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

This project seeks to build water access points and basins and install equipment in the rural commune of Jrifia, and to revive the ancient wells which distinguish the local region. The proposed budget would enable the construction of six wells for the benefit of 7,800 households in Albadia nomadic communities and 3,500 fishermen in two rural fishing villages in the Province of Boujdour. 

According to the local population, one-third of the local people’s income can be spent on water. As their main economic activity is animal husbandry and fishing, the communities do not have the funds to construct the necessary infrastructure. The local people see this water project as their first priority, identified during participatory planning processes. Access to drinking water reduces rates of infant mortality and illness and increases school attendance of children, particularly girls, as well as people’s energy levels. Furthermore, this project aims to build the capacity of the local people through the enhancement of skills and knowledge in utilizing, managing, and conserving water sources and protecting the environment. This project will implement health and hygiene awareness workshops to enhance the health status of the communities living in marginalized isolated fishing and nomadic rural villages. 

This project will also build a canal to enable animals to drink and thus benefit the larger community. The targeted beneficiaries are approximately 600 cattle breeders in the province in Boujdour and neighboring provinces who come to the area in search of pastures. This project will also impact 18,000 camels and 110,000 goats and sheep as well as tourists and nomadic families.   

This project also includes the construction of a water tower in the Amziouat community members who face a lack of water. Providing access to clean drinking water by way of a water tower would go a long way in supporting an influx of tourism to the area as well as improving current community members’ quality of life. Also, inadequate sanitary facilities in Amziouat lead to a considerable amount of pollution of the beaches as well as the ocean itself. The economic impact is considerable as there is a decline in tourism and a decrease in traditional fishing practices as a result. HAF plans to address these challenges through a project that aims to protect the environment and prevent pollution by building sanitary facilities for women and men. It will benefit sailors, schools (students and teachers), visitors, tourists, and seaweed collectors. 

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On day two of our visit to Tiznit, the first stop was a school in a rural community that desired funding to improve its water infrastructure. The school has been working on improving the conditions of the school, with having new buildings and creating an agricultural presence on its school grounds. During the visit, I was able to witness a proposition that HAF has to consider whether it meets the conditions to receive funding. 

We learned that with the partnership with HAF, the school had planted trees and is currently tending to them. The existing water infrastructure at the school is a well. However, the well is not operated through a solar panel water pump, so money is needed to be invested into the well after it is in place. There is a local spring, which the school has access to every ten days. They have traditional Amazigh water infrastructure in place that allows them to direct the water to the plants.

Since there is no infrastructure in place for them to store the water they utilize flood irrigation to water the plants. The school was asking for HAF to invest in their school's agriculture and water infrastructure, which would be a plan that would total around 30,000 USD. This puts HAF into a position in which it should allocate money for the school to improve its water infrastructure. 

During the tour around the school, we were informed about the current conditions of the water infrastructure and the desires the school admin had for the future of the program.

During the presentation, I was wondering where the profits from the fruit product are placed. Whether all of the funding is reinvested into the school, where it can be directed to the school. Which could potentially allow the school to stop having to charge the students for their transportation to school. Despite the profits only being directed to the school, schools are a key aspect of communities and development. Schools possessing monetary streams aid communities as a whole.

Education allows for young community members to increase their skill set, which opens up opportunities for them and the community as a whole. This made me believe that it would be a nice allocation of resources for HAF. 

Visiting this school illustrated to me the difficult choices that HAF has to make when they are deciding where to place funding and the numerous conditions they have to consider. An important aspect that was pointed out that had to be determined for a decision for funding to be made was whether the members of the community wanted the investment in agriculture, or if it was solely the school’s administration who wanted the new water infrastructure.

The children can not be responsible for tending to the trees, so this requires community members to participate in the care of the trees. If the members of the community do not have an interest or an incentive to maintain the trees, then HAF providing water infrastructure to be able to care for more trees would be an illogical allocation of their resources.

Also knowing whether the community would be interested in the improvement of the water infrastructure at the school would have to be taken into account when making the decision. The community is not only needed because they would be a necessary aspect for maintaining the trees, but also the community is also a part of the rotation for access to the spring water.

If the school creates the infrastructure to store spring water, they will utilize more of the spring water during the days they have access to it. This could lead to the spring water supply decreasing, as more of the water is removed from the supply. These factors are necessary to consider when deciding whether HAF should invest in improving the water infrastructure of the school. This illustrates the difficult decisions that are necessary for development foundations to make. It would be difficult for me to deny people access to a constant supply of water, but when resources are scarce foundations must make difficult decisions that would lead to the most benefit.

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The village had no water. On the day I traveled to Rhamna to talk to the President of the Ait Taleb rural municipality about our proposal for solar-paneled wells, there was no water. Their current well dropped 50 meters into the Earth, each meter carved out of the rock by hand. When the well was first built, all they needed was 10 meters to be able to provide water for the village. Now, even 50 meters deep there is only the tiniest of puddles all the way at the bottom, a small shimmering reflection at the bottom of a dark drop. 

We talked to the President as we walked down the long dusty road that led to the well, experiencing only a small portion of the walk women from many villages have to endure often twice a day to provide water for their families. He told us that sometimes after walking up to 20km to reach the well, the women find that the well has already dried. They either have to walk even further to seek a different well or go home without water. It is always the mothers and daughters who make these treks across the sandy stretches. The High Atlas Foundation is working on a proposal that would drill boreholes equipped with solar pumps and build water towers in the thirteen villages of Rhamna and Youssoufia. In talking to the President, I learned just how much this would affect the lives of each of the 2,135 citizens of those villages, especially the women and girls. 

The building of the new pumps would facilitate the building of new bathrooms for the elementary and middle schools, as villages cannot build bathrooms if they do not have the water needed to run those bathrooms. In turn, the building of those bathrooms would greatly increase the enrollment of girls in these schools due to the fact that one of the main inhibitors of female enrollment in rural Morocco is the lack of privacy. Parents will not allow their girls to go to school if they do not have the privacy afforded by an actual bathroom facility. In addition, it improves the education condition of girls already enrolled in school. They would no longer either have to hold off on using the restroom until the end of the school day or make the often long walk home. Instead, they would be able to excuse themselves briefly from class and come quickly back.

I have always been aware of my privilege in a theoretical sense, but being in Morocco has brought that theory into practice. I have the ability to take long showers or baths and not worry about where that water goes when I am finished. Whenever I am thirsty, I go to the nearest water cooler or sink and drink as much as I desire. I can be confident that almost everywhere I go there will be a working bathroom with a flushable toilet and sinks to wash my hands. Most shockingly, I have spent my life having the luxury of doing water sports. I was a competitive swimmer for sixteen years before transitioning to water polo. Both require a pool, and those pools likely have more water than many of these villages will have access to in a year or more. Why do I get to have all of this, while so many people often have to go days without any water? 

The High Atlas Foundation, and Morocco as a whole, helped me to break out of my bubble. It took problems that I previously had only discussed in classes and made them real. For this I am eternally grateful. I am working on a Drinking Water Supply Project in Rhamna and Youssoufia Provinces for HAF, and I pray that all of the work I put into that proposal will result in the building of thirteen new water structures. However, I am saddened that a request for something this crucial to human life has the possibility of being denied. How can anyone with the means to help look at an entire village with no water and decide that the project is not compelling enough? Further, why is a proposal needed? Why does one have to appeal or even plead for money to provide humans with a resource that is necessary to live? In the world I come from, water is free. Water is a right. Here, it should be but is not.

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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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Organization Information

High Atlas Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
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
$49,281 raised of $100,000 goal
801 donations
$50,719 to go
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