A Participatory Approach to Building Human Capital: Morocco’s National Human Development Initiative

This delivery note examines a prominent national program in Morocco that contributed to driving the development of the country’s human capital: the National Human Development Initiative (NHDI). Launched in 2005 by King Mohammed VI, he described it as “a royal project that places the human element at the center of national policies.” The main goal of the NHDI was to address critical gaps in Morocco’s development trajectory, such as high poverty in rural areas, social exclusion in urban areas, and the lack of opportunities and resources available to vulnerable populations. It was designed to improve socioeconomic conditions in targeted poor areas through participatory local governance mechanisms.

The government implemented the initiative at the level of rural and urban local governments (known in Morocco as communes) and in urban neighborhoods. The program was implemented in multiple phases, adapting to changing circumstances as it facilitated projects that advanced human capital development.

The NHDI demonstrated the effectiveness of the “whole of government” approach that, according to the World Bank’s Human Capital Project, can overcome challenges countries face in developing their human capital. The three elements of this approach are: continuity (sustaining effort across political cycles), coordination (ensuring that sectoral programs and agencies work together), and evidence (expanding and using the evidence base to improve and update human capital strategies) (Human Capital Project 2019a). This delivery note focuses on the first and second elements—continuity and coordination. It examines how the NHDI guided development policy over time and incorporated regional- and local-level actors in selecting, financing, and implementing development projects around the country across multiple sectors.