October 01 2013

Morocco’s New Cities Program Lacks Basic Service Accessibility

In 2004, development work was launched in the first site, Tamansourt, nearby Marrakech, of Morocco’s “Villes Nouvelles” (New Cities) program. By 2020, the program aims to create 15 cities evolving around the major country’s urban centers to host a total of 1,150,000 residents. With an investment of over $12 billion, this program had opened 5,000 hectares for urban development.

Construction at the Fes Saiss new urban center, Morocco

As outlined by the Moroccan ministry in charge of housing and urban development, the program’s main goals are:

  • Reinforcing Morocco’s urban structures and networks;
  • Diversifying the housing stock offer;
  • Anticipating future urban growth needs;
  • Creating sustainable urban environments;
  • Reinforcing public-private partnerships.

The vision for these new cities is to become real urban centers that will include all the components necessary to create healthy cities. Capital investments in transportation infrastructure, health and education services, and the creation of employment centers in addition to major housing developments are all part of the program.

The new cities also aim to contribute to the achievement of the existing “Villes Sans Bidonvilles” (cities without slums) program’s goal. This program’s main purpose is to fight urban poverty and social exclusion. By relocating slums’ dwellers in better housing conditions and providing affordable housing for a growing working middle class, the new developments’ goal is to create inclusive cities.

Affordable apartments - Fes Saiss new urban center, Morocco

Since its independence in 1956, Morocco has been facing a continuous growth of its urban population, mainly because of a massive rural exodus that is bleeding Morocco’s villages and countryside. This growth is estimated at an annual average of 4%, which has created an unprecedented housing demand.

Two cities, Tamansourt and Tamesna in Rabat’s periphery, of four under development, are already hosting their first residents. By the end of its development phases, Tamansnourt will have 88,000 units housing 450,000 residents, while Tamesna will host 250,000 residents in 54,000 housing units. This offer will cover 38% of the capital’s region housing needs. Among the 54,000 housing units, 8,300 will target slum dwellers (social housing) and 11,300 are affordable units.

Individual houses at Fes Saiss new urban center, Morocco

The new developments are however already facing challenges and difficulties mainly related to infrastructure development, transportation, health and education facilities and other proximity services availability. These amenities haven’t been developed at the same cadence as housing. The current residents suffer from isolation due to weak public transportation network and a lack of accessibility to proximity services and amenities.

What should be the development priorities of a healthy city or urban center? What are some of the main challenges faced by new cities?

Credits: Images by Sarah Essbai. Data linked to sources.

Sarah Essbai

Sarah Essbai graduated recently with a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from Ball State University in Indiana where she pursued her studies as a Fulbright scholar. Prior to moving to the US, Sarah obtained her Diplome d’Architecte from the Ecole Nationale d’Architecture in Rabat, Morocco. In Morocco, Sarah worked on the development of a green lodging facility in the Moroccan desert as well as the historic rehabilitation of the historic center of Fez, her hometown. Sarah’s interests include affordable housing, which was the subject of her master’s thesis, community development, real estate crowdfunding and social design. She believes that within these topics, sustainability should be inherent and should be a necessary component of every design project and development.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 at 9:20 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Government/Politics, Housing, Land Use, Social/Demographics, Urban Development/Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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One Response to “Morocco’s New Cities Program Lacks Basic Service Accessibility”

  1. nadine Says:

    great post

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