Tarik Nesh-Nash

Ashoka Fellow
Morocco
Fellow Since 2012

Citation

This profile was prepared when Tarik Nesh-Nash was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Building on his recent success in launching the Arab world’s first online crowdsourcing platform to solicit recommendations for the new Constitution in Morocco, Tarik is now focusing on creating the full architecture for ongoing citizen participation in the political processes of his native country. He has honed in on the importance of accelerating the changing attitudes of a previously muted citizenry about its role in democracy. Tarik achieves this by creating the ability for the average citizen to learn about and express his/her views on critical aspects of government—at strategic moments, in real-time, and in a targeted manner. This increased coherency and accessibility of citizens’ demands, in turn, encourages the likely take-up of these demands in the political decision-making process. And this, in turn, encourages more—perhaps previously skeptical and/or apathetic Moroccans—to participate.

Tarik firmly roots himself in the current historic moment that has given rise to many of the key pillars necessary to build this new reality of active citizen engagement. He sees the emergence of a mobilized section of the population already using technology to clamor for change. The February 20th Youth Movement, for example, used Facebook and a YouTube video that went viral to bring tens of thousands of young Moroccans to the streets shortly after a Tunisian streetcar vendor’s self-immolation ignited calls for an end to the old order across the region. More importantly, Tarik recognizes the opportunity to use emergent technology to funnel this clamor into direct participation in many governmental functions—from federal budgeting to parliamentary lawmaking.

And while the call for increased citizen engagement within government halls is less audible than on the streets, Tarik recognizes that there is an increasing cohort of elected officials who seem receptive to this momentum. Up from zero in the last parliamentary election, for example, more than forty current Members of Parliament used the Internet in the November 2011 elections. Many of them are still using social media to stay in touch with citizens. Seven Parliamentarians have already expressed interest in what Tarik is planning to be the foundational platform for active citizen engagement: a soon-to-be created website integrated with the latest social media technology that enables constituents to suggest and respond to various government initiatives and debates in real-time. Instead of waiting until elections four years later to express discontent in a road not being built or schools not being resourced, for example, a simple Tweet from all those discontent could make it such that when Parliamentarians log on, they see on a daily basis what the most urgent requests are. Similarly, Parliamentarians could essentially post a question that was put before them in a committee debate in the morning, hear feedback from thousands by the evening, and return on day two of the debate with the people’s voice on their smartphone. Tarik is set to meet with the head of each of the seven main political parties in Morocco, recognizing that adoption of the platform from any one party will likely trigger the others to follow suit. Tarik is also considering requests to build similar platforms in Egypt.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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