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 12, 2014

Nursery in Akraich

Volunteers at the nursery
Volunteers at the nursery

Due to the success of the community tree nursery on arable land lent by the Jewish Community of Marrakech, located near the village of Akraich in the Al Haouz province, the Moroccan Jewish community has lent an additional four parcels of land for nurseries.  Three of the added parcels are in the Al Haouz province, and the fourth is located in the Azilal province.  The High Atlas Foundation is also developing a partnership with the Moroccan Jewish Community of Casablanca in order to build a community tree nursery on their land located in the region of Ourzazate.

Larbi Didouqen, the co-Vice President of High Atlas Foundation aids in the management of one of these nurseries in Akraich. Recently, trees have been planted in the primary school, specifically eucalyptus, fig, and pomegranate trees. These fruit and medicinal trees not only combat deforestation and desertification, aiding in environmental sustainability, but they also provide added sources of income for the rural community in Akraich.

Because of this especially hot & dry summer, a local development association offered to assist in irrigation for this nursery. Generally, the well is sufficient throughout the year, but this sunny and hot summer proved the need for assistance. A special thanks goes to this association, for without their help with irrigation and materials, the nursery would have suffered.

These projects alleviate rural poverty by providing fruit trees that grow organically, while also building productive partnerships among Morocco's ethnic and religious groups.

Irrigation of nursery
Irrigation of nursery
Nursery in Akraich
Nursery in Akraich
Aug 29, 2014

Summer updates and school curriculum

Children in schoolyard
Children in schoolyard

Although it has been a hot summer, that has not prevented communities from maintaining the health and ensuring the growth of their trees! Here are some project updates from the various school benefitting from Sami’s Project.

The headmaster of Talat n Yaacoub school ensures the well-being of the trees. The school has a generous amount of property upon which they plan to create an environmental club that includes all types of trees that suit the area. This school is provided with enough water from its well, conveniently located on the school property. Currently, the school is seeking help from their commune to install a drip system to water their trees.

The Loualja school has greatly benefited from the tree-planting activity and initiatives of the High Atlas Foundation. In addition, the school has developed and formalized a partnership with the local youth association. This association consists of school alumni who are committed to implementing further project activities and taking care of the facility.

At the Imgdal School, the trees are flourishing as the students water them during vacation. The teachers encourage the students to take care of trees at the Lberj School. Some of the kids said that ‘’owning and watering a tree is a privilege for me from this school’. At this school, all the trees in this school are irrigated via connection to the drip system, which uses tap water.

The teachers and the students chose, as a result of a consensus vote, a student from grade 6 to water the trees during vacation. He was chosen because he had a pervious experience: his own family has a similar drip-system of irrigation in their yard. In addition, many other students assisted him in the process of maintaining these trees.

In July, HAF staff and local teachers discussed some of the major challenges teachers face in rural areas. Particular grievances were related to curriculum. Currently, High Atlas Foundation is working on creating a standard curriculum, to benefit these rural areas.

Trees in Sami
Trees in Sami's project schoolyards
Aug 26, 2014

CSO leaders and activists are taking action!

This past quarter, the HAF team invested significant effort and resources to train and provide guidance to 188 CSO activists and University students to design, plan and implement programs and activities that promote civic engagement among youth and women.

Three particular topical areas were targeted:

1- Assisting CSO leaders and activists to initiate income-generating projects aiming at improving the socio-economic status of youth and women and in the process impact their levels of civic participation. Among the beneficiaries were women and youth who are less educated, unemployed, and from rural communes, who are least civically engaged and whose voices are underrepresented in public debates and decisions.

2- Improving access to local CSOs to encourage youth and women to join and be civically engaged - through good governance, better communication and transparency within CSO structures.

3- Improving civic and political knowledge of targeted citizens.

The results showed that CSO leaders and activists are taking the lead in planning and implementing programs targeting new community groups. CSOs from five communities of Mohammedia were able to secure funding and technical assistance to implement projects included in their community development action plans.

  • In the commune of Beni Yekhlef, 40 CSOs activists contributed to the planning and implementation of the spring festival. The weeklong festival included capacity building sessions, art, music, environmental education and awareness activities, community cleanup and tree planting.
  • In the commune of Ain Harrouda a CSO was able to secure funding to start a women’s cooperative for house cleaning services. The cooperative currently employs 15 women and two men.
  • Three CSOs from the same commune were able to secure funding to install a sewage system in two neighborhoods. The construction work is underway and will benefit 120 families in the near future.
  • The coalition of CSOs in Mohammedia was able to secure funding to organize and recruit youth for the summer youth camps program, which targeted 2500 youth from marginalized communities.
  • To celebrate Earth Day, two environmental education and awareness campaigns were implemented by CSO activists. The programs involved 180 students of local elementary schools who were able to plant 90 trees within the compound of their schools.
  • In the commune of Ain Harrouda, 15 activists from local CSOs organized workshops for 350 high school students on role and responsibilities of Moroccan citizens, with the aim to prepare young people for their roles as active citizens in society. The young students were able to voice their opinions about several social issues.

In this quarter, 156 activists, students and community leaders took several initiatives to influence local decision makers on a number of social issues.

  • 48 CSOs have been actively involved in advocacy efforts to influence the decisions of policy makers in the areas of urban planning, improving conditions for workers in the informal sector, improving public health and services provided by the local hospitals, integrated services and care for children with Down syndrome.
  • 30 CSOs activists in the commune of Ain Harrouda have joined efforts to work on the issue of corporate social responsibility and changing the behavior of business and local Government. They want these actors to work together and take responsibility in making the environment conducive for corporate social responsibility. The activists organized a conference attended by 96 participants representing different sectors and contributed to developing a petition on the subject with 2000 signatures.
  • Activists and community leaders from 48 CSOs participated to a conference organized by HAF, during which, participants from the public, private and non-profit sectors had a great opportunity to share and discuss innovative models and partnerships that promote mutual benefits. As a result, 11 CSO-government partnerships were created to address key identified social and economic challenges, including lack of vocational training for women and girls, sanitation and youth development.
  • 12 CSOs from the communes of Mohammedia, Ain Harrouda and Beni Yekhlef have joined efforts to develop a strategy to advocate for improved policy and governance, investment promotion and marketing and networking to improve flows of information to enhance opportunities in the city of Mohammedia. Activists from these CSOs held meetings with private investors and government representatives to review challenges and opportunities to improving the local business environment. As a result, the CSOs representatives were invited to join a provincial committee to research new mechanisms to increase CSOs involvement in the provision and maintenance of infrastructure and ways it could boost local economies, particularly the initiative for targeting the poor.
  • As the communal elections are officially announced for the summer of 2015, elected officials and CSO activists from the communes of Mohammedia, Ain Harrouda and Beni Yekhlef held a series of consultancy meetings with citizens. The meetings process was a real opportunity for 275 citizens to voice their concerns and opinion and engage in different debates on topics related to governance and transparency.
  • Activists from 13 CSOs representing citizens with disabilities reviewed a newly issued policy by the government related to protecting the rights of people with disabilities, and decided to join the national coalition for the advancement of the rights of persons with disabilities (135 CSOs) in their efforts to bloc this policy at the parliament, including participating in a peaceful demonstration by the parliament building.

The program’s results show many concrete examples demonstrating the commitment and the improvement in civic participation of the trained community members. New CSOs are progressively created and community members are more and more engaged in associations, in the past quarter 73 new members have joined existing organizations and six new CSOs involving 70 citizens were created.

These examples show the program’s positive impact and encourage High Atlas Foundation with support from its partners and donors to continue and multiply efforts in training, assisting and supporting community members in Mohammedia.

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