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

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, 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 ( 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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Recently, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, was held in Glasgow, outlining the impending need for international climate policy and action. Climate change will raise temperature extremes globally, but even more so in the Middle East, which will already be 4 degrees Celsius hotter by 2050. Not only must the Middle East deal with the effects of climate change, but it must address its ongoing geopolitical conflicts, exacerbated by climate change.

Two weeks ago, in a webinar with EcoPeace and thinktank, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, entitled “A Climate of Peace,” academics and policymakers from Israel, Palestine, and Jordan provided perspectives on how climate policy can unite the Middle East. Yana Abu Taleb, the Jordanian Director of EcoPeace and webinar moderator, asserts first that climate diplomacy shapes relationships between countries and nations. However, she notes that we need customized climate solutions on the regional level, not national or international. With this, the Middle East needs a cooperative, regional solution to address climate change, which would offer an opportunity to solve its geopolitical challenges.

Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli Director of EcoPeace, argues EcoPeace’s Green Blue Deal provides such a cooperative solution, uniting the Middle East with climate policy. The region’s water scarcity problem, the highest in the world, underlies many of its geopolitical conflicts and unaddressed climate change only worsens the infrequent rainfall. As Bromberg notes, however, climate change could be a multiplier of further conflict or act as a multiplier for cooperation.

The Green Blue Deal reflects the natural borders of the region, rather than the artificial, political borders. Through highlighting the region’s watersheds, the deal illustrates the natural interconnectedness of the Middle East. With its four pillars, the deal aims to address the underlying environmental problems of political conflict in the region.

In its first pillar, the Green Blue Deal aims to harness the solar and desalinated water energy of the region, thereby creating healthy interdependencies. Through energy sales, the Middle Eastern region can cooperate to produce and utilize renewable energy. The second pillar, as Bromberg outlines, builds on the movement of water, aiming to supply water down River Jordan and rehabilitate the river with fast flowing water, which is critical to biodiversity protection.

In the third pillar, the deal supports a two-state solution in which the region moves forward on water issues threatened by climate change. Bromberg emphasizes the need to move away from an all or nothing paradigm, which only holds the resolution of water issues hostage. The final pillar highlights the importance of educating Jordanian, Israeli, and Palestinian youth on water scarcity issues and the importance of regional cooperation. Through these pillars, the EcoPeace calls on regional and international leadership to work on climate efforts and support the Green Blue Deal. Climate resilience is not a goal, but rather a necessity.

Dr. Attili, the former Palestinian Minister of Water and expert in water issues, supports the deal, emphasizing the need to take action immediately. He asserts we can gather people through the environment, but if cooperation does not exist, consequences will occur, such as food and water insecurity. Similar to Bromberg, Dr. Attili emphasizes that the current mindset must change, as we must work together to discuss clear and cooperative resolutions to environmental issues.

Alon Tal, a professor and politician, provides the Israeli perspective on supporting the Green Blue Deal, which he acknowledges as necessary to creating unity within the region. Along with Dr. Attili, Tal agrees there must be a proactive initiative to support water resolutions, and he believes Israel is already working towards such a goal. Without cooperation, he argues, the region cannot increase water security or adequately address climate change.

A clear theme presents itself in this webinar: cooperation. Through active cooperation in the Middle East and adopting the Green Blue Deal, the region can address water scarcity and climate change, thereby building unity and resilience.

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The global water crisis is caused by a scarcity of clean water available to people all around the world. Only 3% of the Earth’s water is freshwater, and much of that is frozen in glaciers and icebergs. Globally, one in nine people lack access to potable water. This crisis will worsen as climate change intensifies droughts and population increases further stress the water supply. Clean, potable water is essential to the development of Morocco and other countries because water scarcity exacerbates economic inequalities, hinders female empowerment, endangers the health of citizens, and decreases agricultural productivity.

Morocco has a sparse water supply due to infrequent precipitation and overused groundwater reserves. Climate change is predicted to exacerbate droughts in Morocco, further decreasing the water supply and straining the rain-fed agriculture that employs much of the Moroccan population. Rainfall in Morocco is expected to decrease by half in 2050. However, water demand in Moroccan urban areas is supposed to increase in coming years by as much as 60 to 100%.

Water insecurity disproportionately impacts the rural people. They lack the resources to purchase potable drinking water, pay for irrigation systems, or dig private wells to access consumable water. In Morocco, water is more accessible in urban areas than it is in rural communities which exacerbates the inequalities between those regions. This disparity is due to a lack of significant water transport infrastructure to the remote regions of Morocco. In 2004, 99% of urban Moroccans had access to potable drinking water while only 56% of rural Moroccans did. Today, 87% of rural Moroccans have access to a source of drinking water. Many rural villages are supplied by water tankers that overcharge for their water and further strain the impoverished rural population.  Some villages use reservoirs to catch rainwater, but then they consume the water without treatment.

Female empowerment in Morocco is undermined by water scarcity. On average women in Morocco spend3.5 hours a day searching for and carrying water to their homes to boil and consume. Water collection falls unduly onto the shoulders of women due to societal expectations of domesticity that are pervasive in Moroccan society. The time devoted to water collection can be a barrier to Moroccan women entering the workforce and pursuing higher education, both of which increase economic productivity and growth and reduce child and maternal mortality. Additionally, on their treks to get water, women are vulnerable to physical assault, which creates unnecessary stress and insecurity.

Water insecurity can also lead to the consumption of unsafe water. Water can be contaminated in transport or if from an unreliable source. Water contamination can cause health issues like diarrheal diseases, which are a leading cause of death for children under the age of five. Additionally, the collection of water can cause health problems for pregnant women as that level of exertion can put strain on the mother and baby. Unsafe water consumption can also endanger the life of the mother and the child. The health of citizens is crucial to developing countries because burgeoning economies need an effective and efficient labor force to be globally competitive.

Moreover, water scarcity decreases crop productivity and complicates irrigation measures. Agriculture employs 40%of the Moroccan population and low crop yield can have problematic effects on farm profitability. 70% of Moroccan farmers struggle when Morocco has a drought because Moroccan agriculture is heavily dependent on rain. As droughts increase and intensify, precipitation will decrease and the productivity of those crops will decrease as well. Only 15% of the agricultural land in Morocco is irrigated. Irrigated crops have a higher yield and greater productivity; however, the water source for many communities is used for both irrigation and consumption. The balance between consumption and irrigation will become more problematic as droughts make Moroccan agriculture more irrigation-dependent.

Many groups in Morocco are attempting to mitigate the effects of the water crisis and find creative ways to source water. Dar Si Hmad is a female-founded NGO that turns fog into water. Morocco has an abundance of fog in its mountains, and Dar Si Hmad uses cloud-fishing technology to collect fog and sustainably filter it. Additionally, programs like USAID provide Moroccan farmers with specific irrigation advice and reinforce water well retaining walls in order to reduce water waste. Morocco has also constructed several desalination plants to make potable water from the abundant seawater along the Moroccan coast.

The water crisis in Morocco can significantly impact the path of its development. Water insecurity is a barrier to economic equality, female empowerment, health, and agricultural productivity. Morocco must find creative solutions to the water crisis in order to reduce the impacts of water insecurity on its path to development.

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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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