Water is one of the most important resource management aspects that integrates the notion of sustainability in Morocco.The High Atlas Foundation is focused on spreading and strengthening sustainable development in Moroccan communities through several big and small projects.There are nexus cycles between three main elements/keys of life, which are water, energy, and food that can build a strong green economy. The USAID Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) team is working on developing proposals by researching potential water resources through field trips.
On February 3, 2021, the F2F team took a field trip aimed at visiting three locations. HAF Project Manager and F2F Volunteer Coordinator Errachid, Project Assistant Lahcen, and I accompanied local volunteer Laarbi for the trip. We drove toward the first area,the Business Center in Ait Ourir 33 km east of Marrakech.While there, the team held a meeting with Anas, Digital Strategist and Communication Manager at AFCD, to discuss their vision for upcoming projects. Kamal, President of the AFCD Foundation, virtually joined the meeting from Rabat.
These projects will be powered by potential partnerships between HAF, the Moroccan Jewish community, and the AFCD Foundation.The AFCD will be the host organization. Their task will be collecting data, conducting evaluations, and facilitating workshops for community members to have increased training. In addition, the Foundation will provide different activities for youth and women.
HAF and AFCD are great partners, whose vision is to do a global study with community members before moving to the next step. The High Atlas Foundation is looking forward to accomplishing other achievements in Al Haouz province. During the meetings, HAF and the community brainstormed the possibilities to create new nurseries, which would create a sense of harmony and interfaith within the Morrocan affiliation.A Multicultural and Interfaith Foundation.
A Multicultural and Interfaith Foundation
HAF seeks to preserve the cultural Jewish heritage as part and parcel of the Moroccan culture through several partnerships. the thing that strengthens the international relationship among the two countries. It is a historical breakthrough to maintain the diplomatic relationship.
HAF is currently operating 12 community-managed organic fruit tree nurseries. One of which is located in the Al Haouz province and the other in the Ouarzazate province. The nurseries were built in partnership with the Jewish community, which helped provide the local population with job opportunities and food-sufficiency.
HAF’s vision is to build more nurseries. The F2F team along with local volunteers take part in participatory meetings with communities around Morocco to identify good locations and develop strategy, where the possibilities become realistic proposals that include all the details.
The second place our team headed during our field trip was toward the tomb of Saint Rabbi Mizhrai in the village of Chames. We met the Sheikh and had a fruitful discussion surrounding the lack of water in this region.
Only salinated water comes from the mountain, which is neither useful for agriculture nor for drinking water. The team decided that the solution is to dig a well near the river,4,000 M from the saint’s tomb. The well’s water will be used for the potential tree nursery.
Full of enthusiasm and passion, the team took another trip to the "Rabbi Daniel Hashomer'' in the Ait Fasca commune. There, the community faces the same issue of accessing clean water.
The last trip was meeting with the president of the Tamagart municipality, Mr. Hassan Azaroual, and community members. Engaging the municipality in a partnership can play an important role in making a tree nursery project successful. This is another community that needs to find a source of water to bring the water to the saint.The president was really impressed by the HAF’s approach and existing tree projects within Jewish lands. He encouraged implementing this project in ''Rabbi Daniel Hashomer'' as soon as possible. The municipality is looking to find ways to provide water for the saint and be part of the project.
Participatory community movements found a contemporary impetus in post-World War II reconstruction of Europe and decolonization, primarily in Africa. The approach of locally managed change, however, was highly distrusted during these initial years, during which the dominant view was that central-level policy makers are in a better position than the people to make highly productive decisions regarding development projects.
The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, passed under the leadership of President John Kennedy, marked an attempt to de-link U.S. development assistance from the nation’s military, political, and economic interests. The Act emphasized “maximum participation” on the part of the people in their own development.
Subsequent decades have shown that market-based models for growth, while generating higher levels of economic activity, also created dependency in developing nations as their economies became increasingly structured to meet the consumption needs of other countries. The participatory approach, which at this time was widely considered an alternative to achieve improved livelihoods, became more desirable by thought leaders and communities that felt that their futures had become a reflection of outside nations’ priorities rather than their own autonomous ones.
By the 1990s, this people’s driven methodology for sustainable community development became mainstream. The focus shifted toward designing the interactive activities to be conducted in order to help local groups in analyzing their past, opportunities, and visions for a better reality that they seek.
Over the past decade, there have been more nations seeking ways to institutionalize the participatory method for development. Local and national charters, programs and frameworks to advance the liberation of women, freedoms for the advancement of civil society organizations, constitutions, and in legally codified requirements are all intended to ultimately be upheld by elected officials and the general public. For countries who are also becoming increasingly amenable to decentralized management systems, their tasks are shifting from creating national policies that enact participatory principles to one of fulfilling these statutory requirements.
Thus, from generations past of participatory activism being distrusted by the mainstream and its gradual growth due to dissatisfaction with market-based solutions imposed by wealthy countries, we have now reached a common understanding that public participation is a, if not the, primary factor of sustainable livelihoods. In most recent decades, participatory requirements have become embedded in institutions. In the decade to come, we face the awesome, grueling, and even existential challenge of finally fulfilling the participation of the people across localities and across nations of the world.
What will be vital in this regard is to constantly improve activities that enable people to act together toward goals that they have defined as a group. Those activities become conducive and efficacious when they are drawn from disciplines and contexts from around the world and adapted to specific situations.
The necessity is that communities gather to discuss their ideas and plans to reach consensus on projects related to agriculture, water, and other essentials of life. These plans are then backed by critical financial sources from all society sectors.
This timeline characterizes the past and present in broad terms. There were participatory pioneers in much earlier decades and centuries, and there are suppressants today, such as those nations that constrict civil organizations and bind women and girls to intolerable controls. These general trends and outlier experiences are informative so that we may be more precise in how we enact participatory movements in all places where they are needed.
Let us hope that the next ten years fulfill the participatory ideal that has been intensifying across all different outlets in order for their sustainable benefits, including prosperity, to be present in our lives.
Dr. Yossef is President of the High Atlas Foundation, which is an implementer of the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Morocco.
On the 19th of November each year, the United Nations celebrates the International Day of Toilets. This day is meant to raise awareness about the situation of 4.2 billion individuals who do not have access to hygiene services such as toilets and also showcase their crucial role in preventing fatal diseases caused by human feces. It also aims to take action against this phenomenon to prevent the world from facing a hygiene crisis and contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.
Having access to a toilet might seem simple, however for some, it is a luxury that can’t be afforded. Globally, 1 out of 3 individuals does not have access to a proper toilet. Either they cannot afford one or the environment that they are living in does not allow it; one of the main factors causing a lack of access to proper toiles is the number of people around the world who are living on the streets or in inappropriate houses.
This year, the celebration’s theme is “World Toilet Day 2020: Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change” which tackles the impact of climate change on hygiene systems around the world. The effects of climate change, such as the rising sea level, floods, droughts, can cause damage to various aspects of the sanitation system, including pipes and purification systems. This can cause wastewater to contaminate underground water deposits, which may result in an enormous health crisis. As the climate change situation is getting worse by the day, its impact is making many hygiene systems vulnerable.
As COVID-19 threatens the lives of millions of people around the world, having a proper hygiene system such as clean toilets, hand-washing areas, and most importantly access to clean water, is crucial because it will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among individuals and communities. Not having access to these important items will make the fight against the Coronavirus even harder than it is now.
Two out of five schools in the world were not equipped with basic devices for handwashing before the COVID-19 pandemic. These numbers prove that the sanitation systems situation is critical around the world, costing the lives of millions of people around the world, and it can’t be ignored any longer.
As an organization that is striving to enhance the lives of individuals, the High Atlas Foundation is contributing to the sustainable development goals by raising awareness about climate change among individuals of all ages and genders, providing access to clean water in schools where they and rural areas, and also planting trees all over Morocco through its various projects.
HAF has worked with local partners to build bathrooms and water systems for seven schools in Boujdour, two schools in Rhamna, and one school in each of the Al Haouz and Youssoufia provinces. This initiative had more than 180 student beneficiaries in each school and still aiming to help others students around the kingdom.
HAF also contributed to the fight against Coronavirus by providing hygiene products to vulnerable families while raising awareness about how to act during the pandemic. Committing to this cause, the High Atlas Foundation encourages each and every individual to take action for a better hygiene system for everyone.
The UN International Day of Toilets is an opportunity for us to reflect upon the situations of our fellow humans around the world and take the necessary measures to give back and provide this basic right of clean water to everyone.
The world is currently suffering from a major pandemic, and the most effective way to control its spread is through healthy hygienic practices -- regular hand-washing, the use of face masks, and social distancing. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has made October 15 one of the most important days of celebration this year: Global Handwashing Day.
Hand-washing saves lives, limiting or even preventing the spread of viruses such as COVID-19. It is the most accessible and affordable way to protect people from illnesses. Studies show that regular hand washing with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds reduces the transmission of outbreak-related pathogens such as cholera, Ebola, shigellosis, SARS, and hepatitis E, reduces diarrheal diseases by 30 to 48 percent, and is also a key in the fight against COVID-19.
Soap and water destroy the outer membrane of the COVID-19 virus and thereby inactivates it. This simple habit can prevent the need to pay for expensive medication or treatments, and it can save many lives. If handwashing is such a simple solution, what could stop people from washing their hands?
Many areas around the world suffer from lack of access to clean water. Often, even if they have access to drinking water sources, community members (usually women or girls) will have to walk for many hours to reach it. This hard journey makes water a precious commodity that cannot be wasted, and what makes washing hands regularly a luxurious habit that they cannot afford.
One of the High Atlas Foundation’s (HAF) main goals is to provide a better life for rural communities that are sacrificing their education, their health, and also their future just to walk many kilometers in search of clean water. HAF aims to provide these communities with drinking water through initiatives such as building wells and installing water systems that connect the water source with the houses of the villages, lifting a huge burden from the families’ shoulders.
These types of projects enable girls to go to school and women to be engaged in cooperatives instead of spending so much of their time seeking water daily. They also contribute to the health, well-being, and economic power of a family. Clean water decreases the chances of family members getting sick from drinking unhealthy water, which can affect the family’s potential income, especially if the parents are the ones who got sick.
While HAF works to provide marginalized communities with clean water, it also invites people around the world to contribute to the project in order to help more and more communities around Morocco.
Washing hands has always been important, but coronavirus has served as a reminder of just how vital this simple habit is to our daily lives. So let us save the world together and wash our hands.
Humankind faces the unprecedented challenge of existing on the warmest earth we have known. A lack of political will and societal awareness has inhibited the necessary, vigorous change to meet this challenge.
North Africa is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change, experiencing severe environmental degradation. Morocco is no exception. Creeping desertification, compromised forests, diminishing water resources, damaged ecosystems, and natural disasters threaten not only Morocco’s rich biodiversity but also the livelihoods, well-being, and health of its people.
Morocco is the energy pioneer on the African continent, one of the first to champion renewable energy (RE) and to align economic development with environmental protection and sustainability. Several large-scale projects have been initiated, but small-scale projects remain insufficient to enable a successful transition to 100 percent RE. Morocco’s promotion of decentralization acknowledges the peoples’ will to participate in decision-making and manage their own affairs, but these have not been significantly applied throughout the country.
The mission of the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) as a facilitator is to gather experts from academia, civil society, public and private sectors, and legislators willing to move forward and bring meaningful policy reform through proactive and decisive participation. Discussions and multi-participant workshops with local and international experts have been essential to our current work in this area. We have assessed the current state of energy sector development and decentralization and offer here a way forward.
Morocco’s energy sector is highly carbon-intensive and heavily dependent on energy imports, affected by fluctuations in price and supply. Electricity demand has increased dramatically from population growth, economic development, and near-universal access – necessitating foreign imports to meet demand. Morocco has set ambitious targets, with institutional and legal frameworks for RE attracting national and international investment, research and innovation. It has set in place a considerable number of green energy initiatives, including two ambitious programs for solar and wind power. Knowledge and expertise within Morocco are thus among the most profound within the continent, and the attractive investment climate has lowered costs for alternative energy.
Decentralization is an integral part of Morocco’s policy agendas, with frameworks for doing so productively, inclusively, and equitably. Some frameworks include: the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), which provides sub-nationally managed funding for local development projects; the Municipal Charter, which requires locally-elected representatives to create participatory development plans for local projects; the Decentralization Roadmap, which integrates the three pillars of devolution, deconcentration, and delegation; the Decentralization Charter, submitted by the government at the request of King Mohammed VI, ideally intended to bind national and regional government agencies to specific functions in administering human services; and the newly-ratified Constitution in 2011, which further enshrined the right of citizens’ participation in decision-making processes with decentralization, transparency, and good governance.
Our assessment has shown that decentralization of energy transition requires the following measures:
In conclusion, Morocco has an enormous opportunity to address the climate crisis. Large-scale implementation of renewables is indispensable to meet Morocco’s energy needs, but they should be accompanied by small-scale RE solutions to help reduce poverty. Becoming a world climate leader with a different model for energy and electricity issues requires policy and regulatory frameworks as well as new forms of cooperation and investments opportunities. Setting clear political goals is essential to secure investments, stakeholders’ mobilization, and resources allocation. A strong political will is indispensable for driving the decentralization of renewable energy.
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