Tetouan Morocco | Wikimedia/Yassine Abbadi, CC-BY-2.0

Best Practice


Thematic block

City Development Strategies, Metropolitan Cooperation





Project Description

The Metropolitan Cooperation in the Tetouan region project ran from 2003 to 2009 under the partnership of USAID, UN HABITAT, The International Network for Urban Development, the Arab Media Forum for Environment and Development, the Near East and North Africa Region (NENA) Urban Forum, and the Morocco Urban Forum.

As a gateway between Europe and the Middle East and Northern Africa, Morocco has historically played a dynamic role in international and regional movements. In 2003 a royally backed decentralisation initiative increased Moroccan cities’ administrative and financial responsibilities while reuniting many previously divided municipalities. This set the stage for local authorities to cooperate and systematically develop a plan for Tetouan. The greater metropolitan area’s economy is centred on tourism and commerce, but many had been left behind: A fifth of its roughly one million residents live in informal settlements, and nearly half of these households lack electricity, potable water and other basic services.

The CDS sought to address a number of challenges: a fragile economic base incapable of generating enough jobs or resources for a rapidly growing population; proliferating informal settlements that concentrate the poor; inadequate infrastructure and services (especially in poor neighborhoods); disorganised urban transport and mobility; and environmental degradation, particularly with regard to water resources.



  1. The CDS process marked the first occasion for members of the general public, the private sector, civil society and public officials to come together to discuss the city’s problems and future: this reinforced the decentralisation process and facilitated inclusive policies as well as greater accountability and other good governance principles. It has also served to institutionalise the strategic planning approach and to direct local and national spending.
  2. Everyone’s knowledge of the territory improved, and some critical urban issues were highlighted for the first time.
  3. Built the capacity of local and regional authorities
  4. Guided urban projects in the area
  5. Inspired other CDSs in the region namely: cities in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria.
  6. The CDS process was led by the municipality and positioned it as the leader of the area’s development and investment plans: this created a sense of ownership among the urban citizens and it prompted a shift in thinking where the mayor begun to think of himself not just as an administrator, but as someone accountable for city development and responsible for finding funding for capital investment priorities.


It is believed that the process would have been more efficient if the CDS targets and their priority levels had been validated through a formal participatory process and then translated into action plans that identified financial resources to be used for implementation. Nevertheless, this did not stop Tetouan’s various municipalities from proceeding to create local development plans that benefitted from the CDS’ strategic framework


Survival of the CDSs beyond the mayors’ electoral cycle was an issue of concern.


Source: Cities Alliance in Action. Morocco’s Tetouan Paves the Way With Its City Development Strategy [Accessed 17-06-2016]