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...
Jun 26, 2015

Women of Akrich, Unite!

Sacred Land & Nursery in Akrich
Sacred Land & Nursery in Akrich

Dear all,

Ramadan Mubarak!

While the “One Billion Tree” campaign continues to extend its roots over the generously donated sacred Jewish lands within Marrakech’s Tensift-Al Haouz region, something new is sprouting up in the village of Akrich, located in the Tamesloht region.

Using the participatory method, Amina Samkane, one of HAF’s dedicated and diligent team members, has recently begun collaborating with the women of Akrich to facilitate the emergence of the Association of Al Amal for the Promotion of Rural Women and Children in Akrich. The association has 11 official members, and will benefit over 60 families within the community.

The start of the organic intercultural agricultural initiative on February 9th, saw the planting of 30,000 saplings, seeds, and two year old trees--with the ultimate goal being 80-120,000 saplings, and is projecting to benefit as many as 10,000 people. While women, men, and children alike are included in the projected beneficiary group of 10,000, men have typically been the agricultural caretakers of the community, which has left women without direct involvement in these initiatives. As Amina noted, if there is anything the women of Akrich are, it is active- in the past the women helped build the mosque in Akrich, as well as organized a program for illiteracy.

The Association of Al Amal for the Promotion of Rural Women and Children in Akrich is an initiative dedicated solely to the women of Akrich for economic empowerment. The association, as decided by the Akrich women themselves, hopes to span some 200 meters on the donated Jewish land (each meter costs 200 dirhams). Establishing this space for the association is the women’s current and top priority, followed by the development of profitable projects--such as selling cakes and artisanal crafts--and organizing the construction of a sewage system, play space for children, and a formal trash collecting service and storage facility.

Meanwhile the future of the “One Billion Tree” campaign looks bright, as the relationship between the Muslim and Jewish communities remains as strong as ever.

The High Atlas Foundation would like to extend its gratitude to all of its supporters! Thank you for helping us to achieve our mission of harboring sustainable prosperity in Morocco!

Wishing everyone a very happy Ramadan and/or wonderful summer thus far!

~The High Atlas Foundation Team~

Amina and Akrich Women Collaborating
Amina and Akrich Women Collaborating
Participatory Method-Social Mapping Up Close
Participatory Method-Social Mapping Up Close

Links:

Jun 2, 2015

Updates on Legal Aid Program in Mohammedia

Training Sessions in Mohamedia
Training Sessions in Mohamedia

Since March of 2015, the Legal Aid Program (LAP) has continued to achieve and exceed identified goals and objectives. Specifically, LAP has continued conducting weekly workshops, attended by the 46 CSO activists and 28 University Students. Additionally, the Advocacy Training Module was successfully completed and the team has started teaching the Communal Development Planning Training Module.

Fatna Sakni’s story is an example of one of the many benificiaries that has effectively implemented their training through LAP. Sakni, president of the Association Initiative and Citizenship, has been very successful in her advocacy efforts. Particularly in influencing the governor and Ain Harrouda community council decisions related to supporting and promoting small enterprises for women. Through her work with HAF, she was able to create a network of women’s groups interested in creating their own enterprises and cooperatives. Sakni took a leading role during meetings with the governor, the delegate of National Welfare and cooperatives and the elected community council. As a result, National Initiative for Human Development (INDH) funding was approved to create three cooperatives employing a gourd of 95 women.

Moreover, participating CSO’s have effectively established programs and secured competitive funding resources for their projects. Since the last report:

  1. 13 CSOs developed and implemented effective advocacy strategies related to improving elementary education for slum communities.
  2. Seven CSOs presented and discussed project proposals during meetings with provincial INDH committees. Among them, five CSO’s secured funding for community identified projects to benefit over 300 community members.
  3. 12 CSOs coordinated advocacy efforts to influence the national debate on the revised criminal laws.

We see that participating CSOs are organizing themselves into two major coalitions and have started developing a proposed communal development plan.  This plan will be submitted to the future elected community council. With the communal elections coming up in September of 2015, CSOs are also preparing an advocacy strategy to ensure a participatory process that may convey the main priorities of the upcoming communal development plan. 

The Legal Aid Program (LAP) was created as a collaborative effort between the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) and the Hasan II University in Mohamedia. Since it’s inception in 2014, LAP has continued to assist CSO activists and marginalized populations gain the knowledge and skills to necessary to identify issues and design sustainable solutions through self-initiated development projects and active contribution to local and national policy reform process. The key objectives of LAP have been to increase democratic participation of Civil Service Organizations (CSO) in policy reforms, build CSO’s capacity to implement and monitor projects and promote good governance.

Training Sessions in Mohamedia
Training Sessions in Mohamedia
Jun 2, 2015

Tree planting at Sidi Bouskri School, Essaouira

On a Saturday in March, the Teachers Association of Life Sciences and the Earth, partnering with the High Atlas Foundation, completed planting 110 Argon, carob and olive trees with students at the Sidi Bouskri School in Smimou, Essaouira.

With the support of the PaperSeed Foundation and the Embassy of Switzerland, Rabat, this project is also planting a community tree nursery of 40,000 fruit seeds, and is working to establish an organic agricultural value-chain with rural communities.  

The trees planted marked the beginning of a tree nursery, an environmental education program and, eventually, a crucial source of revenue to benefit the students of this small rural school, based near Essaouira. According to Abderrahim Ouarghidi, HAF’s Director of Programs, students will soon learn to care for saplings, which will eventually be distributed to local farmers.

“That nursery is going to be not only for generating income for rural families, but it’s going to be a fun and interesting opportunity for the kids to learn stuff about how they can build a nursery, and how they can organically maintain trees that greatly enhance their lives,” said Ouarghidi. 

HAF and the Teachers Association of Life Sciences and the Earth are signing in the month of April 2015 the partnership agreement related to the nursery and assisting human development in the area.  The immediate objective is to build a well, terraces, a greenhouse, and plant 40,000 seeds, over the next six months.

The Sidi Bouskri nursery is part of Sami’s Project, a program focused on enhancing elementary school education and breaking the cycle of poverty through environmental education, tree planting activities and improved infrastructure. Through Sami’s Project, HAF has worked with 152 schools to plant trees, and built clean drinking water systems and bathrooms with 10 schools, four school classrooms, and one teacher’s house. HAF also offers tutoring and scholarships to empower students from families engaged in subsistence agriculture to pursue higher education.

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