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...
Sep 30, 2013

Update from the field: Everything is Possible

Olive trees planted at a school building
Olive trees planted at a school building

Charlotte Burrows, ambassador for Global Giving UK, spent some time with HAF last week to see firsthand the huge impact of your generous donations. She visited several project sites, including a few villages in the Rahmna Province where HAF has planted and irrigated over 12,000 olive trees, thanks to your support and other partners.

Charlotte spoke with the beneficiaries of the olive tree planting and irrigating project and took away a very profound message from one of the community leaders: everything is possible. 

She writes about this field visit on her blog: “One olive tree nursery I saw had been planted on the slope of a steep, rocky hill. It was a site I would never have thought feasible for planting and irrigation, and when I congratulated the community leader on this, he grinned back at me saying, ‘everything is possible’. As HAF hopes to expand its reach into every one of Morocco’s 48 provinces, this is surely a motto that guides them, too.”

We are so grateful for the support of our individual Global Giving partners, and to Global Giving UK for enabling us the chance to meet Charlotte and share the projects firsthand with her.

Your contributions not only provide rural farmers with a new and sustainable source of income, they get us one step closer to our goal of planting 1 Million Trees! We invite you to continue to partner with us, and we hope one day to see you too in the field.

Community members and irrigation machinery
Community members and irrigation machinery
Sep 30, 2013

Implementing Innovative Drip Irrigation System

Irrigation makes fruit tree projects sustainable
Irrigation makes fruit tree projects sustainable

Communities of the High Atlas Foundation rank irrigation initiatives among their top development priorities. Thanks to your support and OES partnership, we are now executing drip irrigation systems in 4 tree nurseries!

Why is irrigation a priority?

Due to population growth and climate change, the already vulnerable rural areas of Morocco are facing increasing challenges to economic survival. We can combat these challenges by providing a reliable water source to support the growth of fruit tree agriculture, which is more profitable than the traditional staple crops, corn and barley. 

What is drip irrigation?

The drip irrigation system is an innovative irrigation method that ensures water access while simultaneously encouraging water conservation. Drip irrigation runs hoses with drip nozzles through the nurseries and fields, delivering water directly to the plants’ root zones. A 2012 Al-Akhwayn University study on water management and conservation in rural Morocco found this system to be the most effective, because the direct water delivery minimizes evaporation and run-off.

Who benefits?

The entire community benefits from the influx of income provided by fruit tree agriculture. Women in particular are large stakeholders in this irrigation project. 3 of the 4 benefitting tree nurseries are women’s nurseries (1 in Ouaouizerth and 2 in Toubkal). Having been built on land donated in the name of women’s groups, the sale of the trees and plants in the nursery benefit women directly.

Help us expand our drip irrigation project!

We are so grateful for all of our Global Giving donors who help jumpstart these sustainable projects. Drip irrigation supplies for one nursery (including tubing, pumps, etc.) costs  roughly $1,500. With the collaborative effort of the local communities, supporting partners such as OES, and your contributions, we can provide another community with this innovative irrigation system!

Sep 18, 2013

Looking Back and Celebrating

Community Planting Meeting
Community Planting Meeting

At HAF we have had a very busy and successful few months. We are currently developing new projects and applying for funding to continue our work on sustainable community development in Morocco. However, it is useful to reflect on our achievements when considering the way forward…

HAF has had diverse and sustainable achievements since it began operations in Morocco in 2003. Since then, we have planted nearly 700,000 planted (about 18 times the number of trees in New York City’s Central Park), impacting about 5,000 marginalized rural families.  These projects not only tell the story of how Morocco can most cost effectively produce the billions of trees and plants it needs (according to its own projection, to break subsistence agriculture), but indeed overcome the existential challenges that also other nations of the region and world face – pervasive rural poverty, gender and youth marginalization, and land degradation.

Other HAF projects include: building 15 clean drinking water systems in villages that are among the most remote (halving infant mortality in a population of 4,000 people); establishing five women’s and girl’s cooperatives, including agricultural terraces and the installation of pressure-drip irrigation systems (providing 180 families social service and employment opportunities); building 3 schools and teachers’ housing and school bathrooms; and training in facilitating participatory planning about 250 people--university students, civil society members, and communal council members, and 1,400 agriculturalists in arboriculture and organic farming.

HAF Sami's project

Specifically in the past six months, we planted 235,000 fruit trees with Moroccan communities, a record for the High Atlas Foundation in one planting season. This has very significant economic and environmental impacts for the communities in which we’ve planted.  100,000 walnut seeds and 15,000 almonds were planted in a community nursery in the rural commune of Toubkal in Taroudant Province in the High Atlas Mountains, where HAF works with local farmers to certify organic their products and connect them with purchasers.  HAF and communities also planted 50,000 fruit saplings in a nursery at the historic cultural site of Akraich in Al Haouz Province, on land lent by the Moroccan Jewish Community of Marrakech, to benefit twelve neighboring villages in the region where HAF is also implementing the organic certification and commercialization initiative.

In the arid Rhamna province, 12,000 olive trees irrigated with pressure-drip systems and 70,000 cactus were planted. We are working with a women’s association to establish a cactus oil factory – also planned to be organic certified.  We’ve planted and distributed an additional 4,000 trees with rural children at 25 primary schools, with some to take home and plant in their family orchards, incorporating also environmental lessons to build their role as stewards of the earth.

field training for students CSOs officials in morocco

With regards to organic certification, HAF has interviewed and worked with 820 family farmers to inspect their land, teaching organic farming techniques and business planning with these stakeholders, in order to secure certification of their walnut and almond product.

We trained 133 people this year in facilitating participatory development, including university students, women elected to local municipal councils and civil society members.  (Tens of thousands of facilitators are needed in Morocco for transformative social change, and training by way of learning-by-doing can lead to community projects and the federation of civil associations to achieve broader goals.)  HAF also formalized the creation of two federations of civil associations in Mohammedia Province, in order for them to advocate and achieve larger-scale projects including municipal community centers.  These are among the first such federations in this area, and serve as a model for democratic community development.

HAF rehabilitating cemeteries in Essaouira

HAF conducted the preservation, cleaning, and planting inside the cemeteries of the 3 faiths in the coastal city of Essaouira (through community activities and the hiring of experts and some manual support), and engaged more than 400 local youth in workshops, lessons and visits around Morocco’s historical intercultural cohabitation which epitomizes the natural integration of unity and diversity.

In the southern province of Boujdour, HAF created a local association and completed a participatory training and assessment. We are currently completing project proposals on clean drinking water and education, and assessing the viability of the “miracle” Moringa tree in the region.

All of these accomplishments are integrated and codependent for development.  For example, a fruit tree’s yield cannot be certified organic without building local capacities through training; sustainable community projects cannot be identified and developed without the assistance of capable participatory facilitators of community dialogue; and individuals and small associations can’t impact the market without federating to increase purchasing power.

None of this would be possible without your support, and we hope that in reading this message you are further encouraged to remain a partner to help sustain this growth, and the impact it has on hundreds and thousands of lives. 

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