The Community-Driven Development (CDD) Global Solutions Group (GSG) series “CDD Voices” highlights how CDD approaches are used throughout the world to benefit poor communities.
This month, we’re speaking with Mohamed Medouar, Senior Rural Development Specialist and TTL of Morocco’s National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), now in its second phase. This phase of INDH started in 2011 and aims to invest up to US$2.1 billion over five years to improve supply and access to basic services, infrastructure and economic opportunity for poor and vulnerable groups, as well as strengthen local participatory governance. INDH 2, which continues from an initial phase that started in 2006, was the Bank’s first Program-for-Results (PforR) operation and is slated to conclude later this year.
With a background in agronomy, Mohamed started his career with the Bank in 2004 in the Morocco country office and has since worked on rural development, CDD, agriculture, and water projects in Morocco, Tunisia and Djibouti. He has graciously volunteered to speak with us about his CDD experiences.
How has CDD shaped your career at the Bank?
Before I joined the Bank, I spent 24 years in rural development, including on agricultural extension and farmer organizations. I had the opportunity to work with different stakeholders and go on several field trips, activities that started me on the participatory approach to development and CDD.
Joining the Bank in 2004 and then working on the first phase of INDH in 2006 were opportunities for me to apply these skills and experience to Bank projects. My involvement with INDH only grew, starting as co-TTL in 2006 and the TTL in 2008, where I now work with my counterparts to improve the project’s implementation.
What are the unique factors that make Morocco the right place for a CDD approach?
First, Morocco is unique in the level of political support for the national program. Morocco’s monarch, who came into power in 1999, is known as “the king of the poor” and is very open to new development approaches. He’s supportive of social development programs and how participatory approaches can help poor communities. This has definitely aided CDD’s adoption in Morocco.
A second factor is the willingness and ability of the government to work with and support the CDD approach. The implementing agency, the Ministry of the Interior, was able to mobilize stakeholders from the provincial and regional levels and in a short time, set up the necessary institutional frameworks for CDD, including for local, provincial, and regional committees. These committees are made up in equal parts of local government officials, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and technical services.
Third, Morocco’s open society and large number of NGOs enabled them to play a bigger role in supporting INDH through community engagement and by serving on the various committees.
What are the top 3 challenges facing INDH and how did you manage them?
The first challenge we faced was changing the mindset of stakeholders, such as NGOs and local government, about the CDD approach and building their sense of ownership of INDH. We had to moderate our expectations about what we could accomplish within a given time frame. For example, Brazil took about 10 to 15 years for a true participatory approach to take hold. We also instituted a “learning by doing” approach that helped change their mindset as the project continued. Only by developing an understanding of Morocco’s culture and their initial attitude towards participatory approaches, and by working to change it step by step were we able to succeed in building this sense of ownership from the ground up.
The second challenge was building stakeholder capacity. When INDH first started, stakeholders were not very familiar with CDD and we initially suggested to the borrower that we dedicate the first year for capacity building. While this suggestion did not work out because there was a push for project achievements early on, we did develop a capacity building component to the project. After almost 10 years of project implementation, we now have experts at all levels who can support INDH’s participatory approach.
The third challenge was managing the project’s complexity, arising from INDH’s multi-sectoral nature—covering rural, social, service delivery, and capacity building—and its sheer scope. Our team found it challenging to apply classical development planning, and so we used SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis for our first phase. We also found it difficult to ensure compliance with Bank procedures as the number of subprojects increased. For instance, INDH now has more than 46,000 subprojects.
The solution came with the Bank’s PforR financing instrument. INDH was the very first Bank operation to use PforR, allowing us to use the borrower’s systems. This helped us build their fiduciary and safeguard capacity through an action plan, improving the project’s sustainability. This instrument also has funding allocated to each result, thus allowing more disbursement flexibility; under other instruments, such as Sector Wide Approaches (SWAps), the project must meet all indicators before we can disburse funds. Finally, PforR’s focus on results also helped us get buy-in from the government to increase results monitoring. All of these unique features of PforR helped us manage a very complex project.
What’s your favorite story from INDH?
In 2006, we wanted to introduce a grievance redress mechanism (GRM) as part of INDH’s first phase. However, there was a widespread reluctance by implementing agencies to embrace the GRM because they worried that it would collect complaints not related to the project. In short, they felt it would not contribute much to project implementation and may even open them up to criticism.
As INDH continued, we slowly tried to change their perception of a GRM from a control or criticism tool to a social accountability tool that improves project implementation. We worked hard to persuade them that they could reduce unrelated complaints by improving communication surrounding the program and informing stakeholders more about its purpose.
I’m proud to say that after many years of working with the client, we were able to implement a GRM at the national and provincial levels. This shows we need to have patience and understanding, convincing a client step-by-step to embrace and strengthen the participatory approach—especially if they are initially not familiar with it.
Based on your INDH experience, what advice would you offer to those new to CDD programs such as new TTLs or team members?
First, account for context. While guidelines on organizations for developing a CDD framework are important, they must adapt to each context. In Morocco, we tried to understand why a GRM was not popular among our stakeholders at the initial stage of the program before adopting a step-by-step approach to changing their minds. A blanket insistence on a GRM from the start may not have worked as well.
Second, prioritize capacity building. The program is more successful when stakeholders know their role and are able to truly participate in the CDD approach. Early in our program, some of the local government and NGOs found it difficult to perform as efficient partners when they lacked the necessary experience. For INDH, we asked the borrower to develop territorial and provincial capacity building programs that trained the stakeholders on cross-cutting skills and issues such as participatory approaches, fiduciary aspects, and social issues. We also requested that they provide technical support to the stakeholders, especially on income-generating activities, which helped the overall sustainability of the project. This push on capacity building has paid off for INDH.
Last, a robust monitoring and evaluation system is important. With that, you can capture your project’s results and impact on beneficiaries, and positive results promote support by decision-makers for these types of approaches.