Strengthening local development and democracy, Maghreb

Project description

Title: Strengthening of local development and democracy, Maghreb
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia
Overall term: 2016 to 2018

Context

Urban municipalities across Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria face common challenges as they struggle to cope with rapid urbanisation. Everyday life in large towns and cities is shaped by poverty, housing shortages, the informal development of land, environmental risks and social problems. With annual growth rates of three per cent or more, these towns and cities will see their populations double in about 30 years. Almost half of the population is currently under the age of 24.

During the course of ongoing reform processes, the burden of expectation on municipalities is especially high: the population is looking to them to fulfil their hopes and needs by providing transparency, accountability and responsiveness in municipal activities, better services and more opportunities for participation, especially for women and young people.

Effective municipal authorities and municipal service providers are needed to promote social and economic development in these countries. However, municipalities still lack the necessary expertise and resources to deal with the ever wider variety of tasks and the increasing urgency for action and to meet expectations in general.

Objective

Municipalities in the Maghreb are strengthened in their role of contributing to sustainable development. They are able to perform their tasks more effectively and efficiently.

Approach

Municipalities in the region face similar trends and are therefore also confronted with comparable challenges. By taking a structured, regional approach to dialogue and the transfer of knowledge, municipalities have the opportunity to learn from each other and shape local development processes. The programme, which aims to strengthen local development and democracy in the Maghreb, facilitates mutual learning by promoting links between towns and cities. Measures are currently focused on urban municipalities in Tunisia and Morocco. Algerian municipalities are also invited to participate.

Through structured dialogue and the exchange of knowledge and experience, participating urban municipalities receive access to tried-and-tested models and strategies as well as methods and instruments in the field of municipal and urban development.

The programme also supports selected partner municipalities in implementing innovative measures designed specifically to foster national and regional dialogue. At the regional level, the programme promotes networking and dialogue, especially on issues associated with the establishment of structures such as municipal self-administration and decentralisation, the role and mandates of municipal associations, inter-municipal cooperation and local democracy.

As well as promoting links and supporting individual municipalities, the programme supports municipal associations in Tunisia and Morocco. These measures are flanked by German-Tunisian and German-Moroccan urban and municipal project partnerships.

The programme works with other German development cooperation projects, German and European municipal associations, various German towns and cities, the Marseille Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) and institutions within the partner countries.

Results

In Tunisia and Morocco, previous projects have laid important foundations for establishing links between towns and cities as a way of transferring knowledge between municipalities and enabling dialogue between towns and cities and central government.

In Morocco, more than 30 towns and cities are working together in five specialist working groups on waste management, energy efficiency, the restoration of old town centres, urban mobility and cooperation with civil society. These issues were identified by the towns and cities themselves and, in some cases, are being discussed in several concurrent forums. The relevant ministries are also involved in this process, thus intensifying and providing a structured platform for dialogue between municipalities and government. More recently, the programme has begun promoting young people’s participation in urban development and supporting the pro-reform Association of Mayors, which was established in May 2013.

In Tunisia, the programme supports the development of local democratic structures through the establishment of local municipal offices and participatory processes for municipal planning and decision-making. Here, too, young people are encouraged to take part in political processes.

Towns and cities are able to learn from each other by participating in specialist working groups focusing on waste management, transport policy, energy efficiency and local municipal offices. In addition, municipalities have been made more aware of issues such as youth employment and political participation in development processes.

The programme strengthens the position of the Tunisian Association of Cities as a representative of municipal interests, a service provider for member municipalities and an inter-municipal learning network.

The Tunisian national training centre, CFAD, has published a guide to municipal democracy which has been integrated into its curriculum.