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

Stepping onto the campus of the American School in Marrakech was like being transported to a completely different world than what we had thus experienced as High Atlas Foundation interns the past three weeks. After visiting women’s cooperatives, speaking to young women who stop their education at primary school, and witnessing adult women write their name for the first time, the monetary donation received felt like so much more.

Receiving a check from these elementary students, Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, the President of the High Atlas Foundation, said, “Because of you, there will no longer be parents who have to decide whether to send their daughters to school or to fetch water.” Because of a school walk-a-thon, a major barrier to development and education will be systematically overcome in some capacity. Hearing this, I was filled with a weight, knowing that Ben-Meir’s words speak to a developmental reality and dynamic partnership at work.

The High Atlas Foundation and the American Schools of Marrakech have important common objectives of expanding the environmental education, spreading the green fields in rural schools, providing clean drinking water for schools, and developing rural school infrastructure. These nobel goals and alignment of values were evident in the conversation led by the Head of School Jean Brugniau in the ceremony at the end of the year celebration. He spoke directly to his students and parents, encouraging community participation and engagement. The picture perfect setting and positive commitment to excellence stood out to me as unique to this country and the Moroccan priorities that we have come to understand as interns and students.

What felt like a Hollywood movie school set with smiling parents, dancing young children, and a field of happy and sweaty soccer players, quickly became the backdrop to real, tangible change. I cannot even remember what my own elementary school walk-a-thon raised money for. This schools donation is a true testament of hard work, community support, and the participatory approach beginning from integral fundraising and passion.

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On Monday, the 29th of April, the HAF was invited to the "Economy and Competitiveness of the Mediterranean" forum as part of the Summit of the Two Rivers. This forum was organised by the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (EESC). The challenges concerned economic development but also competitiveness in the countries of the western Mediterranean. Many representatives of civil society from the 5+5 dialogue were present, which allowed for debate and the implementation of concrete initiatives on both sides. The initiatives are also regional, as some of them will help to develop entrepreneurship, the social economy and innovation.

Errachid Montassir (HAF project manager) presented the High Atlas Foundation's project, which is an agricultural initiative with an environmental approach and will enable women in rural areas of the to market their products and learn how to do so. The benefit will go to these women who will be able to make a living from the sale of organic fruit trees, medicinal herbs, and processed product. However, this trade will have an impact on the other side as raw and processed products at attractive prices and high quality will be sold on the European market. In addition, a sale of carbon credits may be set up between the two shores.

The main point is also to obtain organic certifications so that these women can be considered as full-fledged organic companies. During this forum, we heard many projects that were all innovative and encouraging. However, not all projects can be implemented, and only projects that appear to be concrete can be implemented. That is why the day was divided into two stages. During the morning, all the projects were briefly presented, and a debate was initiated for each theme. As for the afternoon, all the projects were divided into thematic workshops, which made us meet in small groups with projects that could more or less join our own.

Knowing that the purpose of this forum is to ideally achieve that all projects are carried out, or at least that all participants benefit from it, we tried during these workshops to find common ground between all our projects and to find innovative ideas to link them together. At the end of this workshop, we had to vote for the projects that seemed to us to be the most easily achievable and concrete. The final projects will be selected at the Summit of the two shores, which will take place on June 24 in Marseille.

With regard to the project: "A Moroccan organic farming initiative for the whole Mediterranean", it was perfectly defended during the "social economy" workshop and we believe that several projects of this session will be able to be connected to each other, including ours, which will considerably advance our project. The HAF initiative was concrete, which puts us in a good position among the projects that will be presented on June 24 at the Summit of the two shores.

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Above, Amazigh women in a village with an association that cultivates an olive tree nursery. Photo credit: Peter J. Jacques


Life and death for whole communities hang in the balance of achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that include eliminating poverty, conserving forests, and addressing climate change, passed by the United Nations unanimously in 2015. Take for example, the Indigenous Amazigh people who live in the mountains around Marrakech. They are representative of people who need to be served first by sustainable development.


The High Atlas Amazigh people experience hard lives in small villages. Most work as day laborers and agriculturalists with barely enough income to support their families and heat their homes. Education is a major concern, but is hard to attain for a number of reasons. Sometimes families cannot afford the subsequent costs of backpacks and books, even when the school is open and free. The challenge is especially difficult for girls, because, as one person explained, “How can fathers let their girls study if it is dark when they must travel?”  The effect of incomplete education is profound, and when we asked one 62-year-old man what he thought the greatest threats to the future were for his community, he did not have confidence in his own experiences, noting, “What can I say? I am not read [educated].”


Through a partnership of the University of Central Florida (Orlando), The Hollings Center for International Dialogue (Washington D.C. and Istanbul), and the High Atlas Foundation (Marrakech), we recently conducted field work in the High Atlas Mountains, speaking with the people there who poured their hearts out to us.


The most consistent message we heard from the people of the High Atlas was that the future hinges on water. One group told us that when things are good, it is because the rain is abundant and on time; things are very hard otherwise. They are worried that climate change will affect if the rains come, or that the rain will not “come in its time.” They have good reason to worry because climate change is expected to decrease precipitation significantly, reducing streams, lakes, and groundwater.


Drought is a constant worry. The World Bank estimates that 37 percent of the population works in agriculture, meanwhile production of cereal crops varies wildly due to annual variation of precipitation-- and 2018 was thankfully a bountiful year. Climate change will make the people of the High Atlas Mountains much more vulnerable while they are already living on the edge of survival. In one area, this change in precipitation timing and amount was already noticeable, resulting in a significant loss of fruit trees. In that same area, we were told that there is fear that there will be no water in twenty years, and that for these people who are deeply connected to the land, there will be “no alternatives.”


The High Atlas people are in an extremely vulnerable position. One group noted that they are so desperate for basic resources that they burn plastic trash to heat their water. Worse, they believe they have been left behind by society and that “the people of the mountains do not matter.” They feel that Moroccan society is deeply unfair—there is no help for the sick, little support for education, little defense against the cold, and that, for some, corruption is the greatest threat to a sustainable future.


Consequently, civil society has an important role in achieving the SDGs. The High Atlas Foundation has been working to help people in this region to organize themselves into collectives that decide both what the collective wants, and pathways to achieve those goals. Women have organized into co-ops that they own and they collect dividends from their products together. People in one coop lobbied the 2015 Conference of Parties climate meeting in Marrakech. Men’s associations have developed tree nurseries that not only produce income, but which protect whole watersheds – and therefore some water for the future. They are also participating in carbon sequestration markets. In this regard, the Marrakech Regional Department of Water and Forest provides them carob trees and the authorization to plant these trees on the mountains surrounding their villages.


However, perhaps the most important element of these collectives is that they give each person in them a voice. Leaders of these collectives have formal rights to approach the regional governments about their needs, and this voice would not be heard at all without the formal collective organization. These organizations cannot replace government services, but they do add capacity to the community.


Not only do these collectives lend people some influence over their current and their children’s lives, they love each other and they are not struggling alone. We witnessed profound solidarity. Repeatedly, the collectives told us “We love each other, we are one family,” “We are like one,” “We help each other,” and the conviction that “I will be with you.”The world is decidedly on an unsustainable path, so If we are going to meet SDGs, all the people like the people of the High Atlas Mountains must matter and their voice deserves to be heard.


Peter J. Jacques is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, USA.

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French Development Agency Lends €50 Million to Improve Moroccan Water Supply

The Moroccan Electricity and Drinking Water Bureau (ONEE) received €50m to implement a drinking water resilience project in Morocco’s northern provinces, including Al-Hoceima, Driouch and Taounate. The project will strengthen water production, increase storage autonomy and improve performance of supply facilities.

The project will benefit 300,000 people, and comes alongside another development grant of €20m by the French Agency to improve resilience of agriculture to climate change and combat desertification in Errachidia province.

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Waste of Citrus Fruits in Morocco Related to Overproduction

2018 saw the overproduction of over 60,000 tons of excess citrus fruits in Morocco, left to rot by the roadside, largely a result of good weather conditions. This glut flooded the market and led to a high reduction in price.

As new plantations go into production, it seems that distribution and valuation of product lags behind. The export market reached only 50% of its objective- only 650,000 tons of fruit were exported in 2017-18, despite the target being set at 1.2 million tons.

Some reasons for this deficit are a lack of operational processing facilities, the time needed to adapt production to international quality compliance and the lack of provision of financial support to small farmers.

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Morocco Urged to take Action to Promote Amazigh Language

A UN special rapporteur has urged Morocco to “adopt a comprehensive anti-racial discrimination legislative framework”, expressing concern that there is no adopted legislation to implement the constitutional recognition of Tamazight as an official language. She highlighted the lack of adequate Amazigh language facilities, certified interpreters, its integration into education and administrative institutions, and into documents such as passports.

Although she commended Moroccan constitutional provisions which prohibit discrimination, guaranteeing non-citizen rights and promote equality, the human rights approach that Morocco has adopted with regards to migration, and the assurance of the rights of Moroccan Jews, the UN report notes the marginalisation and discrimination that Amazigh communities continue to face, including limited access to infrastructure and state support.

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Funding Granted for Moroccan Wind Farm

The developers of the 850Mw land based wind farm, located in Midelt, have stated that they are ready to commence the first phase of its project, which enable Morocco to offset 400,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Morocco has a target to generate 52% of its total electricity usage from renewables.

The new facility is expected to produce enough energy to power a city the size of Agadir, home to 500,000 people.

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Combatting Violence Against Women in Mohammedia

An EU-funded programme, South III, organised a workshop last week at the Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences in Mohammedia, on the theme of Activism Against Gender-based Violence. The programme, running from 2018-2020 aims to reinforce human rights, rule of law and democracy to combat all forms of violence against women.

A range of stakeholders gathered to openly discuss mechanisms to prevent such violence, as well as how to protect victims.

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The High Atlas Foundation (HAF)--partnering with the Holling’s Center for International Dialogue (DC/Istanbul) and the Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd Program for Strategic Research at the University of Central Florida--hosted a conference from November 15th-17th for the community and government partners, other thought leaders, and the staff and volunteers of HAF.  Together, we explored the complexity and serious difficulty of rural poverty in Morocco, and closely considered how the work of the HAF and its partners can more effectively alleviate these conditions and fulfill the opportunities identified by local communities. 


The strategies we developed together in so many ways become advanced upon by essentially implementing a critical action: telling the stories, life-situations, limitations, great hopes, and transformative potentials that rural Moroccan families face everyday.


If we can effectively convey to audiences of the Moroccan public, the internationally-concerned, governments, civil, and business groups at all levels and places, individuals, and everyone who seek to hear and know the perceptions of Moroccan families and communities, then we can best serve the local people through building more inclusive sustainable development movements. 


We came to this conclusion--to communicate in multiple forms of written and spoken descriptions of rural projects and life--by first identifying a wide gamut of needs of both the people and how the HAF may better serve them.  What we together discovered was that, for example, in promoting girls’ full participation in education and developing clean drinking water systems for all, so much comes down to raising awareness so that Moroccan and global people and institutions will clearly understand the challenges and the essential part they can play as partners for change.


We are so thankful for the exploration that we took together during the Experiential Conference.  The momentum and the strategic drive carry on, and will continue to, as we everyday consider how we may best share the life experiences of rural Moroccan people as a powerful measure in order that we fulfill, together, their beautiful dreams.


Thank you so much to those who travelled to be with us from afar, and who helped enable the institutional support to make the Conference possible

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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
$32,211 raised of $37,500 goal
504 donations
$5,289 to go
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