Resources on rural development
in Marocco



I. The administrative division of space in Marocco

II. An outline of rural development policies and their implementation

III. Access to resources on rural development in Marocco


I. The administrative division of espace in Marocco


Political institutions in Morocco


Since its independence in 1956, Morocco has promulgated five respective constitutions in 1962, 1970, 1972, 1992 and 1996, all of which have instored a democratic, social and constitutional monarchy regime stipulating in their preambule that the Kingdom of Morocco is a muslim State, whose official language is Arabic.
The latest constitutional reform dated September 13, 1996, introduced a number of innovations including namely :

  • The introduction of a bicameral system through the creation of a second chamber, having deliberating powers similar to those of the House of Representatives;
  • The election of all members of the House of Representatives by direct universal suffrage;
  • The reintroduction of constitutional development plans ;
  • The establishment of the region as a local community;
  • The constitutional establishment of the right to property and freedom of entrepreneurialism;
  • The recognition of human rights such as they are universally recognised.

The executive power

Made up of a Prime Minister and ministers, the government is responsible to the King and Parliament. After the King appoints members of the government, the Prime Minister appears before each of the houses of Parliament and presents the political programme he intends to put into effect. The governmental declaration is then debated before each of the two houses. Only the House of Representatives must approve it by vote.
The Prime Minister may delegate some of his powers to his ministers; his statutory deeds are cosigned by the Minister in charge of applying them. The Government ensures the execution of laws and is the head of the administration. The Prime Minister may initiate laws but bills must be examined by the Council of Ministers presided over by the King before being presented to the two Houses. The Prime Minister assumes the responsibility of coordinating ministerial activities.

Legislative Power

Since the last constitutional revision in 1996, Parliament was composed of two houses whose members’ office depends on the nation. The 325 members of the House of Representatives are elected for five years by direct universal suffrage. The 270 members of the House of Advisors are elected for nine years by indirect universal suffrage. They are appointed according to the proportion of three fifths in each region by an electoral college made up of representatives of local communities and, in a proportion of two fifths in each region by electoral colleges made up of elected members of professional chambers and national elected members by an electoral college composed of employee representatives.
The Parliament sits for two sessions per year (October and April) and the request for an extraordinary session is provided for by the Constitution upon request by the absolute majority of one of the two Houses or the Government. The President of the House of Representatives is elected at the beginning of legislature and then during the April session of the third year following the latter, the House of Advisors’ President is elected at the beginning of the October session and each time members of the House are re-elected.
As in all parliamentary regimes, the initiation of laws belongs concurrently to the Prime Minister and the Members of Parliament. Bills are presented to one of the two Houses. The right to amendment is shared by the Government and Parliament, except that legislative initiatives are constitutionally subject to the principle of reasoned parliamentary government: inadmissibility is pronounced if legal domain is surpassed, in the case of a financial incidence or if the preliminary review by a commission is not respected.

Judicial Power

Judicial organisation designates the entirety of courts in the Kingdom. The term “tribunal” designates the lower jurisdictions such as lower courts with limited jurisdiction. The term “court” refers to higher jurisdictions such as the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.
In accordance with article 82 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Morocco, judicial authority is independent from legislative and executive power. The first article of the law 1-74-388 of 24 Joumada II 1394 (15 July 1974) sets down the judicial organisation of the Kingdom as follows : i) common law jurisdictions, i.e. 837 local jurisdictions and districts, 68 tribunals or lower courts (which also include 183 centres of residing judges), 21 Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court; ii) specialised jurisdictions, i.e. 7 administrative courts, 8 commercial courts, and 3 commercial courts of appeal.
Rulings are rendered and carried out in the name of the King. Magistrates are appointed by dahir, based on proposals by the Judicial Review Board. Ordinary court judges are irremovable.

The Administrative Organisation of Space in Morocco

Morocco is made up of 16 administrative regions divided into 17 wilayas subdivided into 70 provinces and prefectures and 1532 urban and rural communities. Map of regions, Map of administrative regions

Local communities

Local communities include regions, prefectures, provinces and towns.
In the provinces, prefectures and regions, governors are represented by the State and ensure the execution of laws. They are responsible for the application of governmental decisions and, to this end, the management of local services by central administrations. They carry out the deliberations of provincial, prefectural and regional assemblies according to the stipulations of the law.
In accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, local communities elect assemblies to democratically manage their affairs.
The provincial assembly’s competence as laid out by the law includes namely: programmes of regional development and their enhancement; projects of industrial decentralisation, creating and defining means for managing prefectural and provincial public services; constituting or participating in planning and development organisations; classifying, maintaining and extending road systems; setting tax brackets and rules regarding tarifs and license fees, duties and taxes collected to benefit prefectures or provinces.
The local Council is generally competent to deal with all matters concerning local interests.

II. An outline of rural development policies and their implementation


Major orientations of Agricultural and Rural Development policy and their means of implementation
Rural areas have benefitted from a constant financial and political effort to mobilise resources, especially water resources. They have also been the focus of an explicit intention towards technical as well as institutional modernisation concerning agriculture (i.e. not all aspects of rural life). The proof of this can be found in the pockets of modern development which are at a par with the great agricultural centres of the world.
Morocco has a group of strategies, plans, programmes and projects which affect agricultural development, from the management of natural resources to the more recent fight against desertification and local development. In most cases, these projects have come about in the last twenty years. The process of their implementation has often given rise to diagnosis and deep reflection about the current state of affairs and the definition of a new approach to development.
Some of these strategies, plans, programmes and projects are clearly focused on one sector. Others, less frequent, aim at a horizontal mission of integrated development. A third category includes a new generation of transversal programmes which adhere to the political framework to reabsorb Morocco’s delay in social programmes and give concrete ways for politicians to fight against poverty.
In the following text, we will highlight the main strategies, plans, programmes and projects which have been introduced in the last twenty years.


Agricultural Development



Climate conditions in Morocco make irrigation an unavoidable technical imperative whose economic and social consequences are undeniable. Since 1967, major efforts have been made in the field of hydro-agricultural planning. Nowadays, the irrigated surface area is 1.45 million hectares. The predominant irrigation method is gravitational with nearly 83% of the surface area under perpetual irrigation on a national scale.
Given the hydraulic potential which can be mobilized and the portion which can be reserved for agricultural purposes, the irrigable potential is currently estimated at 1.664 million hectares: 1.364 million hectares in perpetual irrigation – of which 880,000 hectares in Large Hydraulics and 484,000 ha in Small and Medium Hydraulics - and 300,000 ha in seasonal irrigation.
In relation to the size of the population, the irrigable land potential will go from 57.1 hectares per 1,000 inhabitants in 2000 to 42.2 hectares per 1,000 inhabitants in 2020. Irrigation is currently responsible for nearly 85% of the total volume of mobilized water resources. This rate will decrease to around 80% in 2020.


Following the promulgation of the 33/94 Law as the fundamental intervention tool outside of large irrigated perimeters, the Ministry of Agriculture has launched new types of project since 1996 which are simultaneously concentrated, integrated and localized and whose purpose is to catalyse and turn to good account the efforts of the population partially through public investment. Thanks to the support of legal measures defined in 1994, these projects are known under the title of PMVB or Perimeters of Enhanced Rain Zones.
The first generation of these projects has been marked by an interventionist approach on the part of the administration. The weakness of capacities at a local level, along with the reluctance of central services to delocate certain competencies, have largely contributed to certain failures. After the first three years which followed the launching of PMVB projects, the initial rate of implementation has passed from 5 projects a year to a number varying between 10 and 15 per year..
Faced with the accelerating speed and size of field activity which has resulted, it has become urgent and necessary to reevaluate the institutional capacity to manage and implement these projects in order to ensure better decentralization of decision poles, active participation on the part of the population concerned and good adaptation of actions to local specificities and diversity of pluvial zones. All of which has contributed to the implementation of a second generation of PMVBs supported by aid and methodological support of the PNUD in order to carry out what is commonally called “facilitating actions”. This regards additional components of planning actions covering such aspects as animation, local NGO support and actions requested by households (water conveyance, income generating activities, …)


Designed in 1996, the Strategy of pastureland development aims to fight against desertification, protect the environment and control the hazards which penalize the lowest socio-economic groups. This strategy represents a radical calling into question of the pastoral planning approach in all its stages of conception, from the execution to the follow-up evaluation.
The conclusions drawn from the analysis carried out have emphasized that pastureland strategy cannot be a simple technical operation. It must rather be the expression of a political desire translating options in the subject of land statute, conditions of access to basic resources and the type of growth to be offered to shepherds without damaging either their descendents or the national community. In addition to the long term vision commended by this strategy, it also calls into question the principle of gratuitous access to pastureland and drinking water and, based on the acquired experience of certain successful examples in Morroco, proposes necessary dispositions to make this access available at a certain charge and facilitates their implementation.


The Strategy of forest development, designed in 1994, takes into account all the variables of the forest environment (physical and biological context, demography, social groups, legislative and institutional frameworks) and integrates them into a coherent whole, rotating around five axes:

    • lForest management;
    • Long term vision of forest development;
    • Development of peri-forest zones;
    • Development of partnership actions;
    • Reformation of the financial system of the sector.

The National Forestry Programme, adopted in 1999, was developed in response to a concept of sustainable development initiated since the Rio summit. Designed as a strategic tool in the service of sustainable development of natural patrimony, this programme is destined to lead to the revision of national forestry policy and to inverse the process of degradation of forestry ecosystems.

Its objectives are as follows:

    • Water and soil protection;
    • Contribution to socio-economic development of rural populations;
    • The protection of biodiversity and the environment;
    • The production of wood for industry and handicrafts;
    • The production of service.

In order to implement it, three approaches have been taken :

    • A patrimonial approach devoted to shared responsibility of all actors involved in territory planning;
    • A territorial approach whose corollary is the integration of actions in the framework of rural development dynamics (mountain, energy, road management, hydraulic planning policies…) ;
    • A participatory and partnership approach which requires the support of the user population, local communities and the private sector in the process of planning and sustainable development.


Social Development and Infrastructures

The transversal experiences of economic and social development are the social development strategy which have given rise to the Programme of Social Priorities, the Programme of Grouped Supply of Drinking Water to Rural Populations, the Plan of Global Rural Electrification, and the National Programme of Rural Road Construction. These programmes aim at recovering the delay accumulated since independence in the decisive indicators of human development.

Social Development

The Strategy of social development was designed in 1995 by the department in charge of the population. Its purpose is to compensate for the negative effects felt by the most vulnerable sectors of the population following the application of the Structural Adjustment Programme during the eighties. This strategy consists of channelling more public resources into specific social activities which target the underprivileged sections of the population. It provides for measures which make it possible to enlarge the access of underprivileged populations, namely in rural areas which house ¾ of the poor, to basic social services such as health, education, housing and access to drinking water and to increase employment opportunities. As budgetary resources are limited, the application of this strategy assumes that State intervention will be rationalized and that an effort towards arbitration and the reallocation of public resources will be made.
The Programme of Social Priorities (BAJ1) addresses a group of provinces selected on the basis of a range of criteria established by the Statistical Direction and making it possible to classify them in function of their level of poverty and their lack of basic equipment. This programme includes two main components: Education and Health.

The component “Basic Education” targets the following general objectives:

    • Improvement of access to basic education and rates of retention;
    • The reduction of the educational gap between girls and boys;
    • The improvement of the quality of education;
    • The support of literacy programmes;
    • The reinforcement of planning, equipment and management capacities, etc.

For its part, the “Health” component targets three essential objectives:

    • The improvement of access to preventive and essential curative healthcare;
    • The reinforcement of the risk free maternity programme;
    • The support of priority national public health programmes.


The Programme of Group Supply of Drinking Water to Rural Populations (PAGER) was launched in 1995. As an objective, it has set the rate of 80% of rural populations supplied within 10 years. It sets out to supply nearly 31,000 local districts with a population of 11 million inhabitants and requires an estimated global investment of 11 billion DH.
The Global Rural Electrification Plan (PERG), piloted by the National Electricity Office, proposes to bring the rate of rural electrification to around 80% by electrifying 1,500,000 households by the year 2010 (The carrying out of PAGER as well as PERG has been accelerated, their completion has been brought forward to 2007).
The cost of rural electrification is covered by three partners: local communities (20% or 2,085 DH per benefitting household), the beneficiaires (25% or 2,500 DH) and by the National Office of Electricity (55% of which 20% directly and 35% in the equivalent of 2.25% of the receipts from the sale of electricity to network subscribers).
The National Programme for the Construction of Rural Roads (PNRR) was instigated following the diagnosis of rural paths carried out by the Direction of Roads and Road Circulation. Out of 38,000 km inventoried, only 18% were judged to be in good or average condition, while 57% of towns are either inaccessible by vehicles all year or suffer from seasonal isolation. The Direction of Roads therefore identified 13,300 km which require priority intervention, but singled out 11,236 km considered urgent for the PNCRR. This plan includes 5,149 km of resurfacing roadwork and 6,087 km of unsurfaced roads to complete over 7 to 9 years, i.e. an average annual rate of 1,200 km (550 km of roadworks and 650 km of new roads to be created).


The 2020 Strategy for Rural Development

Principles and Objectives

Developed in1999, the 2020 Strategy of rural development (SDR 2020) has a global aim to correct the imbalances which affect rural life and development, as well as the enhancement of natural resources.
This strategy considers that:

    • The existing imblance between rural and urban areas compromises the progress made in several sectors of the economy;
    • Rural development has become an imperative today in order to correct the constraints which this social fracture has produced;
    • Rural development is also a necessity in order to highlight the potential of rural areas, the potential of agricultural production, the potential of natural resources and especially the potential of human resources.

According to the SDR 2020, policies meant to implement conditions which should allow rural populations to begin a process whereby these imbalances are corrected and their potential realized, will have to refer to a few fundamental principles:

    • Human development constitutes the purpose of rural development;
    • Equity and solidarity are considered as the basis for social balance;
    • The search for economic effectiveness is a value shared by everyone;
    • Development is founded on democratic participation and dialogue.

Based on these principles, the strategy highlights one essential point: rural development must not be considered as a development programme at a State level and expressed in new terms. It must be a societal phenomenon and be based on initiatives by actors as well as the numerous coherent projects which they formulate.
The strategy goes on to enumerate a list of objectives towards which adopted policies must emulate:

    • Creating employment and increasing income in agriculture;
    • Creating and diversifying employment in para-agricultural activities and outside of agriculture, in order to meet the needs of employment demands of the active rural population which cannot be absorbed by agricultural production;
    • Stopping the process of anthropic degration of the environment, revegetalisation of natural habitat and controlling water resource renewal;
    • Increasing and improving education and professional training of rural men and women;
    • Improving services linked to quality of life and well-being, in particular relating to health, drinking water, electricity and transport;
    • Correcting regional and subregional imbalances with regards infrastructure, commerce and territory planning.


Programmes and Implementation Projects

The Programme of integrated rural development centered on small and medium hydraulics (DRI-PMH) aims to improve revenue and quality of life for rural communities dependent on small and medium hydraulics in 15 provinces over a period of 13 years (2001-2013), mainly in the framework of coordinated investment destined to rehabilitate and modernize the perimeters of PMH and complementary community infrastructure (rural paths, drinking water conveyance and purification, electrification, schools and health clinics).
The first stage of this programme (2001-2006) was initiated in the perimeters of PMH selected in three provinces: Azilal, Khenifra and Al Haouz. It represents a stage of adaptation to a new mode of intervention and aims to rehabilitate 9,450 ha.
The Project of rural development of mountainous zones of the province of Al Haouz has the strategic objective to reinforce the management and local development capacities of mountain populations in order to increase their revenue, their standard of living and their food security, with the concern to use natural resources sustainably.
This project has retained the following specific objectives:

    • Reinforcing capacities and promoting local development;
    • Improving production conditions, increasing and diversifying agricultural and extra-agricultural revenue of targeted groups;
    • Improving living conditions of populations by facilitating their access to basic socio-economic infrastructure;
    • Facilitating access of poorer populations and particularly women to financial services in a sustainable way;
    • Promoting sustainable management of natural resources.

This project has been implemented using a participative approach based on concertation and partnership, and interests 17 underprivileged rural communities in the province of Al Haouz, one of the poorest in Morocco.
The integrated rural development project to favour bour zones (DRI-MVB) is built around three major forces:

    • Add to the coherence of all rural development programmes and the enhancement of bour zones of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with the objectives of the 2020 Strategy of rural development;
    • Develop new approaches to develop agriculture in bour zones taking into account the structural character of droughts and regional specificities;
    • Concentrate interventions on priority action zones chosen according to criteria which reflect the level of poverty of local populations, the level of degradation of their natural resources and the lack of infrastructure and basic rural services.

This project targets the development of two categories of activities:

    • activities to reduce poverty in isolated areas of light rainfall, including the Atlas mountain (Taroudant), presaharan oasis (Provinces of Tata and Errachidia), the High Oriental Plateaux (Province of Boulemane), and the arid zone of the centre (Province of Khouribga), the latter two are part of the underprivileged bour;
    • activities to promote agricultural growth in heavier rainfall areas (favorable bour), including cereal plains (Khemisset), and hills and piedmonts of the Rif (Province of Sidi Kacem).


National Initiative for Human Development

The National initiative for human development (INDH) has a global vision of human and social development and aims to fight against poverty, exclusion and precarity: poverty affects more than 23% of the rural population in Morocco; social exclusion affects 700,000 households; 4 million people live in unregulated areas or slums; 2% of the urban population suffers from precarity.
Its action plan revolves around four priority programmes:

    • programme to fight against poverty in rural areas;
    • programme to fight against social exclusion in urban areas;
    • programme to fight against precarity;
    • transversal programme.

In addition to the implementation of programmes by sector, integrated rural development programmes and “towns without slums” programmes, etc., and operations carried out in these frameworks, the INDH aims at the following actions:

    • aid to access social, sanitary and basic educational equipment;
    • dynamisation of the local economic fabric through income generating activities;
    • aid to social action: literacy, sport, and preventive health programmes;
    • reinforcement of local governement and capacities.

Concerning the priority programme to fight against rural poverty, it targets 360 rural townships among the poorest (average population of a rural township: around 10,300 inhabitants) and has set objectives to improve the human development index, mainly to reduce the poverty rate in the poorest townships.

III. Access to resources on rural development in Marocco