Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 2010 promoting local culture and sustainable initiatives through education and the integration of scientific ingenuity in Southwest Morocco. We operate North Africa's largest fog harvesting project, providing villages with access to potable water. Our Water School and Girls' E-Learning Programs build capacity in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Through our Ethnographic Field School, researchers and students engage with local communities in Agadir, Sidi Ifni, and the rural Aït Baamrane region for meaningful cross-cultural exchange.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Capacity Building Program Beneficiaries: Atlas NGO for Development and Social Cooperation

This past December 2019, Dar Si Hmad organized a get-together for all the participating NGOs of the Capacity Building program, launched in October 2018, and that Dar Si Hmad ran for 10 months.

Although the meeting focused on the achievements of the organizations since the end of the training, and also future possible collaborations amongst the NGOs, we also wanted to give the organizations the opportunity to present their work to Dar Si Hmad’s followers.

Boujemaa Ben Haya, a member of Atlas NGO for Development & Social Cooperation

The answers below are the responses from Boujemaa Ben Haya, a member of Atlas NGO for Development and Social Cooperation.

 When was your NGO founded and what is your main area of activity?

Our NGO was founded in 2000. And it has since then been working on development. We work to make multiple cultural, educational and sports projects successful.

How did you learn about Dar Si Hmad Capacity Building Program for NGOs? And why did you apply for it?

We learned about it through social media and we immediately applied for it because we desperately wanted to grow and empower our organization. We also knew that this program would be an ideal opportunity to talk about our experiences with the other participating NGOs.

How did your organization benefit from this training?

The training sessions taught us important skills and techniques that we have applied to our organization’s management, they have been impactful. And once again, having the chance to meet all these committed people from different NGOs and exchange with them also benefited us enormously.

What are your NGO’s new year’s resolutions for 2020?

Since its founding, the organization has worked on important development projects. And as part of its annual program for 2020, big goals were set in development, social, and educational fields. The first one is our road paving project and our project of providing drinking water to the communities we serve. We also are planning educational and recreational programs to benefit school students.

Do you see any future possible collaborations working with Dar Si Hmad on a project?

Considering that Dar Si Hmad is a pioneer in terms of creating partnerships with global non-governmental organizations, we hope that we will have the opportunity to partner with them too to gain support for our organization's projects.

Atlas NGO for Development and Social Cooperation is one of our beneficiaries that showed dedication and improved the services they offer in their region. We are so proud to learn that our Capacity Building program helped them empower their organization even more.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

DSH highlights of February 2020

As Dar Si Hmad spent last January laying the foundation for many exciting projects for this year, February was marked by the bustling movement in and out of the office.

Below are some of the highlights of February 2020:

On February the 3rd, three professors from Quinnipiac university joined Dar Si Hmad as part of our Ethnographic Field School. Their visit was filled with informative stops. From exploring the staggering Cité de l’innovation and understanding the agriculture and water issue relation at the APEFEL, to feasting on organic food that has grown in a permaculture farm that surged in the middle of Guelmim desert, to finally hiking to our fog harvesting site and witnessing water production from fog.

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Right after their departure, our executive director and EFS manager moved to Marrakech in order to meet with a group of students from Lewis & Clark college and guide them around CIPA, the crossroad of agro-ecological initiatives and practices, in the suburbs of the city. These students are presently with us, to fulfill a part of their study-abroad program.
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The next highlight of last February was the visit of three young explorers to our office. With an aim of promoting scientific research in the field of sustainable development, they had Dar Si Hmad fog project documented, before heading to Domaine Nzaha for permaculture near Guelmim, that also worked its magic on them.
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The following visit to our office was of a group of students from the SIT, School for International Training in Rabat. Their Stop in Dar Si Hmad gave them the opportunity to hear about the harvesting fog project and also to meet our Ethnographic Field School manager, Ms.Perry Demarche, who is an alum of the same Journalism and New Media SIT program.
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The following day, the 21st of February, Ms.Khadija Benhami, the head of the partnerships and cooperations department in the Provincial Delegation of Education in Agadir, came in the company of a teacher and the principles of two schools that are prominent for the environmental education they give. Many common issues were tackled during the meeting we had, and a more active cooperation was programmed for the future.
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The last week of the month was however the busiest. On Tuesday the 25th, we had Mr.Adam Bouhadma, the CEO of the educational platform 9rayti.com, hosted in Ibn Maja high school, an institution with which we coordinate to activate both our Rise program for this term and their environmental club. During his visit, Mr.Bouhadma answered some students’ inquiries on studying to achieve their personal and professional goals. This session was particularly interesting for the IT enthusiasts.

Two days later, a former intern in Dar Si Hmad, and one of the Environmental Youth Ambassadors, came back to the organization, this time as a member of 3W Academy to lead a programming workshop that benefited more than 25 students. On the same day, we had members from the social club of the National School of Commerce and Management collect some food DSH donated for the humanitarian caravan those students were organizing. We were so happy to see them grateful for our act.
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Friday after, we had our first session of Ljamae Azgzaw, our new monthly event that aims at raising people’s awareness on environmental issues especially in Agadir. In its first appearance, we had the staff of Surfrider Foundation Maroc animate a workshop on climate change and the relation between the ocean and the climate. This session has exceptionally stirred the tensions of the attendees who all felt concerned about the climate crisis.
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Besides these high points that made of February 2020 a special month in DSH, our steady big projects still are continuously running to fulfill the number 1 aim of the organization.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Capacity Building Program Beneficiaries: FIKR NGO

On December 28TH 2019, Dar Si Hmad organized a get- together for the organsations and association which  benefited from our Capacity Building program. This initiative provided training and guidance for NGOs in Southwest Morocco. Marouane Ijioui and Hassan Idouhan from the Ifni-based association FIKR attended the event and answered some of our questions, giving you insights on how their NGO functions
Marouane Ijioui, the president of Fikr NGO
Below is a translation of our discussion:

Q: When was your NGO founded and what is your main area of activity?

A: Fikr was founded in 2013 and it works mainly in Cultural activities.

Q: How did you learn about Dar Si Hmad’s Capacity Building Program for NGOs? And why did you apply for it?

A: We learned about it through a friend and for us, it was an opportunity since we knew that the training was meant to empower NGOs active in different fields, including culture –which was what was relevant to us.

Q: How did your organization benefit from this training?

A:  This training taught us a lot and made several concepts become very clear for us.  All this in the end helped us tremendously in becoming a very active NGO in the province of Sidi Ifni.

Q: What are your NGO’s new year’s resolutions for 2020?

A:  We aim to attain two main goals: Revitalizing the cultural scene of Sidi Ifni and empowering future leaders.

Q: Do you see any future possible collaborations working with Dar Si Hmad on a project?

A: Of course! After all, we both work within the field of Culture and in Sidi Ifni which makes a collaboration between our organizations a very likely event.

Dar Si Hmad was delighted to see  Marouane and Hassan again at this get-together – they even showed us a video summarizing all the amazing work they’ve accomplished since the Capacity Building program. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

DSH Highlights of January 2020

Dar Si Hmad kicked off 2020 with the return of our Executive Director, Jamila Bargach, from the Oak Institute of Human Rights at Colby College. Energized by her return, Dar Si Hmad has already had a busy start to the new year and has laid the foundation for many exciting projects for the upcoming months.

Here are some highlights from this past month:

  • Dar Si Hmad was nominated for the « Terre De Femmes» prize from the Yves Rocher Foundation. The prize recognizes the achievements of women in promoting biodiversity efforts. This month, representatives from the Foundation came to learn about and film our work in both Agadir and Ifni. 
  • We are currently working on connecting a 16th village to the fog water system. This month we achieved several milestones with the procedural work that is necessary for extending the project and providing the Taloust Valley with fog water. 
  • With our educational programs, we ran hands-on lessons on permaculture both in Agadir high schools and in schools near our fog project in Aït Baamrane. These programs encouraged students to reflect on their own consumption habits and the environmental impact of these habits. 
  • We hosted many specialists and consultants at our pedagogical permaculture farm. These specialists helped us develop long-term plans for our farm and specifically discussed strategies for restoring the top soil. 
  • On January 13th, Dar Si Hmad participated in a celebration of the new Amazigh new year (2970), organized by students from Ibn Zohr University. As part of this event, we held an art exposition featuring paintings from our Rhizomes Arts Artistic Residency that took place last September. 
  • Finally, we are in the process of preparing for our 2020 Ethnographic Field School programs. We will be hosting a group of professors from Quinnipiac University in February, and a group from Lewis and Clark University this March. Our Executive Director and Ethnographic Field School Manager have already visited a permaculture farm with the Lewis and Clark students as part of their Marrakech-based program, and the students will soon be joining us for a full program in Ifni and Agadir!
Dar Si Hmad has kicked of 2020 with many projects, and we are excited to see what else is in store for the new year! Stay tuned for our annual report recapping all of 2019.  

Friday, January 24, 2020

DSH, an eco-friendly working space: Minimizing electricity consumption

Dar Si Hmad NGO supports its environmental mission with changes in its own working space. Among the many decisions that our organization took to contribute to the world’s big climate movement, even though in a small way, is the minimization of electricity use in the office. Thus, we have adopted three main measures in order to make our work place more eco-friendly.

To start with, Dar Si Hmad replaced the incandescent light bulbs in the office with led light bulbs. The latter aren’t only more environmental-friendly, but they also have a longer life cycle, use less energy, produce less heat and are safer as they contain no mercury. On a published article on the Energy Saver governmental website, it was cited that “Residential LEDs -- especially ENERGY STAR rated products -- use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting”. Hence, the led light bulbs in our office are both durable and energy-cost savers. And above all, we rarely have to turn the lights on in the work place since it is generally naturally illuminated.

All rooms in Dar Si Hmad contain large windows that keep them full of light during the day time, a reason why we don’t frequently run for artificial light. In fact, this wouldn’t have been possible if we didn’t supply the windows with second glass panes that protect the place from the cold and stormy weather all by  allowing the sun rays to reach the inside of the office when the outside wood panes are completely open.

The third step Dar Si Hmad follows to make its office more eco-friendly is by unplugging the appliances that are not being used. On October 2019, The New York Times pointed out statistics from the Natural Resources Defense Council that say that the cost of plugged-in but not used devices is about $165 per household, or $19 billion across the U.S. That amounts to about 44 million tons of carbon dioxide, or 4.6% of the country’s total residential electricity generation.

All in all, it appears that controlling the electricity consumption in the workplace isn’t only ecological, but  also more economical.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

DSH, an eco-friendly working space: Replacing single-use items

For a non-governmental organization that promotes environmental justice, having an eco-friendly work space is a prerequisite. For Dar Si Hmad, going green translates to many different practices. Among these, replacing single-use items tops the list.

As Dar Si Hmad frequently hosts groups of students and researchers in its work space as part of the Ethnographic Field School (EFS) and the Language and Research Center (CELAR), our organization makes sure to equip its kitchen with reusable utensils. These reduce the amount of waste produced in the office, and also promote litter-less lunches among the staff.

Since staff know that they will always find all the necessary kitchen utensils they need during their lunch break, they do not order food from nearby restaurants or cafes, where their coffee would be served in plastic cup, for example. In addition, the organic waste from food and drink in the office becomes compost that we use to fertilize the land of the pedagogical farm Dar Si Hmad is revitalizing in Boutmezguida.

Dar Si Hmad also applies this green mentality in the office by going paper-free. Spills can only be found in the kitchen, since it is the only area where staff are allowed to eat, and Dar Si Hmad opts for micro-fiber cloths to clean, as they can be reused multiple times, a decision that is both more ecological and more affordable.

Dar Si Hmad also reduces paper waste by supplying the workplace with multiple white boards. These erasable boards minimize the use of paper during brainstorming sessions, especially since staff hold many meetings to develop project ideas and create program content. Once the work is done, the essential notes are transferred to computer software. 

Another way our office reduces paper use is our printing policy. At Dar Si Hmad, printing is only allowed for external communications, namely administrative communications. Besides this, if any activity within the organization requires hard copies, we make sure to print on both sides and even print on old, used papers that still have a blank side.

In a world where the climate is heavily impacted by every day practices, Dar Si Hmad believes that by adjusting their small habits within the organization’s office, they are contributing in a small way to the global movement.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Closing of a Cycle

For these past three months, we have invited our readers and followers to meet and know of the personal experiences of the current Dar Si Hmad staff. Each person spoke of how their day is composed, what their challenges are and how they manage these challenges. As the co-founder of Dar Si Hmad and its director, I feel privileged to work with all these individuals and I especially treasure the fact we embody the spirit of civil society at its best. We believe in our mission of helping vulnerable communities learn and prosper; that is we are the bridge for the communities we service, from the villages in the Ait Baâmrane, the high-schoolers of Agadir or the University students, to gain from possibilities of growth that may not be easily accessible to them otherwise. As we prepare for our 10th anniversary in April 2020, we tally how many lives we have positively impacted and we feel proud, happy and yet humble. Humble because we have been trusted by these people who opened their lives and hearts for us. Happy and proud because the good work we have delivered has had a return. Students, volunteers, interns, community members all have given us the immense pleasure of infusing life and spirit into Dar Si Hmad mission. As we prepare for our next blog-series and for our continuing community-engagement, this is to the team of Dar Si Hmad and to everyone to have worked, learned, and supported our activities.