Espace associatif in Morocco

Tuesday 30 March 2004, by ALTERNATIVES


Since the middle of the 1990’s, Morocco has seen an opening of democracy, which allowed in 1998 the election of a transition government, the return of exiled political activists and the release of several political prisoners who had survived the gaols of the deceased king Hassan II.

This democratic opening also allowed for the creation of human rights organizations, a new fight against poverty and for greater participatory democracy. It is in this context that Espace associatif (Space for Association), a respected partner of Alternatives in Morocco, was created with our support. Unfortunatly the extent of the socio-economic problems that the kingdom confronts have taken alot of the joy out of these developments.

According to the ministry for Development and Planning, Morocco currently has a negative population growth. This is due to increased ageing primarily becuase of deplorable living conditions (characterized by a shortage of housing), a high rate of unemployment, illiteracy and celibacy leading to a drop in the birth rate. Also, increasingly, 26 % of families live in one room housing and 40 % live in two room houses, regardless of the size of their family.

In terms of a social plan, the demographic and socio-economic indicators of certain prefectures, (such as El Fida-Derb Sultan, Sidi Ottman, Sidi Maarouf, Hay Mohamadi etc) reveal among some of the highest indices of poverty in Casablanca, if not in all of Morocco.

Project :

Alternatives has supported Espace associatif in Morocco since its creation in 1996. Espace associatif is a grouping of associations fighting for human rights, women’s rights, democracy, protection of the Berber (Tamazight) culture along with other issues. It has developed an associative strategy aimed at establishing of a democratic society, the erection of the l’État de Droit, the promotion of the values of citizenship and the installation of the mechanisms of sustainable development. Among many concerns, Espace associatif wants to be a catalyst for a strong core of associations, able to unite local groups, with a focus to ensuring the presence of the countervailing power of civil society. Their objectives are the reinforcement of networking between groups and district associations, the reinforcement of local democracy, the integration of women into social participation and local democracy, the fight against poverty, the development of large parks in Casablanca (the park of the Hermitage, amoung others).

This work has resulted in the creation of environmental and health based development tools and the installation of a training scheme for district associations so that they can better face the challenges of development and democracy.

Moreover Espace associatif regularly organizes round tables, conferences and seminars both in order to reflect on the relations between social movements and the government and to highlight the role of local development associations with regard to: elections, observing the work of communities, citizenship education, participation in the management of public goods, education about human rights, and creating greater solidarity to protect the public good.


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