High standards bringing change in Morocco

When we work with our partners, we try to strengthen their learning and ability to respond to the problem of HIV. The Alliance has an accreditation system, which guarantees standards and ensures shared vision and values across the organisation. We use assessment teams from peer organisations to rigorously assess national organisations against high standards. The process also helps organisations identify areas where they may need technical support.

Association Marocaine de Solidarité et de Développement (AMSED) in Morocco works to prevent HIV and increase services for ‘most-at-risk’ populations including men who have sex with men, sex workers, mobile and migrant populations, single mothers, illiterate women, young people and sexually transmitted infection service users. Through the accreditation process AMSED has strengthened several areas, including its financial capacity. This helped it scale up HIV prevention work under its Global Fund activities, and expand its onward granting mechanisms. AMSED now (2013 data) provides grants to 119 community-based organisations, compared to 75 in 2012 when it was first accredited.

AMSED shares its expertise through the technical support it provides to 200 grassroots organisations. It builds their skills to report to donors and strengthens their community programmes.

Supporting men who have sex with men

Through our Middle East and North Africa programme AMSED’s partners build the capacity of groups of men who have sex with men to carry out peer education and provide HIV prevention services. Same sex activity is criminalised in Morocco and convictions can result in up to three years imprisonment. Community participation, using ideas like the peer leader approach, is key to engaging marginalised groups. When people’s identities are criminalised it takes a huge amount of trust for them to access services.

Jamel, 21, is a gay peer outreach worker. He initially came in contact with OPALS, one of the community-based organisations supported by AMSED, as a client. Prior to that he had struggled to accept his sexuality. “In the past I was so concerned I couldn’t sleep. I suffered a lot from stigma,” he explains. “Now I am supported by the NGO. I feel that I have dignity and I have the right to live as I wish. After the training I wanted to put everything into practice and share the information... I have a great responsibility and commitment to my peers.”

AMSED’s work, along with other organisations, has increased the visibility of issues related to men who have sex with men and this has led to the recent success of the Moroccan Ministry of Health including a reference to this group in its 2012-16 national AIDS plan.

I feel that I have dignity and I have the right to live as I wish.