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 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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Apr 8, 2015

World Water Day

At a school in Lahlalate, Rhamna Province
At a school in Lahlalate, Rhamna Province

The High Atlas Foundation is in the process of securing funding for several new drinking water projects, but in the meantime, we took time to celebrate World Water Day on March 22, 2015 and all of the projects that HAF conducts to secure access to clean and safe drinking water for rural communities and schools in Morocco.

HAF has provided 19 clean drinking water systems over the last several years, benefitting 4,000 villagers. The benefits of access to clean and safe water are enormous: for every one dollar spent on water and sanitation there is a four dollar economic return. According to the World Health Organization, only 20 liters (approximately 5.2 gallons) of water per person per day is enough to provide for basic hygiene and food hygiene needs.

Through Sami’s Project, HAF works to make sure there is access to water in schools because this access, to both drinking water and bathroom facilities, which is key to increasing girl’s participation in education. The Brookings Institution has shown that increasing girls’ participation in education not only decreases later infant mortality, but also allows women to gain earning power and be part of the labor force. In 85 Moroccan schools, we are working to create a more comfortable, sustainable environment.

In HAF’s work in agriculture, water is also a vital factor. Efficient irrigation and use of water is important in creating sustainable agriculture in the arid mountain environments where we work. By 2050, according to the UN, developing countries will need to produce 100% more agriculturally to meet demand driven by urbanization and population growth. Efficient use of water resources will be a vital part of this.

One community and one solution at a time, HAF is working on solutions to these problems posed on World Water Day. We thank you for your support and hope that we can continue to partner to improve the lives of rural Moroccan families!

Apr 8, 2015

New Nurseries and Women's Empowerment in Ourika

Over the other side of the mountains from Tifnoute, the High Atlas Foundation is investing in irrigation infrastructure for two new nurseries this summer and fall. In partnership with the commune of Tnin Ourika and Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, the High Atlas Foundation is developing two nurseries on plots of land identified and donated by the community. The long-term objective of this project is to increase women's empowerment and economic self-sufficiency through the creation of a green economy, and will be implemented by monetizing the organic agriculture value chain and participatory training to women in the community.

In addition to planting 60,000 seeds, HAF will also train a minimum of 60 women from the community in cooperative creation and management, the participatory approach, organic agriculture, nursery management and maintenance, etc. These trainings, relying on experiential learning, will help women generate more income for their households, giving greater impact to the project objectives. The use of organic farming techniques helps generate value-added products that are green economy drivers for Morocco. As part of the training, HAF will guide women to identify their villages' top priority development projects, which will further promote women's empowerment.

The work will include plot development, terracing, stone removal, manure addition and installing barbed wire fences. To ensure proper management of natural water resources, nurseries will be equipped with a drip irrigation system connected to a well. Thereafter, the seeds (saffron, fruit trees, ricinus communis, aromatic and medicinal plants—determined by the community) will be sown.

The High Atlas Foundation is grateful for your generosity that allows us to pursue this and other participatory development projects like it throughout Morocco. It makes a tangible difference in communities we work in. Irrigation and the broader establishment of nurseries allow rural communities to empower themselves economically and learn about how they can participate in the new democratic framework of Morocco.

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