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Participatory Governance in Dakhla’s Bir Gandouz Municipality

byCheikh Akmach
onJanuary 7, 2023

Cheikh Akmach
HAF Site Coordinator, Dakhla-Oued-Ed-Dahab region

Communication meeting with local CSOs in Bir Gandouz Commune. Photo credit: Hajiba Boumasmar/HAF

Our team took the road across the vast desert to get in touch with the people of the Bir Gandouz municipality.
The long road, the immense desert plains, the incomprehensible geological formations shook me to the extreme and gave birth to many thoughts and feelings that are hard to explain.

We reached our destination. It was obvious at first sight that we are in a municipality that has a great growth potential, being an important stop-point on the future African Silk Road. Yet, there are immense challenges.

We had the pleasure of inviting the active CSOs of the commune to a communication meeting regarding participatory governance and the problems they face in Bir Gandouz.

Hana Ezaoui ran the meeting. She started with giving a definition of HAF and its achievements in previous projects in the whole Moroccan Kingdom, and then she talked about the Jraifia project as a model project that provided water for nomadic tribes in that particular commune.

Hana starts the communication meeting. Photo credit: Cheikh Akmach/HAF

Hajiba Boumasmar was next to take the stage. She explained our current participatory governance program, talking in great detail about the step-by-step approach we will take to make it a success.

Our initiative was met with great approval from the participants, who shared with us their expectations and dreams.

One statement from a participant named Khadija shook me to the core. She literally said: “You do not know to what extent we need such workshops here at Bir Gandouz.”

I am sure that all my teammates’ heartstrings trembled simultaneously at that statement. It showed us how important and how beneficial our work is and how it is changing lives.

This statement was just the opening of a flood of similar remarks that reinforced my commitment to the project and to HAF’s development objectives.

Next, we organized the participants into three groups, each being tasked with answering a unique question. The questions were the following:

-What is the role of civil society in promoting the growth of their commune/region?

-What are the topics that should be covered in the training we will provide as a part of our program?

-What are the projects you think as a CSO of the commune will be most beneficial to your community?

Participants engaged in a discussion to answer the question. Photo credit: Cheikh Akmach/HAF

The group discussions went smoothly. The answers provided were on point and gave us a clearer perspective on the needs of the community.

Each group chose a representative who explained to the audience their findings, which were discussed by everyone. The elements were organized (democratically, by vote) by the order of their importance and priority.

A group representative explaining the elements of their answer. Photo credit: Cheikh Akmach/HAF

The meeting ended with the promise of another encounter, which will mark the start of the professional training to be provided to the CSOs at the commune completely free of charge. This will help the participants develop a variety of skills in the hope of envisioning a project that will emerge from the community in the spirit of participatory governance. This program is one that is from the community, realized by the community and for the community.

This priceless paper holds the manifestation of dreams of the community’s inhabitants for a better future. Photo credit: Cheikh Akmach/HAF