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

Yossef Ben-Meir Ph.D., President at the High Atlas Foundation undertaking a Pairwise Ranking training exercise with community members, OCP company volunteers and school directors.

 

In a world where we create a living from shared resources, live in shared communities and all of our actions have flow-on effects, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is essential. It is also becoming more and more common, and we all know the benefits that CSR can provide. Though how can this be harnessed for sustainable community development?

We have seen a creative solution implemented by the private sector in Morocco. One such example is the OCP Group, which is making ‘human capital’ – their approximately 3,000 employees – available to work for one month in every year for civil society organisations and local community groups.

The incentive for company employees is a paid volunteer experience that releases them from daily duties, and applies their skills for the benefit of both communities and the company in which they work. Companies gain valuable insight into community development challenges, while also flipping power structures by working directly for community groups and placing them in the driving seat.

The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) has worked with companies to conduct training in the ‘participatory approach’ methodology giving company volunteers the tools they need to engage in meaningful and bottom-up development conversations with communities. The methodology provides a means for communities to communicate their needs and then prioritise their solutions (using a ‘Pairwise’ Ranking Assessment and other tools). Through this process communities agree on the highest priority projects and avoid ad hoc project implementation. Top priorities have emerged for many communities as the provision of drinking water, electricity, security and co-curricular resources for schools.

Results of the participatory training with OCP employees with school directors for CSR have so far been extremely promising. A number of projects for community organisations are progressing in a short timeframe with the additional human capital available to them. Expertise can also be committed with a long-term project horizon that transcends short-term funding cycles.

As examples, a number of projects are being developed to provide water pumps to schools in the Marrakech-Safi province, to provide drinking water as soon as possible. Another progression has been the scoping of an organic tree nursery at the Alkhawarizmy Technical High School in Safi aiming to provide applied environmental and agricultural education to students through high-value industries of the future (STEM). This is not only a necessary complement to their electrical and mechanical subject offerings, but may also provide a potential income stream to fund other essential community infrastructure.

Providing human capital for development is a creative solution to CSR, providing a real investment in the form that many rural communities need – personnel and expertise – and not just cold hard cash which on its own may be misdirected.

This is a great strategy for more companies to come forward for the benefit of human development, especially in regions and rural areas where communities are being left behind.

For more information regarding the participatory approach methodology training or working regional communities in Morocco please contact haf@highatlasfoundation.org

Amelia Haigh is a volunteer Proposals Writer for the High Atlas Foundation, Marrakech.

 

HAF staff, company volunteers and representatives of the Alkhawarizmy Technical High School on a project site visit.

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In a little under just one week, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) has met with members of 21 cooperatives throughout four provinces of the Oujda Region in Morocco. We have learned the stories behind the development of their cooperatives, about their products, unique manufacturing techniques, the highs and the lows of establishment, ongoing challenges, and impressive achievements. These details, of course, differ across each cooperative, but one common sentiment was reiterated time and time again: members from provinces stretching across Oujda have all shared gratitude for the knowledge and skills they acquired through HAF’s cooperative-building training, made possible by the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).

While we are overjoyed to hear the different ways in which our MEPI-funded training has significantly impacted the progress of cooperatives in Oujda, we recognize that is just the beginning of how we can help pave the way to success. We assist along many steps, such as helping cooperatives build relationships with their provincial authorities. On September 9th, HAF staff met in one large room with members of seven cooperatives of the Guercif province. It is perhaps no coincidence that facilitating a meeting utilizing the participatory approach—the very core of all of HAF’s sustainable development projects—proved to be extremely fruitful.

One result of having a participatory meeting with multiple cooperatives was the revelation of the commonalities and shared needs among the large group, followed by equally beneficial solutions. For example, Haoud Jdi and Elmanousri are two women’s cooperatives, both established in 2017, that sell food products: olives and couscous, and cookies and couscous, respectively. Each cooperative expressed a need for a central location for production as it would not only be more able to acquire certification from the food inspectors and thus enable the product to reach national markets, but also increase the quantity of their products made daily. Seeing this shared need between two similar cooperatives, HAF President, Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, suggested Haoud Jdi and Elmanousri join forces for shared benefit. The women agreed and identified a goal to submit a proposal to their local governmentto create a coalition, including an invitation to a third women’s cooperative, and identify with them available land and a building structure for their production activities.

The participatory meeting also consequently highlighted the importance for cooperatives to consider how they can bridge their internal resources (i.e., skills) with their external ones (i.e., funding, land, etc.). For example, the TamzrayneCooperative, created in 2009, sells oil from different medicinal plants, mostly rosemary flowers. They have a partnership with Morocco’s High Commission of Waters and Forests, which has provided 3,000 hectares from where they can harvest the wild medicinal plants, and they also have members who skillfully sell their products. Again, seeing the cooperative’s strengths, Dr. Ben-Meir suggested Tamzraynemaximize the use of their resources and widen their cooperative’s production, based on the vision of the cooperative members. Specifically, since theyalready have land, water, and members skilled in selling plants and plant products, it would be feasible to establish fruit tree nurseries and cultivation (carob and nuts), thereby giving them the opportunity to make more profit from additional products.

Further, the meeting exposed to cooperative members the significance of considering what resources they already have or that they can access on their own. Several cooperatives reported utilizing the ministries and other agencies to submit project proposals for potential partnership-building and financial support. The Hikma Agriculture Cooperative, for example, submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Agriculture to fund land, water well construction, supplies, and a building for production. On the other hand, the men’s bread-baking cooperative, Chebab Hamria, used their existing network to secure a production site rent-free for six months.

Over the course of HAF’s Oujda trip thus far, it has been made clear that trainings such as our MEPI-funded cooperative-building training is vital for giving members the tools, resources, and confidence to pursue their goals. Attending the workshop gave participants knowledge about how to establish their cooperatives as well as helped them acquire or build upon skills necessary for managing successful businesses. However, it has also been made clear that beyond knowledge and skills-building training, cooperative members need guidance on how to utilize not only already-existing resources but also how to team-up and utilize each other for shared benefit. The participatory planning meeting in Guercif proved to be a crucial tool that cooperatives can utilize to identify common needs and share experiences. Moving forward, HAF will urge members of different cooperatives within one municipality or province to develop a supportive network through the participatory approach as we continue our efforts to help cooperatives throughout Morocco excel.

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Agricultural fields in Amizmiz, Region of Marrakech (Morocco)

 

Six months ago, when I learned that I had been accepted as an intern with the High Atlas Foundation, I knew nothing of Morocco; not its peoples, its culture, or its challenges. Upon first deciding to pursue a rural community-based assignment rather than a job in the office in Marrakech, I was nervous due to the unfamiliarity of such a lifestyle and the preconceived notions that occupied my brain. I held expectations that now embarrass me for their naïve generalization: expectations of poor sanitation, unsophisticated technology, and lack of contact with the outside world.

To be certain, there are definite lifestyle differences between the societies of Amizmiz and Charlottesville, VA, where I study at the University of Virginia. But from my first day in Amizmiz, I realized that my expectations did not exactly match the reality of this community. I found myself comfortable situated in the small but welcoming house of my host mother, who I will call Kotar. Not only did I find myself with electricity, running water, and consistent cellular data, but I found that Kotar spoke English with enough fluidity to understand me and serve as de facto translator when I met with people in town.

But rather than disrupt my purpose here, the disparity that I found between original expectations and reality actually granted me some freedom to smoothly adjust to life here and refocus around the core goal of my time here: to diagnose and address the primary aspects of need and desire in this community through personal observation.

Whilst designing a plan for my time here, I researched the High Atlas Foundation’s previous efforts, notably a women’s empowerment program and a nursery of almond trees planted in the nearby Atlas Mountains, leading me to assume that these projects would factor prominently in my work here.

However, from my initial observations and interviews, I began to understand—as is reasonable considering the complicated nature of entrenched systematic problems in any society—that the strengths and challenges of life here are more complicated than can be easily summarized. Indeed, beyond the general themes of women’s empowerment and economic stimulus, complex and variable issues such as barriers to health care access and lack of employment opportunities have emerged as potential areas of focus. To truly understand which areas of community development to focus on, I am prepared to patiently witness life here and listen to the concerns voiced by the people around me.

Moving forward, it is only with the companionship of Kotar and my status as a semi-permanent resident that I hope to develop trust with locals to access more candid opinions and also to demonstrate the High Atlas Foundation’s continued interest in being a community partner of Amizmiz. Only as a welcome, familiar guest in peoples’ lives will I hope to learn genuine opinions about what challenges they face.

As I have begun to observe daily routines, ordinary interactions, and cultural norms, I have also grown to realize that one of my primary challenges on assignment will be reporting my observations in a way that feels thorough but not objectifying or reducing people to mere characterizations. Although I am fortunate enough to witness events and interactions wholly foreign and new to me, many of these instances are ordinary and commonplace to any local.

In this regard, I face a challenge in presenting the facts as I experience them while maintaining that they are only the facts according to my version of the truth. While I hope to only present my experiences through the lens of a well-meaning observer, I would be remiss to ignore the fact that I will be representing the lives of others, giving them no chance to review or edit how I present their lives. Given that I will be here for several weeks, I am hoping to gain a thorough understanding of the lives of the people around me so that the narrative that I create through these articles aligns closely with the narratives that these people would write for themselves.

Although I have been here but a short time, I feel already at home in Amizmiz and hope to do justice to it’s peoples and culture through my reportage of observations. Indeed, I will consider my time here successful if I accurately represent life here through these written updates and develop potential future projects to improve upon an already wonderful society.

Give to making a difference.

 

Aurora’s host family in Amizmiz

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Dear Friends,
 
It has been a journey for us putting together this year’s Annual Report, because we decided to make it comprehensive, including visually, of all of the work of the High Atlas Foundation since its beginning in 2000.  We hope that you like it, and that you feel a connection with HAF’s Moroccan mission.
 
We work in agriculture, health, education, multiculturalism, in rural (mostly) and urban areas, with projects in all Regions of Morocco, focused heavily on women’s and youth empowerment, with remote communities, in partnership with government, civil society, and business, and all this tied to a single premise: We implement projects that the people together determine, manage, and receive their benefits. 
 
AND,
 
We concentrate most heavily in agriculture, because rural people do, and because by multiplying the size of its economy—from growing tree and plant nurseries, to commercialization of raw and processed product, building cooperatives, and monitoring carbon offsets—we generate new revenue to reinvest in human development projects, beyond agriculture.
 
AND FINALLY,
 
By implementing people-driven development in Morocco, a nation that has enacted this approach in many of its policies, charters, and laws, and by building a revenue-generating mechanism to build local capacities and projects, we can help communities all across the Kingdom implement the change they seek.  This is HAF’s vision, and Morocco’s goal.
 
Achieving this HAF-Moroccan dream would be profound for the country, the Continent, and the Middle East.  Morocco’s human development journey, facilitated by participatory and decentralization approaches, is indeed a great hope, lighting for the world a sustainable national recourse and pathway.  
 
The High Atlas Foundation is joined by, and joins, many Partners is this Moroccan-universal journey, to achieve the hopes of the people, all people, especially those who could utilize us most.
 
Destinations are not certain in our world.  What is certain is that we have a Moroccan national framework for transformative change through participatory democratic means.  It is also certain that Morocco absolutely needs the fulfillment of its sustainable development, and that the nation and those in the world who come to know its model will be most truly better off for it.
 
Please read HAF's Annual Report: 2018 and let us know what you think
 
Yours faithfully,
 

Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir

HAF President

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By Errachid Montassir

HAF Project Manager

 

A beautiful arrangement has brought together the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) and The Vacation Project (TVP), which is their shared desire to create positive changes in Morocco.  HAF, working on sustainable development using a participatory approach, seeks to establish development projects in different parts of Morocco that local communities design and manage. TVP is a program created for fulfilling acts service through providing people with the opportunity to have a definitive departure from normal-life scenarios. TVP guides volunteers to pursue voluntary work with communities around the world and experience a deffierent life, helping local people and associations achieve their goals.

HAF and TVP planned a program that combines voluntary work and personal growth. The special partnership culminated with an initiative this month, spending 4 days with a Moroccan rural community, doing voluntary work, delivering school supplies for kids, helping farmers and women in their work, and doing many workshops with them as well as with the youth.

The community is Azzaden Valley, located in the municipality in the Al Haouz Province of the Marrakesh-Safi region.  About 60 kilometers from Marrakech to the Azzadene Valley, between green fields of farms and walnut, almond, and apple trees, which HAF has previously contributed to in their planting. There you can also see the incredible relations among the village members as their livelihoods are improving.

The 2nd of January 2018, was our date for the visit. One day before the appointment, the 11 TVP volunteers coming from the United States and the HAF staff had a meeting in Marrakech, to put the last touches on the program before the visit.  Following that everyone was agreement about what needed to be done.

Traveling from the city to the village was a totally fantastic moment to start 2018.  But, what was even better was staying with host families, sharing the wonderful culture and exchanging beautiful memories.  This was the first time they hosted internationals, reflecting the warmth between the local people and the volunteers. A host family member, expressed: “ I have never experienced hosting people from another culture, living with my small family, but I’m super excited to spend these 4 days together.”

After the wonderful meeting with the host families, we spoke about next step during the first day. A field of 300 apple trees 4 kilometers from the village was looking good as a future source of income not only for the farmers, but for all the village inhabitants.  However, the trees were in need of irrigation. Here the volunteers took charge of watering the trees with the cold water coming from a source high in the mountains. Ideas about organic agriculture and organic local products were shared. Organic agriculture has been one of the High Atlas Foundation principle activities since 2003, and the HAF is working on organic products with more than 22 provinces in Morocco, including organic certification (and carbon credit certification).

TVP and HAF did not plan only to do voluntary work during the day, but there was also an important chance to organize workshops with the community during the night.  This HAF does before (and during) every project--meeting with the communities using the participatory approach with them, to figure out their challenges and needs, by having them coming up with their priorities and design their future initiatives.

The first TVP and HAF workshop with the community was with the farmers and the local association members. Wonderfully, everyone introduced themselves in Arabic - even the TVP volunteers.  Four mixed groups including the volunteers and the inhabitants, all together produced a community map of the village and shared ideas, and the community members brought up the needs of the village.

The village inhabitants, who voted on their priorities, produced three priorities:

1- A center for the local association

2- Hospital and sewage system

3- A women’s apple vinegar cooperative and agricultural basin

It is interesting that, the village men do not only think about their needs, but they included the village women’s priorities as well.  There were tears after the barriers broke down between the community and the international volunteers.

Our stay in the community provided a great chance to meet the kids as well, and make beautiful smiles coming from their hearts. We went to a primary school shared by four villages in the morning with, two objectives: 1) to meet the children and do a workshop with them about the environment, and 2) to deliver school supplies (backpacks, soccer balls, winter hats, pens and other nice gifts). This was a collaboration between TVP and HAF's Sami's Project, which is a HAF initiative that strives to achieve the goals of sustainable development through schools. Sami’s Project seeks to understand people’s sense of their environment and the importance of protecting it, and to spread the culture of planting among students in rural areas.

The students and teachers were so happy to have that good morning with us, as well as we were extremely excited to spend fruitful half day with them. We did many activities with the kids; for instance, having them draw their future school, which is a participatory method to figure out the needs of the school.  The first priority was a bathroom, and the TVP volunteers are so happy to help with the schools infrastructure in the future.

Before the women’s workshop, the volunteers had time to build new terraces in an apple field, which was really hard work, but well done. Following that farmers will be able to plant more trees.

The workshop with the village women was another emotional moment.  The women as usual showed us the real Moroccan hospitality, bringing to us natural food and local bread with beautiful smiles.  They gathered to talk about their needs and to also make their voices heard in the community.

It was a moment, while the groups were drawing their community map, that one of the women drew a green heart on the paper.  We all asked her what is the reason behind that? "This is the current relationship between us and you.  I feel great to sit with you all, talking about different subjects, and even we don't speak the same language.  We appreciate your visit to us a lot, and totally welcome you anytime".

The women’s priorities were:

1-         Women apple vinegar cooperative

2-         Sewage system

3-         Hammam (Public shower)

The women’s workshop ended up with a strong relationship between the volunteers and the village women, helping to ensure that they will meet again and to contribute to achieving their goals.

After we built trust with the community and the TVP volunteers, it was, unfortunately, time to say goodbye to the host families. Luckily, we all came back with a very strong relation with everyone in the community, and we are seeking to come back with the solutions to the problems discussed. Information gathered through the workshops will help to build proposals for many projects by the High Atlas Foundation, as it already started growing a nursery of multiple fruit trees. These trees will not be only providing free organic fruit trees for Ouirgane municipality but it will provide them for more than 22 provinces in Morocco.

HAF and TVP visit to the village in the High Atlas Mountains has played a significant role in building another strong link with our communities in Morooco.

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