Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco

 
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The High Atlas Foundation believes that experiential training is key in effective capacity-building. At the Center for Community Consensus and Sustainable Development, the HAF team builds knowledge of sustainable development through applied activities. As an integral part of the Hassan II University, the Center provides ongoing workshops to transfer skills in effective development management, project implementation and technical maintenance, and fundraising. 

HAF volunteer Zaynab spent time with students, CSOs and officials trained at Hassan II University and learned about the method of participatory development that HAF and its generous supporter promote: development through empowerment: Ownership and control of the development process rests in the hands of beneficiaries who are capable and willing.

Zaynab reflected on her time spent with the HAF team and project participants:

"A month ago, participatory development was the title of a chapter in my development textbook, the name of a series of lectures I had attended at university, or the topic of an essay I had written; just theory. Nonetheless, it was a theory that I had been told worked. It is said that ‘seeing is believing’ and after a month of interning with the Center for Community Consensus-Building and Sustainable Development, I am convinced not only of the fact that participatory development works, but that it promotes true sustainable development: the ultimate goal of any development initiative."

Thanks to the generous support from our volunteers and donors, HAF is able to increase the scope and impact of our community-initiated projects. On behalf of the HAF team and the many students, CSOs and officials who benefit from this training program, thank you for your contribution. 

Celebrating Success Together
Celebrating Success Together

On Thursday July 4th, 2013, the High Atlas Foundation held a conference with university students, members of civil society organizations (CSOs), representatives of government, and community participants.

The event took place at the local Cultural Center and was an opportunity for the newly created Coalition of over 30 CSOs in the city of Mohammedia that benefited from HAF program (funded by the Middle East Partnership Initiative) in participatory democratic planning and project management – to present their strategic plans and advocate for their social and economic opportunities.  The President of the Coalition, Mr. Ben Kacem El Yamani, presented their mission, goals and objectives and a detailed action plan for the upcoming six months.

During the conference, HAF’s President Yossef Ben-Meir signed partnership conventions with two local NGOs; the newly created Coalition of Associations in Mohammedia, and the Association Salma for Development and Integration, a leading association in the Commune of Sidi Moussa Ben Ali, represented by its President, Mr. Sdafi Abdelillah. These two new partnerships came to ensure and support a long-term and structured collaboration between HAF and CSOs in Mohammedia, where HAF offers the capacity-building and guidance necessary for CSOs to become ‘schools of democracy’, a place where the citizens learn democratic ideals and procedures, advance of diversity and pluralism, promote mutual acceptance and willingness to compromise, trust and cooperation, and where CSOs and citizens can influence government officials to adopt positions supporting their members and follow formal rules that facilitate open, free and fair social debate and decisions.

The conference was a great opportunity for participating CSOs to contribute and effectively play their role as a key player in developing, implementing and evaluating government programs and policies, particularly those related to key services and decisions that affect people lives, as Morocco’s constitution clearly defines the role of CSOs as crucial in evaluating government policies and proposing reforms (Article 12).

The event also presented an opportunity for representatives of government agencies and elected officials to share their feedback and suggestions on the programs and activities presented. They commended the CSO initiatives and invited them to coordinate efforts and resources in order to address key social and economic issues of their city.

The culminating part of the conference was when Professor Khalid Mayar El Idrissi facilitated a discussion on CSOs’ contributions towards achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Morocco. After presenting the goals and the country’s present status towards achieving them as highlighted in different reports, many questions were discussed: Is the CSO community rising to the challenge? Are the partnerships among NGOs and with the government and the private sector productive and optimal?

At the end of the session, Dr. El Idrissi summarized several recommendations for the CSOs, including working towards improving:

  • Local capacity, in terms of knowledge and skills to implement the MDGs
  • Local information and public awareness about the MDGs
  • Capacity to undertake integrated and participatory planning (horizontal coordination)
  • Skills in introducing performance budgeting for effective implementation
  • Capacity for creating a framework of MDG indicators and monitoring mechanisms
  • Local procurement capacity which acts as an impediment for high quality and the efficient delivery of public services
  • Lack of a national enabling environment for effective local development (e.g. legal and regulatory framework supporting decentralization, financial resources, organizational systems and mechanisms, values, norms and social practices that influence people’s decision and behavior)
  • Support from international agencies and donors to promote local governance and local poverty reduction activities

A very special highlight and reason for celebration of the conference was the presentation of Certificates of Completion to students and representatives of CSOs, and recognizing them for their civic engagement, volunteerism and active participation and contributions to the HAF-MEPI capacity building program. Congratulations, and thanks for your support for enabling, sustaining, and expanding this program! I hope we continue to do so together. 

The Whole Group
The Whole Group
Listening in
Listening in

The High Atlas Foundation recognizes that good governance with the partnering civil society organizations (CSOs) is critical for enhancing democratic governance, improving service delivery, and fostering empowerment.

CSOs that apply good governance systems for organizational management and development are able to not only provide quality services to their constituents but also hold the local government and state accountable and make it responsive to their needs and create partnerships to address key social, political and economic issues.

This week, the HAF project team focused the capacity building program for CSOs and University students on a very powerful message “Good Governance within CSOs”.

During a meeting with the director of Dar Chebab (Youth Center) in Ain Harrouda to discuss a partnership agreement between HAF and the Dar Chebab in order to benefit Youth in Ain Harrouda from the capacity building program, the project team advanced the principals of good governance as a way to enhance the role of Youth. During this meeting, the Director of Dar Chebab was very pleased and welcomed HAF’s initiative to bring such valuable and necessary capacity building program to benefit CSOs and Youth in Ain Harrouda. He assured the project team of his full support and welcomed us to use the Dar Chebab premises as a platform to interact and partner with CSOs and Youth in Ain Harrouda.

Following an invitation by members of Association Salam for Integration and Development in the commune of Sidi Moussa Ben Ali, the project team visited the site and met with the association to discuss ways HAF could support their efforts to recruit and mobilize constituents for community action plans. The project team, once again, advanced the principles of good governance within the association structures, including the use of the participatory approach and democratic planning for project development and management.

 

Meeting with Association Salma for Integration and Development, Commune of Sidi Moussa Ben Ali:

At the end of the meeting, both parties agreed on an ambitious capacity building program for the association members and extensionists.

During a follow up meeting with representatives of associations in Beni Yekhlif commune at the local Dar Chebab, where representatives of associations reported on their efforts to create a “Federation of Associations” as way to consolidate resources and create synergy and effective partnerships, the project team advanced ways effective board of directors could contribute to providing good governance and leadership by working effectively both as individuals and as a team. The meeting was an opportunity to meet with representatives of new associations and to invite them to join our capacity building program.

 

Meeting with representatives of Associations in Beni Yekhlif Commune:

At the end of the meeting, it was decided to invite other Associations (both newly created associations and old associations) to join the “Federation of Associations” project and to allow them time to review the drafted bylaws and regulations. It’s important to note that the constitutive general assembly will be organized as soon as these new Associations share their feedback and suggestions to the working committee and a final and agreed upon bylaws is drafted.

Training session at the University on effective organizational development and management:

The last activity implemented by the team this week was the first part of a training workshop at the University on effective organizational management and development as way for good governance within CSOs structures. The training session, which focused on effective administrative management was very well received by 23 participants, who expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to learn these principles and techniques and to apply them within their associations.

Thanks for your interest, and supporting us to expand capacity in civil society to make good governance part of the democratic process. 

Links:

Some of the Students, Full of Energy
Some of the Students, Full of Energy

Students, together with CSOs has agreed on the priority project of building a community center in Mohammedia. To do so, they have two options. The first is to gain access to a center that was built and completed in 1995 and then immediately closed and never used, or to request for the governor of the province to identify land to build a new community center. The associations and students have opted for the first opion, to gain access to that empty sitting structure, and toward that end, letters are currently being drafted to the governor, the Wali, the Minister of Youth, Sports, and also the communal council's president and assembly members. Student and CSO leaders will meet with the communal council at the commune office in the next couple weeks. After yesterday's meeting, the students contacted the delegue of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, who voiced his full support of the development of this strategy.

This is no small project, and likely, it will be the first of many. A community center would change the meaning of community for the better in Mohammedia. It would be a place of saftey for sub-Saharan African community members who often feel they are targets for violence, it would be a place for youth to come together and play sports and study, it would be a place for associations to meet and to develop further strategies. This is the goal, and our task now is how to get there. 

Particapatory methods exist precisely to define architectural and structural projects for a community. These are the techniques that will be used by HAF team leaders to design the building. 

What we need now is support to make this project real. We hope this will come from the governor, and from those people in Morocco and around the world who have benefited from a community center and want others to share these benefits. Please donate to support this project, which will change the course of community for youth and adults alike in Mohammedia for years to come. 

The conversation never stops - so we look forward to updating you on our progress soon. 

Thanks as always for your support, and check out our photos to see this process in action! 

The HAF & Mohammedia Team

Links:

West African Student Leader works with peers
West African Student Leader works with peers

Wednesday was an amazing day.  A day full of possibilities and adventure for the HAF Interns we have been training, as well as for our professional staff.  The training was.  The High Atlas Foundation’s MEPI program in Mohammadia had its first large scale – 65 people – meeting and training (held in the main auditorium of the University of Hassan II with full approval of the Dean) in Community Development with both students and a number of Community Service Organization (CSO).  The latter were represented by the presidents of several your association.

The training, with lunch provided was supposed to start at 11:30. I started getting nervous when 12:30 rolled around and we only had 5 students and large amount of food had arrived!  But as if by magic by 12:45 or so the room was packed!  The students from the various faculties – law Science, and Technology came in groups in quick succession.  It was wonderful to see so many eager faces. Food was distributed and the Vice Dean – Dr. Salim OURYAGHLI -- was sent for as he had expressed a wish to address the student and CSO before the training got on the way. 

Dr Salim OURYAGHLI gave a rousing speech, short, but to the point and powerful.  He encouraged the audience to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity that HAF/MEPI was offering them.  An opportunity that would help them themselves and their communities to reach new heights in community participation and the development of helpful projects the community would choose.  He emphasized that the mastering of the techniques that would be taught to them by HAF would in fact be good for all of Morocco.  The audience gave him a strong ovation before he retired to his office to his extremely busy schedule.  HAF was honored that he had taken timeout of that very busy schedule to talk to the congregated students and CSOs.

Next the HAF Interns (HAFI), introduced themselves: their names, the places of origin, by explaining their place in the PD process, and how they hoped to assist those in the audience to begin to learn the same process.  Ms. Malika Kassi, who conducted the training for this session, introduced herself and had me introduce myself, and then explained what she was going to do for the remainder of the session.

Handouts were given to each member of the audience, in either Arabic or French according to their personal preference.  The handouts delineated the PD mission and process, and were clearly stamped as a MEPI.  

The audience was asked to stand and Ms. Kassi led them in an icebreaker: She would call out a world and each individual had to pantomime what the world meant to them.  For example when she called out the word “peace” many participants held up their fingers in a victory sign, some hugged another person, etc.    After the Icebreaker the audience was divided into four groups and the training began in earnest.  Each group was staffed by a HFAI who assisted them through the first exercise, under the direction of Ms. Kassi, and which consisted of defining a communities and subsequently mapping them.  The chosen “community” for the sake of this training was the University Hassan II itself. The students identified what they would like to see improved and created maps that reflected their impressions of the university.

For almost an hour the groups poured over their definitions and maps, then each group choose a representative to explain their conclusions to the other groups.

Because of time constrains, both by having had started so much later than the designated time, and because more than half of the students had to leave for a class, the training was stopped at that point.  Evaluation forms were handed out and those that stayed completed theirs and the students that had to leave for class gave their word that they would return the complete forms to the HAF Training Center.

Before any of the students left for class, a date was set for the next training session, Wednesday, December 26, from 11:30 to 2:00pm with lunch again being provided.  The audience enthusiastically endorsed their willingness to come to the next training on that date.

The HAFI have been asked to provide a full report of the training, pros and cons. Those reports will be combined and posted here also.

Thank you so much for your support for enabling this project. We are headed in the right direction, and with your support we can make a great community impact. 

Links:

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Organization

Project Leader

Alex Stein

NYC, NY (US) and Marrakech, Al Haouz (Maroc), Morocco

Where is this project located?

Map of Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco