Hundreds Gather in Moroccan City to Advance Cooperation Between Youth and Elected Officials

Mar 8, 2013

Rabat, Morocco (March 8, 2013) — A recent open house to support youth and advance cooperation in Kenitra, Morocco brought together more than 400 youth and elected officials along with representatives from schools, universities, and government services for youth.

The event was organized with support from the Near East Foundation (NEF) through USAID’s Local Governance Project, a nation-wide effort in Morocco to build a dialogue between youth and their elected officials, and to provide youth with access to trainings and government services that can increase their civic engagement.

The Kenitra Youth Council, established in late 2012 with project support, was at the heart of the February 25th open house. Youth worked with local government officials to plan the event, mobilize participants to attend, and facilitate information sessions.

The youth council in Kenitra, a port city on the Sebou River in northwest Morocco, fosters youth leaders and facilitates the exchange of ideas with local elected officials. The council was created at the invitation of Kenitra government officials, who learned about the successes of the seven other youth councils newly launched in Morocco in cooperation with the project.

In recent years, a breakdown in dialogue has resulted in a lack of trust between local governments and youth in Morocco. Youth increasingly felt that government was unresponsive to their needs, while local elected officials felt that youth were unable to make valuable contributions.

In Kenitra, and in other areas of Morocco, this trend is changing with the growing participation of youth in their local government made possible by activities led by the new youth councils. The councils are providing a platform to re-build a constructive dialogue between local governments and the youth community.

The open house in Kenitra marked the first time elected officials there met with youth in public. It’s one example of a project activity designed to promote transparency and civic engagement. The open house offered youth an opportunity to meet with their elected officials and government representatives, learn about available local services, and ask questions about issues that most concern them. Participants also received information about the youth council’s role and activities. Kenitra Youth Council representatives led an open discussion on the participation of youth in local affairs, and organized performances by and for youth participants.

Abdesamad Fattar, a student at Prime Royal Military High School, was one of the youth who participated in the open house. After learning about the youth council he said, “this is a great opportunity to communicate because it will open the door for a good conversation between youth and local officials. Youth will be able to get their message across to officials.’’

Over the next year, eight open houses — with a focus on local government services and employment — are planned in areas throughout Morocco. Youth councils also sponsor a variety of other activities, including trainings on communication skills, and workshops that help youth better understand how local government works. In total, more than 5,000 youth in Morocco will benefit from the multi-year initiative.

The Local Governance Project is the result of a partnership between USAID and the General Directorate for Local Collectivities, with implementation by NEF and RTI International. The project supports local governments as well, helping them work more closely with their youth constituencies and integrate youth into the management of local affairs.

Learn more about NEF’s work in Morocco

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The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international NGO leading innovative social and economic development in the Middle East and Africa since 1915. For nearly 100 years, NEF has worked to empower citizens in disadvantaged, vulnerable communities. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to find grassroots solutions to their development challenges. NEF’s “knowledge, voice, and enterprise” approach is helping build more prosperous, inclusive communities throughout the region. To learn more visit www.neareast.org.

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This report is made possible by the generous support of the American people through theUnited States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the Near East Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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