officials, and local people, for example, to be active agents of participatory development. Through training-by-doing, the aforementioned municipal development plans can reflect the actual will of the people in regards to the projects and future they most want.
Without local representatives knowing how to implement people’s participation in development, and without the local people aware of this vital right, plans are typically fashioned in a top-down manner with impossible or unrealistic levels of uniformity. It has come to the point where the statutory requirement to create community plans through genuine participatory processes is now seeming rhetorical. Skills-building in facilitating local consensus as well as gender- and youth-based dialogue to understand the different needs among the different demographic groups, are absolutely critical if these dimensions of the Municipal Charter will be effectively delivered.
The National Initiative for Human Development
The second Framework, Morocco’s National Initiative for Human Development, is a national fund for infrastructure projects, capacity-building, social and cultural revitalization, and job generating activities on sub-national levels. This fund should include a multi-billion-dollar budget over five years for participatory facilitation training and community-identified projects that reach across social sectors. In other words, NIHD should primarily help actualize the development projects designed according to the Municipal Charter. Indeed, the NIHD and the Municipal Charter can only be successful if they work in tandem.
If the Municipal Charter does not result in projects properly defined over the course of community-wide participatory meetings, which is unfortunately often the case, then it can be expected that the NIHD will not have adequate local sustainable projects to fund. NIHD should help fund creating the participatory development plans embodied in the Charter, and finance projects that local people expressed they most need and want to implement.
Other practical NIHD reforms to increase its local development impact should include the following: First, the provincial administrations of NIHD should accept development proposals all year round; as of now, the shifting periods during the year they receive proposals mean that opportunities open and close and most local associations and groups remain unaware. Second, NIHD should be maximally flexible to fund the range of projects communities determine most important to them (whether in health, education, involving construction, etc.); NIHD’s criteria regarding project types they consider supporting also often changes from year-to-year (while rural community priorities have remained consistent). Third, NIHD should double the amount (to $60,000) of the funding ceiling for local projects; and eliminate or reduce the requirement that recipients contribute one-third of the finances requested (in-kind giving on the part of community applicants, such as labor and land, should be accepted by NIHD instead of the financial contribution). Finally, and critically, the NIHD should co-create project proposals among its staff with the prospective local beneficiaries. The majority of rural people are illiterate and cannot draft the required complex documents, making it so that communities who could utilize NIHD most are not accessing it. Credit Agricole in Morocco and USAID in northern Iraq are starting to gain experiences in co-creating project proposals with community representatives and beneficiaries, lessons from which might be helpful if NIHD adopted this approach. Incorporating these measures and aligning NIHD and the Municipal Charter regarding participatory planning and development, could create a sharp rise in the implementation of new local development projects that are consistent with the necessities of sustainability.
The “Roadmap” of Moroccan decentralization--taken from the public statements of the King of Morocco since 2008  --aims to utilize ongoing national level engagement (devolution) along with sub-national partnerships (deconcentration), to help implement community projects (delegation). In other words, the Moroccan pathway aims to rally national resources and partnerships for local development, which in principle is good for the sake of sustainability. However, appropriate and lasting construction must happen in tandem with the implementation of community planning, projects, and partnership-building between the public, private, and civil sectors. The relationships and joint development actions are what decentralized systems are actually made of, and this requires sustained community initiatives on a widespread basis. Therefore, without the Municipal Charter and the NIHD working together, adequate decentralized arrangements of public administrations will not be formed to the same extent otherwise and be enduring.
Overall in Morocco, decentralization is not significantly taking hold, which further adds to the suppression of new local development. The national level still generally decides the parameters, terms, cases, and situations for sub-regional actions. There are too few exceptional national administrators who lead on decentralization measures. Here again, informational workshop sessions on decentralized organization and its bottom-up formation are necessary with national and regional leaders, and of course local ones. Also helpful would be conducting studies that show the overlapping and parallels between localized control over social affairs with Islamic religious concepts. For some leaders, this could heighten decentralization’s appeal by placing it in this cultural-traditional context, where it can be naturally integrated.
As far as destabilizing political outcomes that may be caused by decentralization, as described in international cases, the following seems clear in regards to the Moroccan case, certainly based on my experience: the entire emphasis of the people during community-based discussions centers on livelihoods and meeting immediate human needs. I have observed no basis for concerns that stem beyond these developmental factors.
Understandably, executing decentralization, particularly in regards to its pace, can be a delicate balancing process. The local level is stratified socio-economically, environmentally, and in regards to gender just as it is on the societal level and globally. Advancing decentralization quickly can be fraught with unhelpful consequences, such as entrenching further the locally affluent and political classes. However, genuine implementation of Frameworks one and two could create the initial participatory and sustainability conditions which would enable Morocco to eventually opt for an emerging form of communalization--or decentralized development management to the municipal level. In order for this to unfold, local communities and their associations simply require practice in managing projects (that incorporate multi-sectoral partnerships) through their different phases, and to also directly experience their development benefits.
Moroccan Agriculture and Rural Development
The fourth Framework, which is constituted by Morocco’s agricultural development programs (including the Green Morocco Plan), is not making a sufficient difference for the majority of farming families who cultivate five hectares or less of land and who experience intractable poverty . The social unrest in areas primarily in northern Morocco is a direct reflection of ongoing rural poverty, and a fallout in the application of the country’s agricultural, human development, and participatory Frameworks. Rural impoverishment--despite immense local and national potential--is the ‘Achille’s heel’ toward Morocco’s stable future and, ultimately, national prosperity.
The achievements for family farmers over the past three decades in implementing community development projects that are most needed, are starkly few and far between. The rural conditions in Morocco are deeply frustrating and increasingly impossible to justify. Even with viable projects aplenty donors and financiers complain of a lack of viable business and development proposals. How could that be when, for example, farming communities know exactly the irrigation infrastructure that is needed to uplift all village households? Local people consistently prioritize this, yet without construction decade after decade, even when the local beneficiaries would gladly contribute their labor in-kind. Irrigation infrastructure projects are prohibitively expensive, especially in mountain areas, and hardly any other project will greater improve agricultural production, food security, and income.
Rural development conditions are very problematic: There are the near losses of fruit tree varieties of fig, apple, pear, grape, clementine, carob, date, and others that are endemic to the northern region, and other varieties elsewhere in Morocco. This is while billions of trees and plants are needed since farming families are compelled by market and population forces to transition away from growing traditional staples (barley and corn). These staples, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, are grown on 70 percent of agricultural land, yet account for only 10-15 percent of agricultural revenue . Government tree nurseries have been closing over the years when they should be at maximum production capacities--based on the enormous public demand for trees. One simple policy shift would make a profound difference for tens of thousands of farming families: walnut trees should be allowed to be planted at high elevations on public domain lands, just as carob is allowed on public domain lands in lower lying ones.
Rural community meetings are replete with requests by farming communities for irrigation and water containment infrastructure--still to no avail for the majority of them, after generations. The many challenges are hard to overcome related to establishing standard quality and quantity processing and sales in wider markets of agricultural product. There are cooperatives, and they are vehicles for collective, private, and market-based actions, though only a fortunate few of them are able to reach market-success. Typically, it is those rare cases that benefited from outside development capacity-building assistance until the cooperatives are sustainable. Mountain erosion is rampant, even to the extent of causing relocation of homes and of entire villages. New mountain terraces of endemic (and resilient) fruit bearing trees with efficient water systems would help secure local livelihoods and natural environments for families for decades to come.
One of the intolerable consequences of rural poverty is the horrendous fallout of rural girls (and boys) in participation in education between primary to secondary schools, with insufficient dormitories, affordable transportation, and ministerial decentralization. At the same time, there are a large number of rural parents with the capacity to send their daughters to school, but who choose to keep them at home instead due to traditional gender biases and fears. Rural families commonly must choose between sending their daughters to fetch drinking water many kilometers away or to send them to school.
Agricultural programs understandably emphasize the entire upstream value chain, from nurseries to markets, of raw and processed product. The enormity of value lost by Moroccan family farmers due to tree and seed dependency, and by selling their raw product through traditional local market channels, ensures that the majority part of their potential savings, income, and reinvestment--their basis for growth--will largely enhance livelihoods elsewhere, not their own.
Agricultural finance programs have to make choices as to where they can catalyze the greatest possible developmental difference with their limited resources. In this regard, project priority solutions are widely shared and are in irrigation: water canals, basins, towers, pipes, pumps, infrastructure--all of which can conserve and extend 50 percent or even more of the water contents. Meeting the equally widespread need for clean drinking could be appropriately incorporated into the technical scheme.
I understand the counter-response to this recommendation: there are already government programs to subsidize some of these activities for farmers (pressure drip systems, for example). However, those programs need to be brought to the farmers where they are and the necessary partnerships and local institutional growth assisted. Programs should fund: nurseries grown on public land lent to community associations (to reduce risk and cost to farmers), similar to what the High Commission of Waters and Forests, public schools, universities, and others have done with the High Atlas Foundation; cooperative capacity-building in management and technical areas; organic, food safety, and other certifications; and revolving lines of credit in order for cooperatives to acquire certified product for its processing and sale. The result of these combined actions will be a surge in cultivation and market-ready product, along with improved local organization, reinvestment in human development, and decentralized partnerships that help enable considerate decision-making.
But how do we get there? Again, the first Framework involving the Charter and forming community development plans driven by the intended beneficiaries, women and men, all ages, is also key for sustainable agricultural project identification and implementation. Facilitation of project development is helpful and needed; in this regard, establishing centers of participatory planning to help assist dialogue and meeting space and coordination, can be vital for sustainability. Provincial governors and other leaders understand the important contribution such centers can make and they are open to assigning underutilized public or civil building infrastructure for this participatory development purpose. The 300 or so agricultural extension centers and the 54 training schools in Morocco should be fitted for endemic and organic fruit tree and medicinal plant nurseries that are also technical skills transference sites for the surrounding areas. Their students and staff should be the future trainers who are themselves trained experientially in facilitating participatory planning and projects with local communities.
Moudawana and Women’s Empowerment
The fifth Framework, Moudawana (Morocco’s family code) underwent significant reform in 2004, represents a major opportunity for equality and prosperity for women. Similar to the deficiencies in positive outcomes from the other Frameworks relative to opportunity, the ground-level application of Moudawana’s articles--which are of a rights-based approach to sustainable development--are not broadly translating into positive change for the far majority of rural women. In an action-research study conducted by the High Atlas Foundation, 94 percent of 194 participating rural women in the Al Haouz province of Marrakech region, said that they had never heard of Moudawana, the very laws that establish their rights. The purpose of the study was to assist the High Atlas Foundation in the delivery of workshops that involve: 1) recognizing and exercising rights, 2) growing capacities for participatory cooperative development, and 3) building the knowledge and facilitative skills of citizens in empowerment processes.
The lead researcher, Gal Kramarski from Jerusalem, stated in her upcoming essay that: “All groups mentioned illiteracy as a core obstacle that holds them back from knowing their rights.” The distances between communities and their closest middle and high schools create practical (infrastructural) and cultural barriers for participation in education by rural girls. Without cell phone coverage and independence, one person expressed the sentiment: “No one cares about us, we are neglected here; how could we know our rights?” Kramarski observed that “many women indicated that they are dependent on their relatives; their lack of financial and social freedom prevents their access to rights.”
The following are observations from the aforementioned study and the ongoing empowerment program it launched:
1) Ten urban women from universities in Marrakech were also part of the above study, and all of them had awareness about Moudawana as an issue of political and civil struggle. This awareness presents an opportunity to strengthen the capacities of rural and university women in Morocco by facilitating women’s workshops that are integrated self-discovery/Moudawana/cooperative development programs.
2) A frontier to expand and sharpen women’s empowerment experiences and development is to have the theoretical and methodological perspectives of Western and Islamic feminisms analyzed together for similarities and differences and integrated in the areas possible to create enhanced approaches and outcomes (potentially for both societies).
3) The process of achieving greater financial independence for women through cooperatives simultaneously furthers human development, capacities, and social networks. Just as participatory planning needs to result in measurable improvements in people’s lives to be successful, so too women’s empowerment processes should result in sustainable development.
4) Education alone is not enough to increase women’s employment, as evidenced by the fact that in Morocco, women comprise 47 percent of the population holding a tertiary degree of some kind, and yet the vast majority remain marginalized from the workforce . Rather, education programs must be combined with empowerment workshops to give women the confidence they need overcome patriarchal notion preventing them from entering the workforce.
Youth, Activism, and Development
The sixth Framework--the advancement of youth enterprises and their civil and political participation in decision-making--is replete with opportunities and challenges. There are many avenues in Morocco to engage youth in community-based volunteerism and internship experiences for human development. It essentially comes down to investment (the will of leadership) and managing implementation. University-based action research and service learning, youth centers, schools--show everyday how they can be the catalysts for people’s projects and social change, while forging students’ best possible futures through formative skills-building. Lack of funding makes it hard to maintain these programs which actually form the basis for youth employment and social development. However, in the long term these programs actually pay for themselves, especially by way of the hope and sense of purpose these experiences give young people, and the development results that youth create in their communities.
Capacity-building programs for groups of youth should couple two streams of mutually reinforcing actions: first, the application of participatory methods amongst the youth training participants, so that they themselves analyze and strategize to achieve their self-defined needs. Simultaneously they learn the participatory approach. Second, as they learn planning methods from their own use of them, the students apply the techniques with neighboring communities, to affect change beyond their own school, center, or neighborhood. Once participants learn participatory methods by experiencing them themselves, they then go out and apply the same with other communities. In this way, student and community projects are identified and implemented, as skills in participatory planning and project management are built among the youth participants. Learning-by-doing is cost effective, but takes management and integrated programs involving participant reflection, writing (or journaling), collaborative learning, and critical thinking. Currently, the U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation partnership in Morocco wants project proposals that do just this: applied learning with middle and high schoolers that involves investment in necessary infrastructure to meet essential personal and educational needs and prepare students for future vocations in sustainable economic sectors.
To get a sense of project costs, $200,000 would go a long way toward creating at one average-size rural middle or high school (300-400 students) the transformative infrastructure, curriculum, and activities for their education and communities. The initiative funded at this level would include: endemic fruit and forestry tree and wild medicinal plant nurseries (for schools and farming families in the province)--its integration into environmental, economic, and cultural lessons will help form informative lifelong outlooks and abilities; information technology that supports natural resource management and spatial and social mapping and analysis by students; building critically needed infrastructure such as classrooms, libraries, water systems, and bathrooms; and educational resources and materials to support curriculum. This cost does not include dormitories, especially for girls, which are vital for their participation beyond secondary school (as is the case in much of Africa as well).
What are the reasons behind governments’ decisions to build thousands of rural schools without bathrooms and water? Why is it that professors at public university Faculties in Morocco are not compelled to keep a fixed course schedule with their fixed attendance? What keeps a constructed and completed house for a rural teacher still unopened for more than a year, waiting for an authorization that the municipality and province cannot (or will not) readily grant? Will the young women at the empowerment workshops with such reasonable dreams, when they finally dared to dream together, see them realized? Will it always feel like a miracle when money is successfully raised to address so little along these matters of justice? There seems like a steady barrage of ways where Moroccan youth is denied in manners that add insult to injury. This mismanagement is blaring and unsustainable, and certainly reversible because the solutions are known and tested, and the youth overwhelmingly want to participate.
Conclusion – Morocco: Setting the Table for Sustainable Prosperity
The Moroccan Frameworks for development bear essentially what is needed in order for sustainable development for marginalized areas and groups to be catalyzed and brought to full implementation with enduring results. They underscore participatory approaches for defining most important initiatives. They encourage decentralization in order to enable local communities and civil and public agencies to make decisions and allocate resources for people’s projects. The Frameworks target women and youth in recognition of their disadvantaged situations and their role as key drivers of sustainable change.
Within each Framework’s own domain and taken together, they are comprehensive and provide the needed pathways for the people of Morocco to consider the future they want, while providing a course and means to help achieve their human development goals. The Municipal Charter could provide the plans for project development and sustainability that the National Initiative for Human Development may then get behind and help accomplish. Decentralized arrangements are subsequently built in that wake of community project implementation that involves multi-sectoral partnership.
Moroccan agriculture, with its enormous income-generating and environmental-enhancing potential, can and should be the engine for self-reliant financing of the people’s projects. Agriculture projects may also become identified and determined through the process of implementing the mandates of the Municipal Charter. The Moudawana and its embodiment of a right-based to approach and recognition of the centrality of sustainable development as a product of human rights, not only secures and protects the just and rightful status of women and girls, but also enables a vital pathway toward independence in regards to economic decision-making and empowerment. For youth, there are national platforms to promote experiential learning, the creation of capacity-building community projects, and the building of employable skills.
It is therefore not the insufficiency of the principles and guidelines of these Frameworks that accounts for the hardships that afflict Moroccan people, especially in rural areas. It is their inadequate implementation stemming from a considerable lack of their popular understanding and the skills that are needed in order to translate them into reality. Central to achieving the Moroccan development model is the transfer of knowledge related to how to organize community meetings where people come to agreement on the projects they seriously need.
How do we assist people’s participation? How do we organize women’s empowerment within the context of the Moudawana Framework? The answers to these questions are within the Frameworks themselves. However, we learn and apply the answers by gathering, assessing, implementing, and doing. I have found that all that is needed is to give men and women of all ages the chance to come together through community workshops that if followed through can ultimately deliver the projects that they and their families have hoped for far too long.
 Koundouno, Tamba Francois. “King Mohammed VI Call for New Development Model, Accountable Civil Service,” Morocco World News, February 27, 2018.
 Ben-Meir, Yossef. “Can the Moroccan Approach Inspire a Development Revolution?” Mediterranean Quarterly 29:2, June 2018.
 Perry, Megan. “Moroccan agriculture: facing the challenges of a divided system,” Sustainable Food Trust, 2015.
 Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, Water and Forests, “Green Morocco,” 2008.
 King Mohammed VI. “Full Text of the King’s Speech on the Occasion of the 33rd Anniversary of the Green March,” Agence Maghreb Arabe Presse, November 6, 2008.
 World Bank World Development Indicators Database, “Ratio of female to male tertiary enrollment,” 2010.