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Bridging Communities: Fostering Collaboration between CSOs and Local Authorities in Dakhla for Sustainable Development

byKarma Salloum
onMay 6, 2024

The Participatory Governance program in Dakhla is a collaborative effort between the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) and the US-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) that supports communities in Morocco’s Dakhla-Oued Ed-Dahab region to design and implement their own priority projects through capacity building and participatory planning workshops. The program specifically encourages community collaboration and collective planning, engaging civil society organizations (CSOs) and members of local government officials, to address the social, economic, and environmental issues in their communities.

As part of the program, five women’s cooperatives in the Bir Gandus commune participated in a series of participatory planning workshops to discuss their personal and professional goals. After thinking deeply about their futures, they realized that by joining forces they could work together to achieve their common goal of supporting women in their community to achieve financial independence. Uniting would also help the women expand their business more rapidly as, together, they would have access to more clients and opportunities. The Tidarguit Tasamoh Alliance was born. Complementing their alliance, the women also designed a community initiative, which is funded by the program, that works to empower rural women in all aspects.


Capacity building workshop with the Tidarguit Tasamoh Alliance. Photo by HAF.

After forming their alliance, the women decided to focus on producing couscous and Moroccan sweets to sell them to members of their commune and outside markets as well. In order to increase their productivity, they also decided to rent a small office where they could meet and work together. However, shortly after finding an office, they encountered a problem. Due to high rent prices and the fact that the women had only just begun and did not yet have financial stability, the monthly office rent was too expensive. Therefore, they needed to look for a solution.

An important component of the program is that it fosters effective communication between CSOs in Dakhla and local government officials to encourage CSOs to share their vision, work, and challenges with officials who can contribute to helping them achieve their goals. It also aims to empower cooperatives and community organizations to learn about their rights as CSOs, partner with other organizations and officials, and build their capacity to submit business-related proposals to local government associations.

Thus, through the program, the Tidarguit Tasamoh Alliance was able to meet with Mr. El Caid, the representative of the local authority in the commune, and other officials. In these meetings, the women were able to share the challenges they face, including their concerns about the expensive rent. They were encouraged by the officials to write a proposal to local decision makers explaining their situation and asking to be provided with a working space free of charge.

In the end, the Tidarguit Tasamoh Alliance successfully wrote and sent a solicitation letter to local decision-makers requesting a free office space, marking a major achievement for the women. Feeling empowered with the new knowledge they acquired from the program, the Alliance members are planning to grow their business and provide opportunities for more women to achieve financial independence. Specifically, their goals are to work to sell their products outside of the region and continue to involve the local government officials in their work in hopes of securing their support. Most importantly, the women believe that their work is helping alleviate poverty in their community and is helping the Dakhla-Oued Ed-Dahab region advance in achieving sustainable development.


Members of the Tidarguit Tasamoh Alliance and local government officials at a meeting to enhance the partnership between CSOs and local authorities in Bir Gandus. Photo by HAF.