Improve Rural Moroccan Schools: Sami's Project

by High Atlas Foundation
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Improve Rural Moroccan Schools: Sami's Project
Improve Rural Moroccan Schools: Sami's Project
Improve Rural Moroccan Schools: Sami's Project

Within the framework of a Small Grants' project that the High Atlas Foundation administers in collaboration with the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), the U.S Department of State  (DOS),  to promote public participation in environmental decision-making, resulting in increased environmental protection and enforcement of  environmental laws, 4 sub-grantees from Morocco and Jordan were selected through a call for applications from different associations

The goal of this project is to increase civil society engagement in environmental protection and promote public participation in environmental decision-making, resulting in increased environmental protection and enforcement of environmental laws.

The program promotes public awareness of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Environment Chapters and national environmental laws. The United States-Jordan FTA and the United States-Morocco both stand as commitments by all three countries to promote environmental protection. The small grants program and the Environment Chapter both emphasize public participation—affording people the opportunity to learn about as well as contribute to environmental protection initiatives and policies. The Small Grants Program supports these efforts by engaging civil society to improve environmental protection and strengthen environmental laws.

The small grants were awarded for proposals focusing on educational and awareness-raising activities that engage a broad range of stakeholders and promote interactions between local authorities and civil society.

Public Participation in Environmental Protection in Morocco

Among the 4 selected sub-grantees was Alfath Association for Development, a Moroccan CSO practicing in Bouchane and Ait Taleb, two rural villages in the Rhamna Province north of Marrakech. These villages are aware of the waste problems and air pollution they are facing, Together and with the participation of local authorities, schools, and parents of students they decided to develop programs to educate the citizens on how to solve these, and other, environmental issues.

Alfath association and its partners are working together to achieve the project’s objectives including the creation of a fruit tree nursery with a solar irrigation pump in Bouchane. Their goals is to grow over 100,000 olive and other trees, providing the Ait Taleb community solar pumps for two wells to be used for livestock water, and to also enable the reduction of air pollution and the elimination of the need for fuel, in addition to training students and their parents with the hopes of helping to establish a culture of environmental protection.

In cooperation with local authorities, Alfath was able to remove the traditional places locals were throwing waste, and instead take the waste to farmers to use as a fertilizer, improving the cleanliness of the area and helping the farms at the same time. One of the main deliverables of this project is a manual for each village to serve as a reference for measuring the development and the preservation of the environment.

As part of the OES program, HAF directly engaged 1,987 primary school children, 1,878 older youth, and 1,160 farmers in environmental action workshops that build knowledge around effective tree planting, water management, and participatory planning. These events - as part of HAF's Sami's Project - were also an opportunity to plant 15,144 trees as well as 445 medicinal plants with members of schools, cooperatives, and associations in 18 Moroccan provinces.

Despite the current COVID-19 crises in Morocco, Alfath is doing a very important job and will close the project in the next few months, hoping to have new project opportunities for the sustainability of its work and its impact.

Public Participation in Environmental Protection in Jordan

From Jordan, Methods for Irrigation and Agriculture (MIRRA), a Jordanian Non for profit organization was selected for a project entitled ''Realizing Sustainable Agriculture In Azraq.''

Azraq is a small town in the eastern desert of Jordan. It is characterized by depleting groundwater aquifers, limited rainfall, salinization of soil and groundwater, failing agriculture and ecosystems, and communities that struggle to survive and achieve. However, MIRRA, together with their local partner Rural Family Society (RFS), was able to see through these challenges and develop a path into sustainable development that will result in improved environmental conditions, sustainable agricultural practices, and enhanced livelihood of communities.

Thus, MIRRA identified the challenges and designed the solutions to implement through the project for a duration of 18 months.Members of the organization used an ultra-low pressure drip irrigation system in conjunction with magnetic water devices to irrigate fodder crops with saline water. They used this method as a mechanism for improving water management and mitigating the impact of soil and groundwater salinity.

The team utilized saline-tolerant crop species in conjunction with organic fertilizers, which are available locally and at a very low cost. This combination helps to transform ill-agricultural practices in the study area into sustainable agriculture that will result in greater feed production and improved soil conditions in the long run.

To ensure sustainability, equity, and gender balance, the team created two small demonstration farms -- one for a female owner and one for a male owner. They also developed a curriculum which they used throughout the project. Additionally, a team of young professionals was trained and certified to continue and expand the work.

On the 17th of November MIRRA held the closing ceremony of the MIRRA-HAF-RFS project "Realizing Sustainable Agriculture In Azraq" to celebrate the successes of the project. The event showcased the successful outcomes of the project and discussed what will be done in the next phases.

There were more than 30 participants included but not limited to: The MIRRA Team (implementing NGO), HAF team (doner), the RFS team (implementing partner), Ms. Yara (U.S Department of State-Jordan), Dr. Mohammad (Al-Balqa University), MIRRA’s interns from the Water Innovation Technology (WIT) project, MIRRA’s interns from the Hussain Technical University (HTU) Sahara program, the Azraq youth team, as well as direct and indirect beneficiary farmers.

The ceremony's final remarks were delivered by Dr. Yossef, President of the High Atlas Foundation: “Not giving up, know each other, share success stories and keep trying.”

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During the last week of September, the Earth Day organization held a webinar entitled “Igniting Climate Literacy: Creating a Citizenry Ready and Willing to Act Now and Build a Sustainable Economic Future” to celebrate the 50th annual Earth Day. Organizers of the event gathered notable panelists from around the world to lead discussions about the importance of educating the youth on climate change and other environmental topics. By encouraging these conversations they aim to ensure a citizenry that is equipped with hope, skills, and motivation to take action for a more sustainable future.

Organizers of the webinar set out to help participants have a broader perspective on climate change. As well as highlighting the importance of educating youth, discussions throughout the webinar related to the connections of climate and environmental education to conservation goals, increased green jobs, a healthy economic future, and a sustainable planet.

The participants initiated the dialogue insisting youth must be provided the right education about climate change because they are the leaders of the future. However, they urged the national governments to build a strategy to integrate climate education into the educational systems around the world. Senior Director WWF Pakistan Rab, “Amazing people doing amazing work is not enough.”

One participant in the webinar, Rohan, is a Youth Climate & Environmental Health Activist. Along with his organization, he is translating climate information into different languages to provide access to non-English speakers. They believe this is a necessary step to start engaging youth around the world and encourage them to participate in their local communities’ environmental initiatives.

Frida, another participant, is a Swedish climate change communications expert, activist, and writer. Eklund agreed with Rohan, adding that parents must be engaged and encouraged to manifest climate change in their own lives, too, since they are role models for their children. As children are influenced by their parents’ actions and not their words, Eklund invites parents to participate in environmental activities with their children and discuss simple solutions that they can apply as young citizens. She also stated that 7 out of 10 children are aware of climate change and they are not optimistic about the future of the planet. This is why engaging youth will help them make their voices heard.

Neeshad, Executive Director of Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar, suggested that it is imperative to bring people toward environmental initiatives by working with governments, schools, and youth-led organizations to provide training that will increase the level of climate literacy and promote concrete actions that can result in more media coverage. Shafi argues that this is an important step in raising awareness. Doing so targets large audiences who consume media, giving an amplified voice to the cause.

Asha is the principal and CEO of The Kindergarten Starters and Executive Leader, Climate Change – GEMS Education, Dubai, UAE. Alexander agreed about the importance of including climate education in schools, citing her group of schools as an example, where they have already integrated this type of training into their curriculum. As the CEO of the school group, she made sure that the climate literacy program and climate change teachers exist in all of the 500 schools around the Middle East. She also expressed that these programs engage the parents, too. They participate in different environmental activities, resulting in more environmental discussions not only during the training but also inside the family’s house.

Jessica from the Ministry of Environment of Peru argued that climate education is still missing because climate change is considered a political issue rather than a global issue that impacts everyone. Even in universities, she asserted, climate discussion is still completely scientific with no humanitarian links. As a result, these discussions only provide general and superficial information that is not enough to trigger the youth to manifest against climate change. Huertas said that “even in universities with great resources, the discussion is not taken seriously. I can only imagine the situation in humble universities with limited resources.”

HAF’s role in the environmental revolution

As the discussion of climate change is becoming more necessary, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) continues to work with youth, farmers, families, associations, and schools in Morocco to create environmental initiatives using the participatory approach. HAF has already conducted numerous workshops in communities around Morocco, including rural areas, to raise awareness and provide all the necessary information about climate change and its impacts on the lives of people.

HAF has also contributed to many projects that aim to fight climate change, such as planting around the kingdom each year. To date, HAF has planted over 4.5 million trees. The foundation also encourages citizens to contribute to this planting process by providing trees through their E-store, which makes it easier for everyone to buy and plant trees.

As the webinar came to an end, the panelists stated that the next Convention on Climate Change will be critical as people are expecting concrete actions and not only words. This upcoming, crucial meeting will be expected to increase the countries’ ambitions and commitment toward climate change while also creating a communication space between citizens, organizations, and governments.

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The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) uses land given in-kind by the High Commissioner of Water and Forests and the Fight Against Desertification, local associations, and cooperatives around Morocco to establish organic fruit tree nurseries which provide sustainable projects for the local population and improve the economic situation of rural Moroccan families, especially those who depend on agriculture as a source of livelihood.

HAF currently manages with local partners 11 nurseries in seven provinces in Morocco. Each one had a unique story and process for its building. This blog will focus on two HAF nurseries in the Fes province: the Abdelaziz Center for the Protection of Children (CPC) and the University Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah (USMBA) nurseries.

The CPC houses minors between 12 and 18 years old who have been orphaned or are otherwise in difficult situations. The CPC works with each child to educate them in order to facilitate the process of their reintegration into society in a manner that suits their desires, abilities, and preferences, and facilitates their schooling and vocational rehabilitation.

The High Atlas Foundation follows a similar strategy as that set forth by the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture. As a civil organization working on sustainable development projects, we work to engage these youth in active projects. It is with this mission in mind that HAF partners with the Ministry and the “Association of Volunteer Experts,” a local NGO in Fes, since 2017. Together, the three established a 6000 m² nursery for organic fruit trees in the Abdelaziz  Center.

HAF continues to develop this nursery, building three greenhouses in the process in which 145,000 olive cuttings have been planted. The process of planting olive seedlings passes through many stages, starting with placing the olive cuttings in sandy ponds in December. After five or six months the seedlings are transferred into bags that are composed of high quality soil and compost. HAF nursery managers ensure proper irrigation to keep the saplings watered. HAF nurseries also produce 20,000 pomegranate seedlings, 20,000 fig seedlings, and more than 50,000 almond seedlings each year.

HAF projects that the CPC nursery will produce another 266,000 organic fruit trees in 2021 to meet the needs of the partnering farmers, association cooperatives, and schools.

In addition to building successful nurseries and hosting tree-planting activities, HAF’s vision includes the integration of youth at the center of development projects in the agricultural field, empowering them with technologies and strengthening their tree-planting process.

The youth of the CPC have a great opportunity to learn many things about biological agriculture, such as using natural fertilizer as opposed to chemical products, and the proper steps to plant trees. Additionally, they attend workshops on proper irrigation system techniques, how to take care for seedlings, how to remove weeds, and tree-grafting techniques.

HAF also hosts workshops about the environment and climate change, which is a global issue. Some solutions to this crisis lie in raising awareness, planting more trees, and working in sustainable, environmentally-friendly projects. HAF believes that establishing environmental awareness from an early age is everyone’s responsibility.

One of HAF’s long-term goals is to create job opportunities for these youth as well as hands-on training which helps them to learn about and practice biological agriculture, establish their own companies, or work within agricultural public or private institutions. Without these kinds of training, the youth will be socially marginalized and unable to find their place among their peers.

However, thanks to the programs set up by the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture to rehabilitate the youth and reintegrate them into society and the goals of HAF that focus on qualifying them in the agricultural field and enabling them to assume responsibility for their lives, we can guarantee the rights of these young people and help make them effective, productive members of society who contribute to the promotion of sustainable development in Morocco.

HAF’s principles reflect the idea that today’s child is the leader of tomorrow. Values and principles should be established during one’s childhood, one’s youth. Cooperation, commitment and discipline, as well as other values, form the basis of a responsible leader.

In 2019, in partnership with the University Sidi Mohamed ben Abdullah (USMBA) in Fes and the “Association of Volunteer Experts,” HAF established another organic fruit tree nursery at the Faculty of Islamic Theology. The nursery is on two hectares of land and includes 130,000 seedlings, 90,000 almond and 40,000 olive.

The aim of this new nursery is to provide high-quality organic fruit trees to farmers with limited financial capacity, and to encourage agricultural associations and cooperatives to preserve the natural heritage of fruit trees. Additionally, HAF will facilitate awareness-raising and training programs for students in sustainable development, the participatory approach, environment and climate change, and tree planting. It aims to plant trees alongside all institutions affiliated with USMBA in order to engage students in projects that have environmental, social, and economic impacts.

Although the nursery is still new, it has already provided work opportunities for dozens of women to support their families. These women remove weeds, fill bags with soil and compost, and plant olive cuttings or carob seeds. They are characterized by discipline and commitment. They are also detail-oriented, which is demonstrated by their attentiveness when planting seeds or removing weeds from the almond and olive seedlings.

HAF strongly upholds the belief that including women in agriculture is a very important factor in promoting sustainable development in Morocco.

The work on agricultural projects, whether with women, students, or youth in difficult situations, has an important impact on the development of our country. It’s not enough to simply raise their awareness. We must also build a space for them where they can practice what they learn. The key to cultivating a successful next generation of Moroccan families and leaders is to transform theory into real-life practice and application.

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We, the youth, have a vast and important role in development and nation-building. Societies that have a large percentage of youth are strong ones. This is reflected in the tremendous energy of young people, which clearly contributes to driving and managing global matters and development projects. Climate change is an example.

It is fair to say that our generation is making many changes in a world that faces more profound challenges than any generation in many decades. Positive changes are being made to advance quality education, gender equality, health, the fight against poverty, measures to address climate change, as well as decent work and economic growth. This does not mean the previous generations have not endeavored to solve these and other problems. We just have a priceless opportunity now, and we are up to the challenge. We are the best-educated generation and the most technologically savvy. We have been exposed to more knowledge and perspectives than any other generation. We are more entrepreneurial and environmentally conscious.

However, youth continue to be disproportionately affected by the world’s challenges. They are three times more likely to be jobless than adults. Many lack basic literacy and numeracy skills that would allow them to find jobs, and obstacles to education remain for many millions of young girls. The world’s 1.2 billion young people must be bolstered by robust national and global policies and innovative solutions to face the many profound challenges.

We can live a new transformation that is driven and designed by youth, acting to avoid the worst effects of major issues and matters, and to achieve universal prosperity. The High Atlas Foundation is opening its doors for all young people around the world in order to expand this transformation--through volunteerism. Our volunteers make impacts in programs which promote women’s empowermentcapacity-building, culture, education, agriculture (Farmer-To-Farmer), and clean water. Joining in this journey will contribute to raising youths’ ambitions to accomplish sustainable development and ensure a most fulfilling future for our generation and those to follow.

For more information on how to volunteer with HAF, email us at haf@highatlasfoundation.org.

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Natural human tendency is to create security in our lives by trying to keep things the same, but we need to keep in mind that we will face challenges in our lives, and we can learn from them even if it is difficult for us in the beginning. We need to adapt to the challenges that we face: life is a moving river, and we must, in our own way, learn to flow with it.

COVID-19 is a major health phenomenon that has attacked humanity. It has resulted in many deaths and has created stress due to problems without planning for this change. We need to flow with this change--and to have a powerful and strong personality to support ourselves and others that need us.

Due to the negative impacts of COVID-19 in rural Moroccan communities, especially in the mountains and for nomadic communities in the Sahara, in July 2020, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and the High Atlas Foundation collaborated and distributed essential nutrients and hygiene materials for 500 families, as well as 881 shoes,1,000 pens, and 500 notebooks for children in 4 provinces in Morocco (Azilal, Taroudant, Chichaoua, and Boujdour).

The goal of this social project is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help families in need at this difficult time.

The project includes also distributing 5,000 organic fruits trees for the farmers in those provinces in December 2020 and January 2021. The communities are very happy about receiving this symbolic donation because most of the families are widowed and divorced women (287 women). I witnessed firsthand the happiness in the eyes of the families and childrens.

I managed this social project from the beginning. I coordinated with local associations, and I heard the needs of these communities, but when I spent the night in the Tinfidin village of Azilal Province on July 22 for the social operation, I found they did not ask for much. They needed just the essential items to live. The community lives without water in their homes, so the women wake up early to bring it from its source, walking the unpaved road. I saw a few walnut, fig, and carob trees in great condition and few parcels of land. However, youth typically leave the village and migrate to the cities due to lack of work and activities.

In my view, the communities of this village and in other villages need to give the first priority to education and to create sustainable projects by using the natural resources that they have and through the support of civil society and all the sectors related to creating socioeconomic projects.

On behalf of they High Atlas Foundation, we would like to thank Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy for supporting this project as well as the project that we implemented together in Boujdour in 2018 concerning cleaning drinking water for nomadic communities  and an environmental campaign for the schools and beach of Awziouat in Boujdour. We would like also to thank all the local associations and authorities that supported us to implement this very important social project.

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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
New York City, NY United States
$48,996 raised of $100,000 goal
 
736 donations
$51,004 to go
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