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 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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In the past fifty years, Morocco’s population has nearly tripled. Mass migrations and urbanization have pushed more than half of the growing population into cities, producing huge shanty towns. Residents lack access to clean water and sanitation services. Such barriers can lead to higher risk of waterborne diseases, such as malaria and typhoid. Although cities are undoubtedly struggling with an unprecedented influx of migrants, the worst inequities exist in the gap between rural and urban populations. Lack of infrastructure and inexcusably high rates of poverty have left rural Morocco feeling distrustful towards the civic sector and struggling to maintain social order.

Agriculture makes up 19 percent  of Morocco’s GDP but only 15 percent of agricultural land is properly irrigated. Severe lack of sanitation services and wastewater treatment often means that the little water that can be used for irrigation is contaminated, further inhibiting rural farmers. Due to climate change, rainfall is predicted to decrease by approximately 50 percent by 2050, threatening Morocco with droughts and less access to water for an already struggling population.

The most vulnerable of populations (women and children) are hit the hardest in context of water scarcity. In a paper analyzing the impact of sustainable drinking water on women’s empowerment in rural Kyrgyzstan, it was found that lack of access to clean water imparts the largest burden on young women. Generally speaking, women are responsible for traveling to water pumps, waiting in long queues, manually pumping water, carrying water, and doing hand-washing chores. This can lead to chronic pain and overall impaired health. It was found that back pain was rampant among rural women because many were expected to carry up two 10L loads of water at a time. Traveling to water pumping areas, toilets, or open defecation sites also leaves women and girls vulnerable to disease, harassment, abuse, and sexual violence.

The responsibility for water collection does not only pose physical and health risks for women. The previously mentioned study noted that many subjects had strong feelings of guilt for not being able to protect their children from contracting diseases through contaminated water sources. Loss of freedom, personal time, and socialization due to the time-consuming and arduous task of carrying water made young women feel isolated. They are unable to be active in their communities or participate in decision-making processes, which can also lead to feelings of inferiority and disempowerment. If there is a lack of water in a household or a high water bill, it is often perceived as the woman’s fault, which can cause conflict and sometimes even violence against women. These worrying conclusions are not specific to Kyrgyz women. Their struggles mirror the struggles faced by rural Moroccan women in areas with similar levels of water scarcity. The responsibility for collecting water imparts a huge physical and emotional burden on Moroccan women and can make them vulnerable to the health risks, isolation, and abuse discussed above.

All those hours traveling and collecting water take away time in school for Moroccan girls. Children may be forced to work up to 32 hours a week, which keeps them out of school and repeats the vicious cycle of poverty. Morocco has high gender inequality when it comes to primary and secondary education, especially in rural areas. In addition to their responsibilities around water collection, girls are often forced to work for their impoverished families and enter early marriages, further hindering their development. There is little backlash against this, as Moroccan tradition tends to favor boys’ education. As such, gender role expectations and limited access to clean water continue to cause a disheartening drop in education for girls. The water scarcity burden bars a significant number of women from being able to directly contribute to the economy—which collectively and negatively impacts all Moroccans.

It is important to note that there are efforts to counteract the issue of inaccessible clean water and its subsequent social implications. International investments (from development banks, such as KfW in Germany) into the northern region of Morocco can bolster infrastructure to connect unsecured village water sources. There are efforts to construct transport pipelines with pumping stations, clean water reservoirs, distribution systems, and direct connection of water into homes.

The High Atlas Foundation has constructed 19 clean drinking water systems in Morocco’s remote villages, including wells, gravity flow systems, water towers, and solar pumps. Over 9,000 people benefited and now have easier access to clean drinking water. Efforts such as these make a significant contribution towards the UN’s SDG6 (clean water and sanitation). Village residents can experience better health and economic development, conceivably decreasing the socio-economic gap between urban and rural areas and thereby helping to serve SDG3 (health and wellbeing). Furthermore, provision of safe drinking water frees up time and decreases emotional and physical labor for women, potentially allowing girls to further pursue education and thus serving SDG10 (decreased inequality).

Inaccessible water is an issue that affects all Moroccans, regardless of gender or class. Although rural women bear the greatest and most direct burden of water scarcity, its precipitating social consequences impact the entire nation’s economy and development. Clearly, there are many stakeholders in this issue, and thus there should be widespread support to continue the effort of providing accessible water to Moroccan villages. In doing so, Moroccan citizens (especially women and children) can look forward to enjoying better overall health, safety, and empowerment.

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Recognizing this week’s World Environment Day reminds us of the evolution of the concept of sustainable development since the phrase was coined in a 1987 United Nations’ report. At that time, sustainable development concentrated on the idea of natural resource management and how humanity must not consume the sources of our sustenance to an extent that any harm is brought upon our collective future.

However, much has been learned since that reminder of the pivotal notion to help secure our continuity on Earth—lessons that are important to share on this year’s World Environment Day. Certainly, environmental considerations and perspectives remain a crux within the concept and practice of sustainable development.

However, time and evaluations also reveal that matters of cultural relativity, or the distinct priorities of any local community or neighborhood based on their specific circumstances and outlooks of life that they bear, infringe upon the extent sustainability of projects and initiatives can manifest. The way we cultivate our food and the choices we make regarding our production and consumption matter. If growers also process their yields and small farming landholders can indeed thrive, there is also a powerful consequence on life’s durability.

Clearly, political circumstances and how governments at different tiers of society emphasize the different services and goals in their public budgets impact the vitality of people’s growth actions. We see the technical capacities, variability of local know-how, and the dependability of enterprises on domestic or international technologies also factor into sustainable development.

Just as gender inequality is a global and historic cruel reality, it also exists in full measure in the places where we live, and it profoundly determines sustainability of our livelihoods and natural world. Conflict and peace, never-ending economic cycles, weather patterns and climate, emotional and mental well-being, family relationships (however contextually defined), the manner in which we share or do not, even our views upon those who have lived before us—all of these matters and more are determinants of not just our earthly but also of our local communities’ sustainability.

Today’s definition of sustainable development is a composite of all the diverse factors of life and a function of how we live. Yes, to that of the all-important natural resources, as was established by the United Nations’ 1987 statement, and also yes to so much more. If sustainable development understood as such crosses over into the ideals of World Environment Day, then even as conceptualizing it is important, experience tells us that doing so does not necessarily equate to practical actions for positive change.

Time and evaluations have also shown us this: to move forward, all these different perspectives needed for creating contemporary sustainable development, which is multidimensional and complex, require the inclusive participation of the people. Further, the support of all sectors and administrative tiers helps actualize communities’ planning, design, implementation, and management of growth projects that enhance their well-being.

People’s participation is synonymous with sustainability because their broad inclusion delivers the wide-ranging points of view necessary for sustainability to embody the diversity of qualities. The participation and control of development by the benefiting people is in fact the only assurance that they will interject the contextually-rooted and ranging dimensions of life in order for adaptive and appropriate development to take hold.

In sum, World Environment Day is about all people’s determination of their own growth fate, and as such all ships of life on Earth can then rise with the tide of all our self-discoveries and the fulfillment that they bring.

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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
$52,958 raised of $100,000 goal
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