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Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans

by High Atlas Foundation
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans

Greetings Friends,


Here we have a final moment in 2018 where we can give to uplift the course of families, communities, schools, cooperatives, women's groups, and youth.


Morocco is creating opportunities for its people by encouraging through its policies and programs public participation in all aspects of development. For local communities of the nation to fulfill this enormous opening for transformative change, also means that Morocco can become a hugely important model for other countries of Africa and the Middle East.


Here is one action we can take now together to fulfill this hope:


It is amazing the varied and profound benefits of organic fruit tree planting.  It promotes livelihoods, the environment, food security, nutrition, trade, culture, and self-reliance. It promotes women's liberationyouth’s advancement, and - when we organic certify their cultivation - tree planting brings growth and justice to communities that are marginalized.


Plant with us now before the season ends in March. Together we can achieve these truly good outcomes for people and nature, and to realize Moroccan dreams.


Most of all, we at the High Atlas Foundation wish you health, success, joy, fulfillment, and all that your heart seeks for yourselves and communities.


With warm regards and gratitude,


Yossef Ben-Meir
High Atlas Foundation



Traveling to the Bouchan commune was my first field visit with the High Atlas Foundation (HAF), when I was a volunteer in 2016. I had the chance again this year to take part in the tree-planting event and an environmental workshop with local farmers from the same village at the school. The weather was beautiful that day, sunny and warm enough to do more activities with the students and the Rhamna communities. While we drove to the school, I noticed that the nature around Rhamna Province looks more green this year compared to the last year that I had been there with the HAF team. The farmers already planted their fields with barley and wheat and many of them started planting trees in their lands, and HAF was a part of that, by distributing thousands of trees to the Rhamna communities and schools.


This year as well, HAF will organize more tree planting events to plant more trees, as we had today with the student and the school staff. Together, we brought the seedlings from the car to the school garden. Then we went to a classroom with the school director to visit the students in their class and share with them more information about the environment and the importance of trees in our lives. Errachid, HAF Project Manager, started the environmental workshop with the students, and they were very creative with the answers and the way they explained their thoughts. I was very happy listening to the kids telling us how they are a part of the environment where they live; most of them already had the chance to plant the trees with their families, as most of Rhmana is rural, and most of the student are helping their families in agricultural activities.


After, Errachid, members of the HAF team, and volunteers listened and talked to the kids, we moved again to the square to plant some of the aromatic and medicinal plant. More than 50 students—girls and boys—joined the HAF team, an amazing volunteer from the US, and Privet University of Marrakech (UPM) students in the square to plant trees and make it more green and beautiful. We dug the holes together, then we planted and watered the plants. Everyone wanted to offer a hand and be a part of the planting. While some planted, the others kept watching to learn how to plant more later in the school or somewhere else.


We discussed with the kids further about their school and their visions, and how they want their school to be in the future. The students were excited too to talk and to express their feelings about the day. After that, the school received more guests; they were some of the parents of the student and local association, which we planned to meet on the same day as well.


The school break was from 12:30 to 13:30; at that time, we went with the parents and the association members to a classroom to start another workshop about the environment, using the participatory approach. We started by introducing everyone to each other, then Errachid started again by asking the participants about their environment knowledge, and, as they are residents of that village, how they are affected by the environment, positively or negatively. The farmers and the association members, one by one, shared their thoughts with us on their needs in the village and what they are looking to change in their village. Moreover, they talked about their environmental challenges and how they can solve them.


Environmental education is about teaching the values, attitudes, skills and perceptions necessary to understand and appreciate the complex relationships that connect communities and their lives with their physical biosphere. Furthermore, environmental education emphasizes the need to preserve natural environmental resources and the rational utilization of them for the benefit humans and maintaining their standards of living.


When it comes to environmental protection, prevention is much cheaper and more effective than treatment. Damage caused by degradation of the environment cannot normally be reversed. Biodiversity cannot be restored to equilibrium again or it cannot be fully restored. Efforts must, above all, be focused on the protection of global biological resources, and the prevention of their exploitation.


Clearly, environmental education requires modifying behavior as well as addressing environmental problems by training people to participate and develop environmental awareness with positive values and commitments to protect and improve the environment. In effect, this education will prepare a generation to be responsible for its natural and social environment.


HAF and the Moroccan communities would like to thank the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) for its support to help educate young people about the environment in Morocco.


Partner to implement this project.

The beauty of Morocco exists not only in the big cities but also in the charming villages of the countryside. Many villages and residential communities are scattered along the Atlas Mountain range, from the south-west of the country to the far east, and the activities vary from one region to the other. Nevertheless, they share many activities and practices.

Since 2000, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) has been trying to reach and visit as many villages in Morocco as it can, to work with communities to improve development by creating sustainable projects using different methods of communication.


HAF did a lot of work across the High Atlas Mountains, in Al Haouz, Ouarzazate, Taroudant, Errachidia, and in the Fès-Meknes region. The Delegation of Education in Ifrane is one important partner of HAF in the Fès-Meknes region. Together they decided to build fruitful partnerships and facilitate communication between all development actors in the Ifrane. Two years after this decision Ifrane’s Delegation of Education and HAF are very proud of the successful implementation of two fruit tree nurseries in the Assalam school and in the Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane. Driven by this success Ifrane’s Delegation of Education and HAF are now planning to expand this project and build another tree nursery in one of the schools of Ain Leuh, a small town located in the center of the Middle Atlas Mountains, about 1450 meters in altitude, and about 28 kilometers from Azrou.


Said Bennani and the HAF nursery caretaker in Ifrane nurseries traveled from Ifrane to Ain Leuh to visit the schools and meet local communities. We were welcomed warmly by a local teacher of Atlas primary school in Ain Leuh. The teacher was happy to talk with us about her village and the primary school she studied in, when she was a little girl! Now she is a prominent woman in her town - she in not only a teacher but also a leader and contact person for all women in the region, who face challenges. The teacher did not hesitate to show us most of the school parts and share with us information about the history and the students who are studying there. 


The school was established a long time ago, likely in 1923. It is quite large with 12 classrooms, and new ones have yet to be completed. Moreover, they have free space that they can utilize, if they gave it more attention. We also saw existing trees in the school, while we were there. They had many local types of fruit trees as well as some forestry trees. Moreover, the free land they have is not quite big enough to think about building a new fruit tree nursery. Nevertheless, the teacher spoke on behalf of many local actors there—cooperativesassociations, and the agriculture center—who are working together to make their primary school shinier and engaging the community in the development of their own projects. In addition, HAF are looking as well to join this group of actors to talk more about their interest and the possibilities of how we can create more development projects in the communities. In the school, they have a water canal passing its square, plus a local small well. In addition, the teacher said that they are interested in putting an aromatic and medicinal plants nursery in the school. They have bathrooms and a library with books, which gives me the impression that there are some people in that school or somewhere in the village that are looking to give more to Ain Leuh.


On the same day, I had the chance to visit a local cooperative, which makes wool carpets.  In 2015, while I was a volunteer with the agriculture office in Marrakech, I worked with the same cooperative to accompany a group of women from Al Haouz, to visit many sites, in the north of Morocco, granting them more opportunities to learn from different experiences. I remembered the first time I visited them and how they were very active collective women making a variety of beautiful handmade wool carpets.


At the same time, I remembered one of the women from the same cooperative in Ain Leuh visited the HAF office two years ago, when I was a volunteer with HAF. In addition, she participated with Amina EL Hajjami, the HAF Project Manager for Women’s Cooperatives, in visits from the north of Morocco to the South. I visited again the women’s workshop for wool carpets as HAF Project Manager in Fes and Ifrane region. We talked about their challenges, and the future of the cooperative, as well as how they continue to grow the cooperative. Their first interest was looking for help to repair their workplace because the water used to leak inside of the building, preventing them from working comfortably during the rainy and snowy season. They said, “When it is raining, we are not working! Each one of us prefer to stay home.” HAF is looking to help cooperatives like these to solve their problems—community mapping is the best way to achieve this by engaging all the cooperative members.      


My last activity before returning to Fez was the visit I had to the Salam School fruit tree nursery.  We met with Al Akhawayn university students and the new director of the school to make plans to organize a tree planting event with the local schools and communities in the next two months. Thank you to all HAF partners in Ifrane and Fes region, thank you to Ecosia who founded the fruit tree nursery for the Moroccan communities.  

Eco-Friendly Public Transport in Safi

The urban commune of Safi announced that it would be introducing eco-friendly buses into the city from 1st January 2019. 45 new buses, which are engineered in Germany and tailored for those with special mobility needs will join the fleet in the new year. The buses will also have WiFi and CCTV on board.

The city hopes to increase the number of new buses to 135 by 2024.

Read more:


€117m Invested into Sustainable Drinking Water Access

On 7th November, the African Development Bank approved financing of €117m to enhance the security and sustainability of Moroccan people’s access to safe drinking water. The bank states that this investment is a strategic contribution, due to water being the foundation and starting point for sustainable development.

The beneficiary provinces will be Guercif, Zagora, Tangier, Al Hoceima and Beni Mellal, impacting over 2.5m people.

Read more:


Morocco Makes Good Progress on SDGs Related to Food Security and Climate Change

The Economic Commission for Africa’s most recent report found that Morocco has integrated the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their development strategies, and has done particularly well in relation to climate change and food security.

However, the report also recommends that national priorities are realigned to meet the SDGs across the board, as the Maghreb region faces many complex challenges including industrial transition and youth unemployment. Morocco should also strive to integrate and form partnerships between NGOs, the private sector, government and civil society.

Read more:


Morocco Launches Campaign to Combat Harassment of Women

On Saturday 10th November, the Moroccan online movement #Masaktach (I won’t be silent) calls for women in Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakech to carry a whistle with them, and to use them if they are harassed in public or on transport. 

The movement was started after widespread outrage over cases of gender-based violence in the country and is helping to shed light on the extent of sexual harassment of women in Morocco.

Morocco’s government recently introduced a law, effective from 12th September 2018, aiming to eliminate violence against women and giving prison sentences of between 1 & 6 months to sexual harassers in public places. Nevertheless, incidences of discrimination and violence in the country remains high.

Read more:


Marrakech Plays Host to Global Environment Facility’s International Waters Conference

Between 5-8th November, the 9th International Waters Conference (IWC), organised by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) will be held in Marrakech. 300 participants from 80 countries are expected to attend, representing GEF project managers, beneficiary nation representatives, NGOs, UN agencies and the private sector.

2018’s theme is Sustaining International Waters Co-operation, aiming to promote water sustainability and to share best practices.

Read more:


Africities Youth Forum to be Held in Marrakech

Africities Summit Youth Forum, an event which takes place every three years will be held this year in Marrakech, with an expected 5000 attendees from Africa and the African diaspora.

2018’s theme is centred on the role of local and subnational African governments in the transition towards sustainable cities, placing a special focus on the role of youth in achieving this.

Participants will include leaders, city officials, the private sector, academia and development partners, among others, and is supported by UN Habitat and UNESCO.

The event will take place between 20-24th November.

Read more:


Manon is a post-graduate student of Human Ecology at Lund University, Sweden

A typical day’s work for the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) varies greatly depending on the role of a staff member, the region of Morocco in which they work, and projects that are being planned, prepared to be implemented, or that are currently being administered. During any given day, organic fruit trees are being delivered to and planted in communities; tree nursery infrastructure and cleaning drinking water systems are being constructed; youth and women are being trained in skills building or engaging in activities that result in economic prosperity; communication with our national and international partners, Moroccan government officials, as well as communities is being coordinated to further human development; efforts are being made to secure funding to continue sustainable projects; and HAF staff is utilizing the participatory approach when meeting with community members in various provinces jumpstarting, assisting, or following up with previous projects.


October 9, 2018 was a particularly eventful day for HAF. Our Board of Directors, based in the United States, came to Morocco to not only discuss HAF’s current course of action and project sustainability strategies but also to visit the communities with which HAF works. Board member, a retired legal aid lawyer who spent 43 years providing free legal services in New York City to people living in poverty, said of his experience: “It was eye opening to see the various sites that we visited to learn firsthand of the challenges and the benefits of the projects that HAF is working on.” Board member, a retired international banker and current part time financial consultant, reiterated this point:


“The visits to the two nurseries—one at the Jewish cemetery site, gave me the opportunity to view not only the nursery but also the symbiotic relationship between both the cultural and the agricultural pillar of the organization. The second visit to the National Forest where HAF plants organic fruit trees, again, gave me an overview of not only the nursery but also the partnership with the government of Morocco. Also, our visit to the women’s cooperative focused on our objective of the empowerment of women and the accomplishments of both educational socialization and economic improvement in women’s lives.”


            One of the Board members is a highly experienced international development professional, having dedicated 28 years to Peace Corps—first as a Volunteer in Liberia (1972-76) and later as Director of Peace Corps Morocco, in addition to having held several other executive Peace Corps roles across Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, Asia, and the South Pacific. She reported feeling “impressed” with HAF and our projects. Describing her thoughts further.


“I appreciate the diversification of the projects, including women’s empowerment and sustainable water such as irrigation and potable water sources for communities; also HAF’s overall philosophy of helping improve the quality of their lives through community participation. As a current board member and long term supporter of HAF since its inception, I’m very proud to see the continuation and the sustainability of the initial projects, which were all agricultural and tree planting, and HAF reaching incredible vaults: first planting 1 million trees and, then, a higher level of 1 billion trees, nationally.” Board member


After a day of visiting tree nurseries, a women’s cooperative, and a walnut production cooperative in the Marrakech region, HAF’s Board of Directors and staff hosted an event, “Fulfilling Moroccan Development Visions.” This reception, which was dedicated to discussing past, current, and future sustainable development efforts in Morocco, brought together 180 attendees committed to advancing human development in the country. Moroccan local government officials, farming families, cooperative members, current Peace Corps Morocco volunteers, representatives of nonprofit organizations as well as representatives from the U.S. Consulate—including Consul General Jennifer Rasamimanana and Political-Economic Chief Sasha Suderow—gathered from 8:00pm to 10:00pm at Mohammed VI Museum for the Water Civilization in Morocco. As HAF Project Manager Errachid Montassir said, “Organizing events, conferences, and receptions is always a great opportunity to expand the network and come up with many positive results.”


The event began with opening remarks by Ms. Fatima Zahra Laaribi, HAF’s Women’s Empowerment Trainer and Financial Manager. Following, Mr. Abderrahim Gahwan, the President of Ait Taleb Municipality of Rhamna, shared how HAF not only helped his community but also his personal development. For example, he credits learning the participatory approach from HAF for leading him to his position as President and for leading successful projects in Ait Taleb. Similarly, Ms. Rachida Outichki, the President of the Aboghlou Women’s Cooperative of Ourika, discussed how participating in HAF’s women’s empowerment training built her and her female peers’ capacities to talk about themselves and pursue projects. Aboghlou is a successful cooperative that exports calendula (a Moroccan medicinal herb) to L’Oreal in France and sells food products such as couscous.


HAF staff took to the podium as well. Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, HAF co-founder and President, led a moving conversation on the progress of development in Morocco and the necessary means to further advance economic prosperity, livelihoods, and gender equality. Dr. Ben-Meir explained how HAF contributes to a vision for development in Morocco occurring now and in the future, but it is the local people who ultimately turn each of their own visions into reality and sustain the impacts. He effectively elicited motivation from Moroccan attendees who, during the “open mic” segment of the event, “wonderfully expressed their visions and brought up good project ideas,” as Mr. Montassir described. Dr. Ben-Meir also encouraged university students and younger generations to continue development in their communities and to implement projects not only for themselves and their families but also for future generations. Said El Bennani, HAF Project Manager in Fes and Ifrane, seconded this notion. “Youth participation in development means a lot. Without youth, we are not working forward in development.” One primary school-aged girl sitting in the audience announced the pride she has in having participated in the annual tree planting event led by HAF this past January.


As a HAF board member eloquently said, “[Fulfilling Moroccan Development Visions] was very inspiring. It brought together different cultures and backgrounds. From one end of the spectrum—the U.S. board members, with a global vision and global perspective—to the individual students, women cooperative members, and farmers who also attended the presentations. Everybody was focused on the same cause, which is to improve the lives of the Moroccan citizenry.”


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Organization Information

High Atlas Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @haffdtn
Project Leader:
Yossef Ben-Meir
President of the High Atlas Foundation
Gueliz - Marrakech, Morocco
$25,714 raised of $50,000 goal
237 donations
$24,286 to go
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