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 world is currently suffering from a major pandemic, and the most effective way to control its spread is through healthy hygienic practices -- regular hand-washing, the use of face masks, and social distancing. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has made October 15 one of the most important days of celebration this year: Global Handwashing Day.

Hand-washing saves lives, limiting or even preventing the spread of viruses such as COVID-19. It is the most accessible and affordable way to protect people from illnesses. Studies show that regular hand washing with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds reduces the transmission of outbreak-related pathogens such as cholera, Ebola, shigellosis, SARS, and hepatitis E, reduces diarrheal diseases by 30 to 48 percent, and is also a key in the fight against COVID-19.

Soap and water destroy the outer membrane of the COVID-19 virus and thereby inactivates it. This simple habit can prevent the need to pay for expensive medication or treatments, and it can save many lives. If handwashing is such a simple solution, what could stop people from washing their hands?

Many areas around the world suffer from lack of access to clean water. Often, even if they have access to drinking water sources, community members (usually women or girls) will have to walk for many hours to reach it. This hard journey makes water a precious commodity that cannot be wasted, and what makes washing hands regularly a luxurious habit that they cannot afford.

One of the High Atlas Foundation’s (HAF) main goals is to provide a better life for rural communities that are sacrificing their education, their health, and also their future just to walk many kilometers in search of clean water. HAF aims to provide these communities with drinking water through initiatives such as building wells and installing water systems that connect the water source with the houses of the villages, lifting a huge burden from the families’ shoulders.

These types of projects enable girls to go to school and women to be engaged in cooperatives instead of spending so much of their time seeking water daily. They also contribute to the health, well-being, and economic power of a family. Clean water decreases the chances of family members getting sick from drinking unhealthy water, which can affect the family’s potential income, especially if the parents are the ones who got sick.

While HAF works to provide marginalized communities with clean water, it also invites people around the world to contribute to the project in order to help more and more communities around Morocco.

Washing hands has always been important, but coronavirus has served as a reminder of just how vital this simple habit is to our daily lives. So let us save the world together and wash our hands.

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    Humankind faces the unprecedented challenge of existing on the warmest earth we have known. A lack of political will and societal awareness has inhibited the necessary, vigorous change to meet this challenge.

    North Africa is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change, experiencing severe environmental degradation. Morocco is no exception. Creeping desertification, compromised forests, diminishing water resources, damaged ecosystems, and natural disasters threaten not only Morocco’s rich biodiversity but also the livelihoods, well-being, and health of its people.

    Morocco is the energy pioneer on the African continent, one of the first to champion renewable energy (RE) and to align economic development with environmental protection and sustainability. Several large-scale projects have been initiated, but small-scale projects remain insufficient to enable a successful transition to 100 percent RE. Morocco’s promotion of decentralization acknowledges the peoples’ will to participate in decision-making and manage their own affairs, but these have not been significantly applied throughout the country.

    The mission of the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) as a facilitator is to gather experts from academia, civil society, public and private sectors, and legislators willing to move forward and bring meaningful policy reform through proactive and decisive participation. Discussions and multi-participant workshops with local and international experts have been essential to our current work in this area. We have assessed the current state of  energy sector development and decentralization and offer here a way forward.

    Morocco’s energy sector is highly carbon-intensive and heavily dependent on energy imports, affected by fluctuations in price and supply. Electricity demand has increased dramatically from population growth, economic development, and near-universal access – necessitating foreign imports to meet demand. Morocco has set ambitious targets, with institutional and legal frameworks for RE attracting national and international investment, research and innovation. It has set in place a considerable number of green energy initiatives, including two ambitious programs for solar and wind power. Knowledge and expertise within Morocco are thus among the most profound within the continent, and the attractive investment climate has lowered costs for alternative energy.

    Decentralization is an integral part of Morocco’s policy agendas, with frameworks for doing so productively, inclusively, and equitably. Some frameworks include: the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), which provides sub-nationally managed funding for local development projects; the Municipal Charter, which requires locally-elected representatives to create participatory development plans for local projects; the Decentralization Roadmap, which integrates the three pillars of devolution, deconcentration, and delegation; the Decentralization Charter, submitted by the government at the request of King Mohammed VI, ideally intended to bind national and regional government agencies to specific functions in administering human services; and the newly-ratified Constitution in 2011, which further enshrined the right of citizens’ participation in decision-making processes with decentralization, transparency, and good governance.

    Our assessment has shown that decentralization of energy transition requires the following measures:

    1. Enhance cooperation across sectors.  Economic, private, civil, scientific, and other sectors must coordinate expectations and share information for the level of transformation that no one could accomplish alone. HAF and Germanwatch e.V. launched an initiative in 2019 to create such a cross-sectoral partnership for decentralized energy transition in Morocco. Enhanced integration of administrative tiers and ministries following this model could enable the exchange of best practices.
    2. Strengthen regional agreements to cooperatively address challenges. Morocco promotes South-South cooperation and has already established economic partnerships and significantly strengthened political ties with other African countries. Many national agencies are already operating in several African countries. Morocco’s exports to these countries have quintupled over a decade, making it a hub for RE-based electricity, trade, capacity-building, and innovation. Strengthening this regional cooperation will increase investment interest and opportunities for companies seeking entry into the African market, lowering interest rates and inflation while maximizing production.
    3. Improve management of people-centered initiatives. The decentralization charter establishes clear parameters for how the national and regional levels work together but is less clear about the role of provinces and municipalities. Since regional public administrative centers remain distant from dispersed communities, clarity about their functions and responsibilities within the decentralization context will help action-planning and decision-making for all sectors and tiers.
    4. Accelerate implementation of RE projects. Integration of development agendas into energy planning and policy has been limited, and the financial support and incentives for smaller projects are less developed. Governments, policy makers, and regulators need to speed up strategies for bringing RE projects to fruition.
    5. Raise awareness about readily available financial support. A credit line specific to RE or an appropriate framework for successful financing is lacking. Information about decentralized, small-scale, and people-centered approaches and their associated benefits is necessary to help mobilize support and make funding easily accessible for local communities. Investment promotion measures are also needed to encourage public-private partnerships to share investment costs, risks, and benefits and to attract both domestic and foreign investors in climate finance.

    In conclusion, Morocco has an enormous opportunity to address the climate crisis. Large-scale implementation of renewables is indispensable to meet Morocco’s energy needs, but they should be accompanied by small-scale RE solutions to help reduce poverty. Becoming a world climate leader with a different model for energy and electricity issues requires policy and regulatory frameworks as well as new forms of cooperation and investments opportunities. Setting clear political goals is essential to secure investments, stakeholders’ mobilization, and resources allocation. A strong political will is indispensable for driving the decentralization of renewable energy.

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    The idea of development itself, its definition, and even the method we use for defining it, would be a good place to begin toward discovering its potential in our lives. We cannot rely on any single, or even ten, definitions. We need to look at the full range of literature that arose following the end of World War II, decolonization, and reconstruction from when international development spawned in our era. How has development been defined across the decades?

    One of the ways this information can be organized is by looking at the explanations--some concise, some longer--of what development is, and taking those few sentences and putting them into a file, building a database of development descriptions. This process gave me several hundreds of pages from several thousands of books or authors that can help one come to an understanding of what is development.

    The next step is to break down the definitions into their components. You have a box for development as it relates to economics. Another relates to social aspects. Still another is about the political side of the issue, and another is about geography. Other components will include change, growth, and process. When you have built a database of information and broken the concept down into its elements, you are then in the position of defining the term based on the range of its basic elements.

    You can extend this method to other aspects of your life and work, where I hope you find the most passion. Defining the terms will be essential to creating a foundation for your research, investigation, analysis, understanding, teaching, and training. In my own investigation, absorbing all possible literature on the development field that emerged from the 1950s up until 2011, at which time most of my energies transitioned from academic study to development practice in Morocco, I can share what I gathered. One result of dedicated study can be the formulation of new definitions, created by drawing from all of the “baskets” of broken down and organized parts, and then reassembled into working definitions.

    What we find with all of these words--development, empowerment, sustainability, participation--is that there are great differences and lack of consensus in their meaning, with entirely different emphases, depending on the context. There are also some other words--like progress, change, movement, mobilization, action, unpredictable, and multi-dimensional that reappear when we discuss development. Lack of predictability does not mean uncontrollable or unmanageable, but rather requiring flexibility or the ability to adapt with ever-changing circumstances.

    What do we mean when we say “multi-dimensional”? What are these dimensions? Economic, environmental, cultural, social, political, technological, financial, historical, and physical-ecological--these have all been identified as elements of development, recognizing that they touch every aspect of community life or the totality of human life. Development experiences also identify a spiritual aspect, connecting to the universal, recognizing that the impact of development is also internal and perceptional. These dimensions surround our community lives and are within the fabric of our relating to one another.

    From the early decades to today, “modernization” has been the underlying perspective for approaching development. All societies experience or need to experience this espoused linear progression from point A to point B as part of their development process. The agricultural economy needs to be productive to the point where it can feed a growing urban population, so that people in the cities can manufacture and have industry. If we are in Morocco or anywhere else, modernization’s progression--at least according to its own view--is necessary for development.

    When we talk about development that doesn’t support this model--it’s not A, B, C, D, E for everyone. What works for you might not work for us and might actually hurt us, take away our autonomy, and won’t let us build our economy based on our choices and capacity and agricultural opportunity. Not taking into consideration our geographical and environmental situations, our history, our culture, our traditions, strict modernization is often a source of our poverty. Development which tries to readdress this rigidity is labeled “alternative”, controversial, or even politically contradictory.

    Our definition of development must include growth and expansion and meeting human needs. There are, however, profound differences among different societies on how those things are achieved and what the nature, quality, and characteristics of the growth look like. This is why a single definition is so difficult to land on. It dooms us to not be fully adequate in our definition. Forms of development can be conflictual. We can’t have full industrialization in developing countries based on products that are in demand in developed countries and expect the same outcomes on all sides of the exchanges. The modernization model may create a cost borne by developing/less-industrial countries because they will only grow as a reflection of demand in the developed ones.

    From the birth of development, there has always been an alternative approach, rejecting external control that mainstream prescriptions bring and instead emphasizing internally strengthening (and diversifying) people-driven change. Today, it is the norm to advance people’s participation--in Morocco, it is the law--but that point of view did not used to be mandated and was distrusted by those in the mainstream who believed it was putting collectives of people in positions to make decisions they were not equipped to make. The outcome and what public participation would mobilize was feared and distrusted.

    Who is to benefit from development and enhanced quality of life through mobilization, action, change, and a multi-dimensional process improving upon all aspects of human life? The goal is all or the majority of people, but particularly the people who experience poverty and marginalization. We will always have to make choices because budgets are never endless. However, when making choices, we focus on people who are disenfranchised, disadvantaged, and remote--the individual and the collective. Not just in Morocco, but around the world, most poverty is concentrated in rural areas, and within these places, typically the highest rate of impoverishment is in mountainous and dry regions.

    So, what definition of development have we come to after reviewing literature, breaking down into parts, and reconfiguring these elements into something workable? It is a process that considers in its planning, economic, political, institutional, cultural, environmental and technological factors to achieve its goal of generating benefits in these areas directed at all or the majority of people, especially those who experience poverty.

    If we go through this process together, across our localities, we will be in a superb position to manage public health in a pandemic. We will be in a position to encourage calm dialogue in the face of terrible unrest and unfairness. We will understand how we may effectively govern and campaign to govern, to devise infrastructure investments for maximum community-level return and widely shared management and benefits, to guide our trade relationships emphasizing self-reliance, regional bloc markets, and global engagement, and to address the root causes of people’s dissatisfying work and interconnectivity with each other. To best face the time we’re in, there is no greater immediate and long-term urgency than the process of development requiring inclusion.

    Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir is a sociologist and President of the High Atlas Foundation, a U.S.-Moroccan non-for-profit organization dedicated to sustainable development in Morocco.

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    PRESS RELEASE               


    Amina El Hajjami
    Director of Programs, High Atlas Foundation

    +212 (0) 6 62 17 66 63


    A Partnership for Food and Clothing Solidarity in the Face of COVID-19

    MARRAKECH - The High Atlas Foundation and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy are grateful to be of service to communities in Morocco that have endured livelihood losses as a result of COVID-19. Together we are making food, hygienic, and clothing items more accessible for 600 families located in the provinces of Azilal, Boujdour, Chichaoua, and Taroudant whose livelihoods have been negatively affected as a result of the pandemic. These communities and so many others have been economically hurt because they depend on each day’s labor, which has not been available, in order to make the most basic ends meet.

    Even as we sincerely appreciate the opportunity to provide assistance to these families, we hope very much that we can carry out more acts of sharing with many more communities in Morocco.

    The High Atlas Foundation would like to also sincerely thank Soles for Souls for their kind giving, and to the LFMC Foundation for enabling us to be of food assistance in Taza.

    If you are with means and capacities to enable families to receive staple foods, please let us know. We send our gratitude to the Moroccan civil associations that have entrusted us with their requests and expressions of need.

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    When I first started the internship for the High Atlas Foundation (HAF), I also had to take a UVA class to complement the internship experience. Our first assignment, Envisioning Your Learning Chart, stated, “it is almost guaranteed that your internship will not be what you expect it to be.” There was no way I would have ever predicted my summer turning out the way it has, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Although I was and still am slightly sad that I was not able to physically go to Morocco, I am still so grateful to be able to learn as much as I can through a global, virtual internship. Even though I was hesitant about what a virtual internship would look like, I have been pleasantly surprised by how consistent we have been able to meet and talk, and I have enjoyed being able to get to know and work with my fellow interns. Working with the other interns and the HAF staff has made the virtual work feel more connected and meaningful.

    When we were talking about the benefits and challenges of virtual work, I have somewhat struggled with keeping a consistent schedule. I tend to do my internship work at a variety of times throughout the day, and I would like to have a more regular schedule during the  day. Maybe I’ll try planning out my week more. With the move to virtual work, Morgan, a fellow intern, brought up an interesting point about work-life balance in view of the fact that many people are now available on a 24/7 basis. I have also wondered how much technology will continue to be implemented in our daily lives, because it seems as if the pandemic has only cemented the integral role technology plays in people’s lives. It scares me how much society, including myself, relies on our phones, laptops, tablets etc., because I cannot imagine a world without these gadgets now. Especially with all the crazy events in the world recently, people rely on getting their news and social interactions through technology, which has its benefits. I hope the world will better learn how to use technology as a tool without it becoming a crutch we cannot live without. But, honestly, I think we have already passed that point.

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    Organization Information

    High Atlas Foundation

    Location: New York, NY - USA
    Facebook: Facebook Page
    Twitter: @haffdtn
    Project Leader:
    Yossef Ben-Meir
    President of the High Atlas Foundation
    NYC, NY (US) and Marrakech, Al Haouz (Maroc), Morocco
    $30,370 raised of $37,500 goal
    471 donations
    $7,130 to go
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