Updated: Jul 17
By Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir
The implications of decentralization for societies in the context of human development.
The Arab Spring signals a time of great potential to address the primary challenge currently facing governments and people in the Middle East and North Africa: to advance human development at a hitherto unseen pace and level of effectiveness. Were this to be accomplished for the majority of the affected population, the social and political consequences would address effectively the root causes of the popular revolts themselves.
The engine for sustainable human development is local communities and neighborhoods identifying, planning, and implementing the socio-economic and environmental projects they most need. Crucially, for this to be achieved, governments in the region must catalyze and further these local processes in two ways, namely: (1) decentralizing decision-making and capacities and creating the necessary administrative arrangements and programs that promote local development and (2) supporting both experiential training in facilitating participatory planning with local communities and the development projects prioritized by the people.
This essay provides programmatic and organizational recommendations for the effective building of civil, governmental, and private capabilities to help implement human development driven by local communities. These recommendations are based on experiences in Morocco and draw heavily from global cases…
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Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir has been working in development since he joined the Peace Corps as a volunteer in Morocco in 1993. In 2000, he co-founded the High Atlas Foundation and served as president of the Board of Directors until January 2011, and since has been president of operations. Dr. Ben-Meir was a member of the faculty at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco (2009-10). He has a PhD degree in sociology from the University of New Mexico (2009) where he also taught, an MA in international development from Clark University (1997), and a BA in economics from New York University (1991).
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