Following the first municipal elections under the 2011 Constitution of Morocco in September 2015, the members of the municipal governments are working to foster more inclusive and effective citizen engagement in local public affairs. Counterpart’s Civil Society Strengthening Program (CSSP) is partnering with select government municipalities to design and implement strategies to improve collaboration between civil society organizations (CSOs) and members of local government. Earlier this year, CSSP signed memorandums of understanding (MoU) with two municipalities: Tetouan, one of the largest cities of northern Morocco, and Temara located in the suburbs of Morocco’s capital, Rabat.
The MoUs are a huge step towards CSSP’s overall goal of helping both government and civil society work together to ensure a more inclusive government that represents all Morocco’s citizens.
In Tetouan, CSSP will support the Municipal Council in implementing a 3-year action plan to strengthen local CSOs and improve their participation in public affairs.
Mrs. Dana Mansuri, USAID Mission Director in Morocco, shared her happiness to witness the beginning of a partnership that will “strengthen the capacity of the municipality in the field of participatory democracy and communication with citizens” and ultimately serve civil society and Tetouan’s citizens.
President of Tetouan’s Municipality, Mr. Mohamed Idaomar, also welcomed the partnership agreement, adding that there is a real need for the involvement of an effective civil society in order to represent the concerns and the expectations of citizens and to identify priorities of the municipal action plan.
The partnership agreement between CSSP and the municipality of Temara focuses on creating a consultative body to represent civil society, promote gender equality and equal opportunities for all citizens, and hold communication meetings with citizens. Mrs. Itimad Zahidi, municipal councilor and member of parliament, gave the overview of the MoU, adding that USAID will provide technical and logistical assistance to the municipality in organizing training sessions for the staff on the ways to improve communication with citizens and civil society.
US Ambassador to Morocco, Mr. Dwight L. Bush, expressed his strong support to this partnership agreement, which is meant “to support the constitutional reform allowing for more participation of civil society in public affairs particularly in local municipalities which are closest to citizens,” adding that “it is necessary to give them the opportunity to express their voices and needs.” He called on the rest of the municipalities in Morocco, and even on other countries in the region, to follow the example of the municipality of Temara as a model.
This is not Temara’s first collaboration with the United States, the President of the Municipal Council, Mr. Moh Rejdali, pointed out in his remarks. Temara has worked successfully with the US Embassy in Morocco on prior projects including a local governance program, training sessions for staff and elected officials, and improving service delivery.
Each signing ceremony was attended by important local civil society representatives.
Civil Society Strengthening Program (CSSP) is a four-year program (2015-2018) funded by USAID and implemented by Counterpart International in partnership with the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law.