The Best Practice is work by the Moroccan National Shelter Upgrading Agency (ANHI) in
the metropolitan area of Agadir, a large city devastated by a 1960 earthquake, and where
provision of housing for lower income families has since been largely insufficient. The
work has helped squatters, slum dwellers and other lower income households (a large
percentage with woman head of household) improve not only their shelter conditions, but
their integration into the economic, social and political life of the city. The integrated
program is characterized by long-range vision and active engagement of the client
community in planning and implementation.
The Best Practice being proposed is work by the Moroccan National Shelter Upgrading
Agency (Agence Nationale de Lutte contre l'Habitat Insalubre - ANHI) in improving
conditions for squatters and slum dwellers in Agadir, Morocco. ANHI's approach involves a
focus on the whole urban area and its long-term needs, active engagement of the client
community, technical assistance to low income clients, and integrated results. Three
Agadir projects are used to demonstrate the approach: R'Mel, a squatter area transformed,
Marins-Pecheurs, rehousing of squatters in their densely settled urban neighborhood, and
Tikiouine, multiple actions for rehousing squatters, upgrading clandestine neighborhoods,
and creating new housing areas.
Agadir, one of the largest cities in Morocco, has a serious problem of substandard
housing, particularly shantytowns (bidonvilles). The city was devastated by an earthquake
in 1960. Government efforts to rebuild the city's infrastructure (important port, canning
and tourism industries) were not effective in promoting decent housing for the poor in the
face of rapid population increase (nearly twice the national average) and limited
resources. By 1992 the metropolitan area counted 77 separate shanty areas with some 12,500
households. Census estimates are that bidonvilles house over 13% of Agadir's population.
And, in Agadir, unlike most Moroccan cities, many bidonville residents have lived in their
shacks for decades - often since the earthquake - and are not easily convinced to move.
With new low income neighborhoods on the periphery which are largely unplanned and
underserviced (without public utilities, streets or access to city services), Agadir's
housing problem is daunting.
The first element to be described, R'Mel integrated project in Agadir's Inezgane commune,
deals with an established squatter community. The project was designed by ANHI to improve
the living conditions of more than 1,000 lower income households. The project helps
members of a shanty community to purchase serviced lots to build permanent housing, and
provides basic services (water, sewer, electricity, streets), and the right to legal
tenure. The project is designed and implemented with active community participation, and
based on self-help principles. Some 25,000 jobs were created annually during the three
year period of housing construction. Many microenterprise jobs are sustained beyond
project completion, as the neighborhodd develops, and middle income families move into
adjoining house/apartment lots sold for cross-subsidy purposes.
The project was designed in 1988, as one of ANHI's first activities in Agadir. R'Mel is an
established bidonville. Some families had moved there (on unbuilt government land) just
after the 1960 earthquake. They had used stones from destroyed buildings to construct tiny
hovels, building on new units as family size increased. There were no urban services, no
public utilities. R'Mel families knew what they wanted: to live better, and to stay there.
ANHI's project design provided for gradual demolition of the shanties, moving people as
new housing lots were completed and downpayments received. But about 40% of households had
built small houses over the years, and they refused to have their homes touched. This made
the project impossible to implement as designed.
Rather than give up and work on an easier project, ANHI agreed to redesign the project
with community input. The new plan was more expensive (building infrastructure around
houses is more difficult than on raw land). It would take more time. The resulting
neighborhood might be less attractive than city fathers desired (the existing houses were
structurally sound, but not aesthetically pleasing). Luckily the local government agreed
to be very flexible. To help cover costs, additional lots for larger houses and small
apartment buildings were added at the edges of the site, for sale at profit, the proceeds
flowing into the project account.
Community members, commune and government representatives, as well as ANHI technicians
formed a permanent commission to oversee the project. The commission had input into
project design, and played a key role in gaining community adhesion to the project. Group
meetings, publicity campaigns and individual counseling sessions were organized to gain
residents' interest and support. Households were given assistance in demolition and moving
(even to carting building stones to the new lots), were allowed to begin construction of
the new home at their own pace, were provided with blueprints (usable by the skilled mason
each family hired to oversee construction). A technical office operated on site, with
private architect, project engineer and other staff to provide technical advice and
counseling, as well as to collect installment payments for the lots (and for utility
hookups for those not moving). Each household paid for its lot and utilities, and built
its own house. Over 1,000 R'Mel households (27% with woman head of household) gained legal
land title through the project.
The community worked together in the project. Neighbors, with assistance from ANHI and
local government, helped in moving. Those who built homes first learned construction
skills that allowed them to work on neighbors' houses (and, eventually, outside the
community). It took 14 months to demolish all the old units; about 45 families moved each
month. Once on the new lot, some families completed construction quickly, others built
only the groundfloor of a two-story design. Many sought co-owners to help pay for the unit
(selling "air rights" - in effecting creating a duplex unit - is an accepted way
to finance a home in Morocco). The poorest were allowed to rebuild the shack (now behind a
wall, and with utility connections).
The project improved the settlement in a sustainable manner. R'Mel neighborhood was
preserved as a community. No one had to leave. For the first time the community acted as
an organized group in dealing with government, and its voice was heard. Residents improved
their living standards through their own efforts. The neighborhood committee continues to
work, responding to citizen demands, dealing with any social conflicts which may arise
with the transformation of the neighborhood, and engaging community participation.
The project is self-financing. The market sale of housing, apartment and commercial lots
on the edges of the neighborhood generated profits which allowed reduced prices to lower
income clients. The estimated cost of the project to ANHI is $14 million. About 80% of the
cost is covered by the cross-subsidy operation. Client advances, from both middle and
lower income buyers, allowed infrastructure works (all contracted to the private sector)
to be completed. The pace of the project followed the pace of payments.
The project created employment. Many residents learned construction skills, and gained
employment which continues as surrounding middle class housing is built. New services
developed (such as food preparation), often woman-operated from homes. The cross-subsidy
lots, for middle income houses and apartment buildings, will provide for an integrated
neighborhood, as well as forestalling the development of new shanty areas. The new
neighborhood of R'Mel will have 4,000 housing units when completely built. The local
government is building schools, shops and markets have opened, and there are a mosque and
police station nearby, all creating a neighborhood which is indistinguishable from others.
This is a major achievement.
The second project, Marins-Pecheurs, deals with a somewhat different challenge in dealing
with urban squatter settlements. The project responds to the problem of how to relodge
squatters in a densely built urban setting, with minimal social disruption. The project
provides for the construction of small rowhouses for sale to squatters near their current
site, associated with creation of middle income apartments for cross-subsidy purposes.
The Marins-Pecheurs project was started in 1988, with the plan to rehouse 175 squatter
households in multifamily apartment houses. The urban neighborhood was deemed too densely
settled to allow each family to build its own unit. Apartment living is typical among
middle income urban families in Morocco. However, the squatter families (37% with woman
head of household and used to individual homes - albeit shacks) refused to move to shared
buildings. The city government had the option of forcing them to move (either away
altogether or into apartments) or looking for a compromise solution.
With the help of the newly established ANHI regional office, it chose the latter option.
After intensive community consultations, ANHI redesigned the project to allow individual
core housing units (rowhouses) to be constructed for the squatters, and apartments/lots
developed for cross-subsidy purposes. The community, ANHI and local government compromised
on the following format: 175 semi-finished rowhouses (50m2 with possibility of additional
story) for squatter families, 40 apartment units and lots for 450 apartments for sale for
cross-subsidy. The project cost is estimated at $4.3 million. Some 80% of its financing is
assured by unit sales (55% from cross-subsidy and 25% from former squatters). The
Government of Morocco contributed 20% of the funding, in view of the poverty of the
squatter community and extra cost of rehousing residents within a built-up urban
The project was redesigned, and is being implemented, with close community cooperation.
Weekly meetings are held on the site, with city elected officers, government officials,
ANHI staff and community representatives to monitor project progress and solve particular
problems. Technical and sales offices operate on the site, allowing daily interaction with
clients. Squatter families are helped to demolish their shacks and to move their
possessions. For those wishing to expand or upgrade their new home, blueprints and
technical advice are provided. During construction phase, many residents were able to gain
paid employment in or related to construction work. It is anticipated that many residents
will continue to work as the neighborhood develops. Some clients have already improved
their core home, investing US$6,000 on average - nearly 50% of the cost of the original
The new neighborhood not only helps squatters become integrated into the city, but
benefits surrounding residents as well, through the construction of roads, sewer and water
mains, and public lighting systems. The whole area benefits from improved environmental
conditions, and enhanced sanitation services.
The third element, in Tikiouine commune (a new satellite community in metropolitan
Agadir), combines three approaches to improving low income shelter conditions. Tikiouine
has grown from 8,400 residents to nearly 27,000 in twelve years. If Agadir's growth
continues its trend, Tikiouine - lying between downtown and the airport, and near an
industrial zone - will have 171,000 inhabitants by the year 2010. The satellite city
already suffers from the problems of its mother city: squatter settlements, unserviced
informal neighborhoods, and insufficient basic infrastructure to support its growing
ANHI's Tikiouine project targets these problems. Three new housing areas are under
development, which will produce about 11,000 lots, of which 32% for sale to squatters and
40% for sale to lower and middle income households, with the remaining lots for
cross-subsidy purposes. Some 3,200 homes in two informal neighborhoods will gain access to
basic utilities (potable water, sewers). Individual semi-finished core housing units (on
the Marins-Pecheurs model) are being built for 300 selected poor clients.
As a new commune, Tikiouine does not have to deal with the limiting factors of R'Mel
(where people have lived for decades, and would not move at all) or Marins-Pecheurs
(rehousing squatters within a densely built neighborhood). However, the lessons learned
from those two projects were applied by ANHI. The programs are being implemented with
collaboration of neighborhood associations, the municipality and local authorities.
Principles of self-help and client financial participation are basic. In the informal
neighborhoods, for example, the community is responsible for tertiary water and sewer
lines, and for individual hookups, with fees collected prior to connection. The project
financing is balanced, with cross-subsidy profits shared across components. Employment is
created. Environmental improvements for the site and surrounding neighborhoods are an
important bonus of the work. The result in all the programs is the transformation of
blighted areas into sustainable, socially integrated urban neighborhoods: a best practice.
R'Mel: serviced housing lots for 650 shanty households,
utilities connections for 400 additional low income households,
eventual creation of neighborhood with 4,000 housing units.
Increased employment (est. 25,000 jobs/year in construction phase alone).
Marins-Pecheurs: rehousing of 175 squatters in urban neighborhood,
40 apartment units for sale,
lots for 450 apartment units for sale.
Tikiouine: 11,000 housing lots, of which 32% for former squatters,
utilities connections for 3,200 lower income families,
300 core housing units for selected poor families.
The three projects are sustainable, creating neighborhoods from former slums which will
become indistinguishable from other urban areas, and promoting integration of lower income
residents into the economic, social and political life of the city.
The R'Mel integrated project is a model which can be replicated in other cities with
squatter settlements on open land. The result of the R'Mel project is a sustainable urban
neighborhood, which is socially integrated and economically viable. The particular
strengths of this approach include:
- Active participation of the client group - squatters - in project design, implementation
- Recognition by civil authorities that these citizens merit access to services.
- Flexible approach by the executing agency, even to helping displaced squatters move
their building stones to new lots.
- Collaboration of central and local government agencies, private sector and citizens in
assuring project success. All groups made adjustments in expectations and schedule to make
the project work.
- Creative dialogue between residents and government. A permanent committee mediates
disputes and helps organize community participation.
- Balanced financing: the project sales proceeds cover investment costs.
- Integration: the intention is to create socially diverse neighborhoods.
The result is a new neighborhood in which over 1,000 lower income households have gained
legal title, have access to basic utilities (potable water, sewer, electricity), and live
in a setting which is environmentally safe. They are becoming part of a larger
neighborhood which is socially integrated, and has access to public services. Through the
project many of the former squatters have gained new skills and microenterprise
employment. They have, for the first time, become a community with a voice in local
The Marins-Pecheurs project provides a model for rehousing squatters in a densely built
urban neighborhood where physical, social and political considerations preclude the sites
and services approach used in R'Mel. The Marins-Pecheurs technique of building small core
units which can be expanded, while preparing other apartment units and lots for sale on
the open market, allows for rehousing of squatters within the neighborhood and creation of
new housing for sale to other families. This model can be replicated by private sector
developers. As in R'Mel, the approach involves close collaboration with residents,
assuring that the final project is accepted by them.
The Tikiouine project uses lessons learned from R'Mel and Marins-Pecheurs in a
fast-growing suburban community with serious problems of squatter and unserviced
neighborhoods, but with ample land for new development. ANHI is working to develop new
housing sites, with mixed lot sizes for social integration of former squatters and middle
income families. Informal neighborhoods are improving their conditions through self-help.
All activities are carried out with community participation in design and implementation.
All projects are financially balanced, applying profits from cross-subsidy lots to reduce
prices to poor families.
Moroccan National Shelter Upgrading Agency, ANHI
2 Rue Osqofia
Commune d'Agadir, Morocco
M. Oumouloud Mohamed
Commune Urbaine Inezgane
Commune d'Inezgane, Agadir, Morocco
M. Watiq Mohamed
Commune Urbaine d'Agadir
Commune de Tikiouine, Agadir, Morocco
President de la Commune
Commune de Tikiouine