High Atlas Foundation

The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) is a Moroccan association and a U.S. 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization founded in 2000 by former Peace Corps Volunteers, and is dedicated to participatory grassroots human development in disadvantaged areas in Morocco, mostly rural. HAF received United Nations Special Consultative Status in 2011. HAF's team is comprised mostly of Moroccans with some international members. Using a participatory approach, HAF works to establish development projects in Morocco that local communities design and manage, and that are in partnership with government and non-government agencies. HAF is committed to facilitating, and training facilitators in, the participatory approac...
Mar 3, 2015

Updates from the Mohammedia Training Center

In the past quarter, the High Atlas Foundation’s team has launched Legal Aid Program (LAP) to support democratic participation of CSO leaders and activists in advocacy strategies and increase their role in creating change. This new program will also enable addressing structural impediments that were identified the previous rounds of training especially relating to land ownership and inclusive participation in creating Municipal Development Plans.

The quarter was dedicated to communication about the program and the mobilization of partners. Thus, we held several meetings with the relevant local authorities, directors of youth centers, and elected officials and communal leaders in the different communes of Mohammedia to present the program as well as explain goal and objectives.

Additionally, program staff identified and confirmed participants in the workshops and LAP: law students, civil society organization (CSO) members, activists and community leaders. The project team recruited CSO members for their commitment to advocate for policy change and reforms, their capacity to address local needs, and their desire to design and manage campaigns using a participatory approach. HAF’s team also recruited law students from the Faculty to benefit from the capacity building program and later to provide legal counsel, under professional supervision, to the CSO members involved in the workshops.

In order to measure the knowledge regarding legal framework for advocacy based on Morocco’s newly revised constitution and laws, and to understand local development issues, the team conducted a survey among the program beneficiaries. The survey gathered information on the organizations’ assessment of their current advocacy efforts and watchdog functions as well as current legal barriers, and their needs in terms of legal services.

To meet the outlined objectives and achieve the overall goal of advancing democracy through participation in sustainable development projects, the first quarter involved the implementation of six-month workshops preceding the legal service provisioning phase. The objective of these “Participatory Planning and Development Workshops” is threefold:

  1. To equip the participants with the ability to identify barriers to advancing their change and development goals
  2. To conceptualize positive change
  3. To present participatory tools to help analyze economic, environmental, political, and social conditions and opportunities.

106 CSO activists, communal leaders and students attended three workshops held during the quarter.

  • The first workshop was dedicated to the presentation of the Legal Aid Program, its goal and objectives and to assessing the level of knowledge and expectations of the participants regarding legal services.
  • The second workshop was titled “Techniques and Tools to Identify the Challenges and Obstacles to Realize Change and Concretize Local Development Initiatives”. The workshop included a discussion of the concept of change management and the treatment of modifications of laws to which associations aspire. It also taught techniques to identify obstacles that prevent associations from concretizing their initiatives.
  • The third workshop was related to the association’s self-assessment. The participants learned the concept, importance and types of self-assessment, and gained the skills to conduct the process of self-assessment and as a result to determine the strengths and the functional areas that require support.
Feb 24, 2015

Sami's Project planting season in full swing!

Putting a tree in the ground
Putting a tree in the ground

Moroccan farmers are planting all across Morocco, and the High Atlas Foundation and Sami’s Project are no exception. In mid-January, Project Manager Amina El Hajjami visited twenty-one elementary school students in Al Houz province. The Moroccan semester break is ending, and the next two weeks will bring both many more plantings both around Marrakech and much farther afield.

On January 17th, two HAF staff members visited several schools in rural areas around Amzmiz, a small town at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. At many of the schools visited, as soon as staff members began unloading trees grown in HAF’s nurseries, students rushed to help bring trees and prepare the planting site.

After a brainstorm about the benefits of trees and how they contribute to both the environment and the economy, students got to work planting the tree that they had brought into the school. Some schools were well established and larger, whereas others further outside of the city consist of a network of one-room schools.

By the end of the day, students planted 195 trees at seven different schools, including 80 pomegranate, 30 walnut, and 30 olive trees. This is just one day in HAF’s ongoing planting season. Furthermore, the High Atlas Foundation is currently finalizing draft activities for a standardized environmental education curriculum for teachers and administrators to expand and adapt. In the spirit of HAF’s dedication to participatory planning, teachers will determine the majority of the curriculum design at a workshop including administrators and parent organization members at the end of this month.

Tree plantings at elementary schools in rural Morocco are not just tree plantings—they allow students to gain a sense of responsibility in caring for their tree and a more pleasant environment in which to go to school every day. Thank you for supporting our goal of allowing students to learn about the environment while making their schools better places!

One of the planting sites at Madrasa Al Atlas
One of the planting sites at Madrasa Al Atlas
The last step--water!
The last step--water!
Jan 6, 2015

Ourika Associations organize a conversation around clean drinking water in Azaghar

The Federation of Civil Society Associations of Ourika includes seven associations.  We at HAF appreciate their dedication and so we would like to mention them individually: 

• Afoulki Association for Development

• Association Noor for Development

• Association Asrou for Development

• Association Fam Lhari

• Association Koji for Solidarity and Development

• Tifawin Association for Development

• Oulad yahya Association

They organized a day around the conservation of clean drinking water in Azaghar Milk Coop in the Ourika commune of the Al Haouz province. 

Two of HAF’s team members, Fatima-Zahra Laaribi and Fatima Baamrani, attended the meeting to learn about the project and to share information about HAF’s projects around Morocco. 

Fatima-Zahra shares her reflection of the day: After been introduced, I provided a general view about HAF’s mission, achievements and activities in nine provinces of Morocco. Fatima Baamrani talked about the Toubkal project in details and organic certification, which was secured for 300 hectares of walnuts and almonds – a first for the mountain region that produces 35% of Morocco walnuts. In relation to water projects we mentioned, that HAF built 18 drinking water systems in rural villages because water has always been a top priority and life-sustaining, and is essential to the survival of all other organisms.

After that, Mr. Moubark Alioui the president of an IT association called “The Users of Free Computer sciences Techniques Association” to share their presentation about the IT project to manage the sector of water as well as the administrative management of the associations. The objective behind this presentation is to raise awareness and to build the capacities for the management of water within each association.

The presentation was followed by exchanges of views as well as a delivery of statements. Thus most of the associations discussed problems and challenges that they faced in this sector.

At the end, most of the associations asked for significant training in this sector and gave positive feedback. 

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