Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco

by High Atlas Foundation
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco
Clean Drinking Water for 1250 Villagers in Morocco

The French NGO Le Partenariat has been engaging in activities surrounding water access, management, and sanitation in the Marrakech-Safi region of Morocco for the past nine years. Recently, they held a conference on their PAEMS 2020-2021 project among rural schools. 

The project provides access to water and sanitation in elementary schools and raises awareness among students and trains teachers on themes of hygiene, water, and the environment. In partnership with French water agencies, INDH, the Regional Academy of Education, ONEE, Morocco’s Ministry of Education and local associations, they have put in place a steering committee for planning and coordination of these activities at the local community level, impacting 7,249 students at 54 schools in 24 communities to improve health conditions. 

Representatives from different sectors—Water & Forests, Wilaya, Regional Academy of Education, Basin, Tensift Regional Investment Center, local association and commune president in Marrakech-Safi— discussed the importance of water access in schools to fight against dropout rates. An alarming study from the representative from the hydraulic basin shows the decreasing water sources in Morocco, especially in Marrakech, where its dam covers only 30% of its needs. 

By installing counters in each school to monitor overall water use and consumption per student, the data will help in management and decision making. In addition, schools have created environmental clubs and trained teachers and students in water management and environmental conservation.

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« If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. »  Nelson

In regard to Mandela’s sentiment, the EU Family Literacy team in Beni Mellal-Khenifra didn't hesitate to ask Rachida to conduct an IMAGINE workshop in Tinfidin village, Azilal province, for a group of local women whose mother tongue is Tamazight.

The bad weather, the difficult road, and the harsh conditions made the EU team afraid that women would not attend. But, despite all the obstacles, 15 women benefited from the workshop's activities. They showed their higher motivation to change their situations. They are sure that the “journey of one hundred miles starts with a step,” and their journey starts with literacy classes.

IMAGINE in Tinfidin was full of tears and joy. Women found the activities funny and motivating. In particular, the meditation and the painting phases were well received because they had never seen or heard about that. But, when it came to expressing problems and fears, some women answered with tears.

People in Tinfidin village are really suffering. There is a huge lack of access to clean drinking water; it is more than 20 kilometers from the village by donkey for the women to retrieve it, and it is eventually going to end, too. For the water they use in their daily housework, they get it once every three or four months. Because of that problem, no one in the village has a toilet or a bathroom. Women were clearly begging the team for help.

The women of Tinfidin village were so happy because of our visit because no one had come before and asked them about their problems or tried to help them to change their situation. That's why they attended all the workshop's sessions, and they are ready to start the literacy classes.

This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the High Atlas Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

 

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On February 14th and 15th, HAF Program Manager Azzabi met the local authorities of El Bekht and Zaouia Cheikh (Beni Mellal province) in order to discuss how the water project of Douar Ghirane can be extended.

Indeed in 2014, HAF in partnership with the rural commune of El Bekht, the Association Al Maslaha, and the Moroccan community of the United States built a water tower and dug a well of 104 meters in depth in order to provide drinking water to the local population (20 houses) of Douar Ghirane.

The meeting was held with the Pacha of Zaouia Cheikh, the president of El Bekht commune, the president and representatives of Al Khair Association from Douar Ghirane, and members of local cooperatives.

The first observation was that 52 houses of the village have no access to drinking water and due to the harsh drought that Morocco has been facing for a number of years, the water flow of the well is decreasing and becoming insufficient for the village. The local community proposed to dig another well using traditional and modern methods of water exploration including using solar pumps and at the same time regulating the use of water.

After the meeting we did a visit to the water project.

The drought has severely impacted the underground water table and many villages near Zaouia Cheikh are suffering economically because most of the population is working on agriculture.

After the visit, we concluded that the local association will create a budget estimate of the costs to have an idea about how to start implementing the project.

In order to support the local farmers, HAF distributed 4,400 trees this year in El Bekht and Zaouia Cheikh communes. In addition, HAF is starting to implement the IMAGINE workshop and literacy programs with local women associations and cooperatives.

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Clean drinking water. This fundamental resource in allowing a civilization’s continued function, health, and prosperity is often taken for granted. That isn’t to say that its importance is neglected, but instead that the threats of its inaccessibility and the effects of unclean drinking water can often go unacknowledged. The U.N. considers universal access to clean water to be a basic human right (Koshland) and central to human survival. The words “dirty” and “unclean” can be misleading in the seriousness of impure water—unclean sources of drinking water can be dangerous and or deadly. Countries who are more technologically developed often possess advanced sewage and water purification systems, meaning that even in the poorest parts of countries such as the U.S. or Britain, water safety is not typically considered to be the most daunting of civil issues.

However, the WHO “estimates that every year more than 3.4 million people die as a result of water-related disease, making it the leading cause of disease and death around the world” (VOANEWS). It cannot be overly expressed that sanitation is fundamentally important to a functioning society. Waste disposal and failures in waste disposal systems are important elements in human history. Sanitization within medicine, general hygiene, plumbing—all of these parts of everyday living can seem as if they are a product of simple, settled science, when in actuality, the human race has been perfecting the technology and techniques to maximize cleanliness for centuries.

Water holds a special place in the tapestry of human history, shaping the way our culture and societies have developed. Water is often said to be the lifeblood of the Planet Earth, as all life on it comes from water and uses the precious, planet-defining resource in its own way to survive. This rings true for every organism on planet Earth— fish and bird, ant and elephant, human and beast. The International Water Association defines our relationship with water well: “Our existence is dependent on water, or the lack of it, in many ways, and one could say that our whole civilization is built on the use of water (IWA).”

Water played a major role in the human transition from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle to that of a sedentary, agricultural people. Access to fresh water was of absolute import in much of the history of the world, whether in the form of water used for agriculture, port access for trade, or simple health necessities. Water has always been a precious resource, with many of the great civilizations known to history coming from clear access to water. From the ancient peoples of the Fertile Crescent, to the Seine that defines the French Experience, to the tribes of the great Amazon river—the pre-eminent artery to the pre-Columbian, Mesoamerican empire—proximity to water has often been the prerequisite to great achievement within the realm of human progress. Despite its greater relevance within the ancient world, the crisis of lack of access to water can still be found in the contemporary world.

The crisis of unclean drinking water continues today, especially in marginalized, poorer people among the international community. While the figure for deaths related to waterborne illnesses is a mere 3.4 million, according to Water.org, 771 million people1 in 10 residents of the planet Earth—lack access to safe water. 1.7 billion people—somewhere around a quarter of the world’s population—lack access to a toilet (Water.org). These are issues that cannot be ignored. According to Bloomberg, many of the countries who are in states of high water stress can be found concentrated within a few places, a few countries on the southern tips of both Africa and South America (Bloomberg). However, the greatest concentration of this crisis, unsurprisingly, can be found in some of the most arid environments in the world, with a concentration of water-poor countries found throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa, the part of the world that houses the chief efforts of the High-Atlas Foundation, Morocco.

If you were to look through history and identify the traits common to all great superpowers of any age or geographic location, you would find access to water and plumbing to be central to the foundation of these states. Ensuring the health of all throughout a commonwealth allows for the furthering of other elements of their nation—whether that be the economy, the arts, or technological progress. It is for this reason that clean water becomes an essential resource. Working towards creating equal access to all should be important.

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The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more popularly known as COP26, began on November 3rd and was a collaborative conference among 197 nations to address progress made in the first five years of the 2015 Paris Agreement. In this agreement, participating countries committed to efforts in attempts to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 above pre-industrial levels.

Many climate change experts cite COP26 as the last chance to influence the future of our planet and to enact significant changes with the potential to mitigate climate change. Although some religious leaders believe faith groups have no influence in climate change discussions, many share the idea that religious leaders can contribute a powerful voice to the future of our environment through their participation in climate change discussions and policies.

Prior to COP26, Pope Francis invited 40 religious leaders to the Vatican to engage in discussions regarding the urgency of climate change and the role of faith traditions in this environmental and humanitarian emergency; faith groups represented in these discussions included those of Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and both Sunni and Shia Islam, according to Al Jazeera News. At this meeting, Pope Francis gave the stage to these various religious leaders, opening the floor for discussion to Sheikh Ahmed, a young Muslim leader who encouraged Muslims to answer the call of faith in response to climate change.

Additionally, Patriarch Hilarion, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, proposed that “the current ecological situation has been caused, among other factors, by the desire of some to profit at the expense of others” (Al Jazeera News, 2021). As a result, it is the responsibility of everyone that has contributed to this crisis to work towards mitigating its effects.

Moreover, at COP26, individuals from all faith groups assembled online and at George Square, Glasgow - where the conference was being held - to pray for the success of the conference and cooperation among the nations in efforts to slow climate change. Additionally, the Glasgow Multifaith Declaration for COP26 was presented at the conference, followed by prayers from various religious leaders. The declaration pledge commitment to the following endeavors regarding faith and climate change:

  • “Reflection through prayer, mediation, and worship to discern how to care for the earth and each other.
  • Making transformational change in our own lives and the lives of our communities through individual and collective action.
  • Being advocates for justice by calling on governments, businesses, and to others who exercise power and influence to put into effect the Paris Agreement to make the transition to a green economy and to commute to science-based target that are aligned with healthy, resilient, zero-emissions future” (Glasgow Multi-Faith Declaration for COP26, 2021).

This declaration was signed by dozens of religious leaders in the UK and Scotland of a myriad of different faiths. The hope from this declaration is to inspire people to band together in efforts to safeguard life and the planet in which we live on. Religious leaders hope that through effort taken towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, they will be able to catch the attention of religious leaders who often term the involvement of faith groups in environmental advocacy as “faith-washing.”

According to Martin Palmer, leader of FaithInvest, “faith washing” is where faith groups engaging in moral issues are ignored by politicians who accuse the religious group of being rooted in fantasy rather than the reality of business. Palmer calls for people of faith across the world to continue to motivate politicians to act, (Religion Media Centre, 2021). The investment of religious groups in climate change is not simple about influencing the global political agenda, but rather protecting and caring for the poor and vulnerable who are most impacted by the negative effects of climate change, yet they produce the least in emissions.

All-in-all, the role of religious leaders in the fight against climate change is monumental in pressuring governments across the globe to remain committed to zero-emissions. Not only is religion central to the lives of millions across the world, but cooperation among various branches of faith displays a united front across groups that are so often portrayed in conflict with each other. As the global climate crisis only worsens, it is essential for religious leaders and groups to share their voice and influence in the decisions being made. As evident from the discussion as COP26, interfaith cooperation is essential to uniting people across the world in the fight against climate change.

If you want to join religious leaders in supporting the Multi-Faith Declaration for COP26, follow the link below to sign the petition fighting against climate change.

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Organization Information

High Atlas Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AtlasHigh
Project Leader:
Yossef Ben-Meir
President of the High Atlas Foundation
NYC, NY (US) and Marrakech, Al Haouz (Maroc), Morocco
$41,528 raised of $50,000 goal
 
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$8,472 to go
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