Cablegate: Mepi Update for Morocco

DE RUEHRB #0089/01 0281847
R 281847Z JAN 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A) 07 Rabat 1724

1. Summary: This cable highlights MEPI programs and initiatives in
Morocco from October 1-December 30. During the quarter, two
representatives from MEPI's Washington offices visited Morocco.
Highlights from existing programs include activities by the
Advancing Learning and Employability for a Better Future (ALEF)
literacy project, the MEPI Alumni Network, the American Bar
Association (ABA), the Moroccan Center for for Civic Education
(MCCE), the Adala Association and the Financial Services Volunteer
Corps (FSVC). Implementers are partnering with local NGOs at the
grassroots level to support numerous programs committed to reform in
the four MEPI pillars. End Summary.

2. MEPI's North Africa Desk Officer, Saira Saeed, visited Morocco
December 12-15. In Casablanca, she met with education grant
implementer Arab Civitas; a small grant recipient working on youth
and election issues, 2AJ; and Consulate personnel. In Rabat, Saeed
held meetings with the Ambassador, the DCM, members of post's Reform
Committee, and USAID. In addition, she met with MEPI implementers
National Democratic Institute (NDI), ABA, Tanmia and FSVC, and
members of the MEPI Alumni Network. She also joined the IREX team
-- Matt Shelley, MENA Media Director, Hania Oweis, IREX Deputy
Director, and Christine Prince, Senior Program Officer -- for
several of their meetings with embassy officers, representatives of
the Moroccan media, members of the advertising sector and civil
liberties proponents. The IREX team's goal was to evaluate the
existing MENA Media program and to develop a new strategy for media
programming in Morocco.

3. Kit Bartels from MEPI Washington traveled to Rabat November 12-15
on a familiarization visit and to conduct monitoring work. She met
with ABA to discuss future programs including a potential court
clerks training course. She also attended the introduction of ABA's
training program for judges. Bartels met with the MEPI Alumni
Network and Demos Consulting to get an update on their activities.
She also met with Global Rights to discuss its activities, though
the NGO does not currently have MEPI funding. Global Rights'
Director, Stephanie Bordat told Bartels that it was unfortunate that
MEPI funds for women's related issues have decreased, because with
the passing of the Family Code there is increased need for programs
to ensure full implementation of the code. Bartels met with Taly
Lind from USAID, who emphasized USAID's hope for additional funds
for the national role-out of the literacy curriculum of the recently
completed ALEF program. Finally, Bartels discussed with Emboffs
ways to improve coordination efforts in MEPI programs.


4. ALEF has been selected by the Casablanca regional chapter of the
National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), an influential GOM
program, to teach 24,000 Moroccan women how to read and write. The
Casablanca Regional Academy for Education and Training will use the
MEPI-funded ALEF literacy program criteria, developed and tested
with the Directorate for the Fight Against Illiteracy between 2005
and 2007 with 10,100 women in four of Morocco's 16 regions. This
innovative program, designed with the State Secretariat for Literacy
and Non-formal Education and 28 local civil society organizations,
is based on a pre-literacy approach that trains women first in the
basic competencies of reading and writing the Arabic alphabet using
their native Arabic and Berber dialects. The program derives its
content from Morocco's Family Code, focusing on a functional
approach to help women use the Code to improve their lives and those
of their families. The Casablanca region selected the ALEF program
in particular because it has achieved attendance and retention rates
of over 90 percent during the pilot phase, compared to Morocco's
national average of approximately 70 percent.


5. Throughout the quarter, the MEPI Alumni Network organized
numerous activities targeting the differing needs of MEPI Alumni.
In November the network organized a conference entitled "Leadership
Fminin au Maroc" (Women's Leadership in Morocco) that brought
together three influential Moroccan women leaders working in three
different fields (politics, entrepreneurship and social
development): Boutaina Iraqui-Houssaini, who is a MEPI Alumni and
also a recent member of the parliament; Aicha Echenna, a renowned
figure in Morocco who defends single mothers; and Rachida Tahiri,
who is a women's rights activist and currently a Counselor to

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Minister of Social Development, Family and Solidarity Nouzha Skalli.
The conference was attended by 130 participants representing
different MEPI Alumni groups. The network also organized a series
of workshops to enhance the professional and personal development
skills of the MEPI Alumni. These workshops had 15 to 20 alumni and
focused on the skills they acquired during their initial
participation in MEPI programs.


6. During this reporting period, the Institut Superieure de la
Magistrature (ISM), with the assistance of the ABA, finalized a
series of new computer-based training courses for student and
sitting judges on the Family Code and international standards of
women's equality. The courses, which will be available to judges
throughout Morocco via the ISM's website, are at the cutting edge of
efforts in the region to provide uniform and systematic training to
judges. The series of eight training modules is being integrated
into the ISM's core training program and is expected to lead the way
to further computer-assisted judicial training in the future, both
in Morocco and elsewhere in the region.

7. Morocco is on the path to adopting a new charter of judicial
conduct in 2008 and at the same time developing a more effective
judges' association. The Widadiya Hassania, the nascent Moroccan
judicial association, initiated a series of national roundtables in
December to seek judges' views on the adoption of a national
judicial ethics charter. With technical assistance from the ABA,
the Hassania expects to seek adoption of a national ethics charter
at the conclusion of the series of roundtables, first held in the
northern city of Tetouan last spring and recently held in Oujda,
east of Morocco. At the same time as spearheading the drive for an
ethics charter, the Hassania is strengthening its institutional
capacity as an active judge's membership organization. In November,
the executive board of the Hassania met with an institutional
strengthening expert to develop an ambitious organizational
strategic plan, which is expected to lead to a more active and
responsive judges' association for Morocco.


8. During the quarter, MCCE activities included a Project Citizen
workshop for 107 new administrative staff members assigned by the
Academy for Education and Training to various schools in Casablanca.
A second Project Citizen training event was organized for 20 NGOs
operating thought Morocco and it successfully attracted significant
media coverage on both radio and TV.


9. Abdelaziz Nouaydi, head of former MEPI grantee Adala, was one of
the featured speakers at an NDI and the Consultative Council for
Human Rights (CCDH) conference to report on the recent election
observation efforts in Morocco. Nouaydi recently gained notoriety
as the only Moroccan lawyer to publicly agree to defend a group of
men accused of conducting a homosexual wedding in November. Nouaydi
accepted the case despite threats of violence and possible adverse
professional consequences.


10. In November, FSVC organized a four-day study tour to South
Africa for BMCE Bank (Banque Marocaine pour le Commerce Exterieur)
Senior Management studying on-site innovations in low-income
financial product development. Host institutions, which included
NedBank, African Bank Investment Limited, FinMark Trust, Africap
Fund and Wizzit Telephone Banking discussed and presented hands-on
operational issues for the BMCE management team, which included the
Executive Managing Director, Mohamed Bennani, a member of the Board
of BMCE. As a result of this study, and a prior study tour in May
2007 with other banks, BMCE intends to introduce "within the year" a
new range of financial products and services for Morocco's extensive
low-income and informal sectors.

11. From December 3-7, FSVC organized a workshop for Groupe Banques
Populaires (BP) regional bank credit officers on the best banking

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practices and techniques of small-to-medium size enterprises (SME)
lending. The workshop focused on comparative approaches to SME loan
application evaluation, and solutions to loan disbursement and
monitoring. Also in December, FSVC held two consultations with
Morocco's Central Bank, Bank Al Maghrib (BAM) on supporting key
reforms at BAM. The first, December 10-14, reviewed payment
systems oversight plans that confirmed BAM's best practice approach
and added insights on better use of system user contracts to achieve
financial stability and supervision objectives. The second,
December 17-20, reviewed BAM's total business continuity planning as
a service to the financial sector. The results confirmed the
benefits of a best practice approach and the substantial reforms
that MEPI has supported at BAM since 2004.

12. A detailed description of MEPI programs in Morocco can be found
on the Mission unclassified Internet web page at


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