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.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Dar Si Hmad May 2021 Highlights

It’s already mid-June, and you are wondering if Dar Si Hmad keeps any highlights from the previous month? Yes, of course it does! 

The following events stood out of our NGO’s usual activities:

  • Le jardin vert’: a gardening program Dar Si Hmad launched at Moulay Driss High School in Sidi Ifni. This initiative aims at educating the high schoolers about the importance of maintaining their school environment through the integration of the students in the gardening activities of the school-yard spaces. The larger goal is ecological education and teaching young pupils to develop their sense of volunteering and civic engagement.

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  • A young ambitious couple, the founders of IZIProtéine startup in Agadir, came to our premises to pitch their project in front of Dar Si Hmad staff. A future collaboration with IZIProtéine is under study. The biofertilizers they produce can be of a great added value to the soil of Agdal Id Aachour pedagogical farm and the farmer-communities that DSH has the pleasure to work with.

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  • 3 sessions from the ECO Mill edition of the RISE program were organized throughout May 2021. PROTOTYPING, TESTING and  PITCHING modules were covered in three consecutive weekends by amazing and generous coaches. The closing ceremony of this program was held on the 12th of June, come see it next month and in the meantime do check our social media pages to see the pictures from the event.

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  • The preparations for this year’s Summer Tech Camp were another highlight of May 2021. This year’s edition was made possible by a supporting grant from the British Council.  And TERN – The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network, based in England is our partner. This program goes under the auspices of the ‘Leadership for Gender Equality’ program of the British Council .

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  • At the end of the month, 6 student-groups from the Business Department of the Ait Melloul Campus, Ibn Zohr University, paid us a visit at Dar Si Hmad’s office as they expressed their interest in discovering our NGO and its project management models when their teacher Dr. Affaf Amrani, a DSH friend and volunteer, spoke about civic engagement. Our staff was pleased to welcome and respond to the questions of the ambitious and budding students.

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Follow @darsihmad on Twitter and Instagram, and Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture on Facebook and LinkedIn and stay updated about our everyday accomplishments!

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The UN 2020 Water and Climate Change report summary - Chapter 13: Technological Innovation and Citizen Knowledge

The thirteenth chapter of the UN 2020 Water and Climate Change report highlights the importance of advancing technological innovation and citizen knowledge to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

The report points to six aspects of science, technology, and innovation that are rapidly evolving: “i) overall assessment and monitoring of water resources and hydrological processes; ii) conservation, recovery and reuse of water resources; iii) adaptation of infrastructures; iv) cost reduction in treatment and distribution processes; v) efficiency of water supply delivery and use; and vi) access to safe drinking water and sanitation.”

Some of these innovations include earth observation, advanced sensor technologies, and information and communication technologies. Earth observation from satellite-based space technologies are able to collect data on weather, climate, and the evolution of water resources around the world. Remote sensing conducted through these satellites can track larger evolutions such as land use change that traditional technology cannot observe. Advanced sensor technologies provide online and real-time monitoring of water availability and quality, which can inform smart water management. This technology can, for example, detect chemical leakages and inform adequate responses. Information and communication technologies include storing data on a shared cloud, artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning, and the internet of things, which are every-day objects connected to the internet (e.g. a water meter with sensors to detect water consumption). Such technologies improve the analysis and interpretation of existing data. The report states that the internet of things can be particularly useful in rural areas, who otherwise have limited means to collect data.

These technological innovations are notable, but they need to be better integrated in decision-making practices. Currently, there is a science-policy gap due to the limited political will and financial and human resources to process, analyze, and present how data can be understood and used by decision makers. 

While decision makers take their time to fill the science-policy gap, the public have options to empower themselves in Free Open Source Software (FOSS) and voluntary action. In countries where accessing such innovative technology is costly, FOSS is a cheap and increasingly popular technology. FOSS allows for users to crowdsource and share relevant data, which can, for example, contribute to early warning systems and validate flood forecasting models. Access to FOSS can empower even the most marginalized populations, including youth, women, the poor, and those in rural areas. Additionally, voluntary action that increases awareness also increases citizen action. There are, for example, climate change guidebooks that promote citizen participation and citizen science projects. An example of this is EarthWatch’s ‘FreshWater Watch,’ which engages the communities it serves to gather samples of freshwater for those samples to be analyzed for quality, pollution, and wildlife. 

The chapter concludes by stressing the importance of science, decision-making, and public participation in creating the most effective and informed mitigation and adaptation measures. 

Written by: Gari DeRamros, Dar Si Hmad's former intern

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The UN 2020 Water and Climate Change report summary - Chapter 12: Climate Finance, Financial and Economic Considerations

 The UN 2020 Water and Climate Change report provides a plethora of recommendations to prevent and alleviate the water-related effects of climate change, but a major barrier to actualizing these recommendations is financing. Water resources management is incredibly under financed. To meet only the first two targets of SDG 6 (ensure all have access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene), capital investments must reach US$114 billion per year, which is triple current investments in this infrastructure. To finance the remaining four targets of SDG 6 – which include improving water quality, increasing treated wastewater, improving water efficiency, integrating water resources management, and protecting water-related ecosystems – would require even more capital investment than is currently available. 

The report attributes this lack of financing largely to a ‘business as usual’ mindset, which ignores the risks of climate change and results in a failure to invest in water management. Relevant actors need to consider preventative action and evaluate the risk of not financing in water infrastructure. 

Water management typically depends on traditional sources of financing from the government and development finance, but there are opportunities in climate finance. In 2016, only 2.6% of climate financing went to water management, despite water management benefits for other sectors. 

The report points out two promising trends that may increase climate financing for water projects. First, the increased recognition of water projects’ mitigation potential. 93.8% of climate financing in 2016 went to mitigation, so water projects that also mitigate climate change can more likely access this funding. Second, climate finance is moving towards funding more adaptation measures. For example, the Green Climate Fund is aiming for 50% of its funds to go to mitigation measures and the remaining 50% go to adaptation measures. 

Water projects requesting funding must make themselves appear bankable, or likely to receive funding. Bankable projects are those clearly linked to climate change impacts and are familiar and compliant with funding procedures. Projects that are considered bankable in climate finance explicitly address the causes and/or consequences of climate change. Adaptation projects in particular must also demonstrate their ability to withstand projected climate impacts in the area using scientific evidence. Finally, bankable projects are those that align with already existing policies such as a country’s National Adaptation Plan (per the Paris Agreement) or national development strategies. 

Types of climate financing options

No-regret investments: These investments produce projects that are beneficial regardless of climate impacts, meaning there are gains made in the absence of climate change. Such projects include rainwater harvesting, sustainable groundwater management, improved water storage, wastewater reuse.

Low-regret investments: These investments offset climate risks at a cost, but the cost is small in comparison to benefits from avoiding future losses. Low-regret investments are usually adaptation and resilience-building projects that bring co-benefits to multiple sectors. 

Results-based climate financing: These funds are dispersed once the project achieves pre-determined goals that have been independently verified. These funds typically go projects that improve things already in place like monitoring, reporting and verification capacity, strengthening domestic institutions, or mobilizing the private sector. Since carbon emissions are a well-defined indicator, most results-based investments have been made in climate mitigation projects. 

The Green Climate Fund: Established as the financing mechanism for the Paris Agreement, the Green Climate Fund helps developing countries with projects to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Although the Fund’s goal was to have US$100 billion per year in pledges, it only had US$10.3 billion in 2019. Most of the Fund’s investment priorities involve water management. 

The Global Environment Facility: The Facility, which acts as the financing mechanism for the UNFCCC, provides grants for environmental projects including but not limited to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Since 1992, it has funded around 1,000 mitigation projects and 330 adaptation projects. 

The Adaptation Fund: Established under the Kyoto Protocol, the Fund finances projects that help developing countries adapt to climate change. Since 2010, it has supported 80 adaptation projects and committed $564 million to adaptation and resilience measures. 

Development banks: Banks like the World Bank are increasingly prioritizing climate change in its investments. The World Bank has committed to providing US$200 billion in climate investments from 2021 to 2025. Alternatives to the World Bank are regional development banks that fund projects in their region. These regional development banks are increasingly committed to financing environmental projects. 

Bilateral climate finance: Here, financing will come from one country for the benefit of another. This is seen with countries and regions like the EU, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as funds in developing regions like the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund and the Green Fund in South Africa. Bilateral public climate financing has grown over the years from US$22.5 billion in 2013 to US$27 billion in 2018, with funds primarily financing mitigation projects.

National and subnational climate financing: Each country that has signed onto the Paris Agreement has nationally determined contributions that have spending plans for the government. Money allocated by the government on climate change projects may be used to fund water projects. 

Private sector: The private sector made up 54% of climate financing in 2016, largely coming from project developers, carbon markets, foreign direct investment, insurance, and commercial financial institutions. Green bonds are an emerging source of financing in the private sector. Green bonds are climate bonds that offer “significant global opportunities to mobilize capital at scale for low carbon, climate resilient infrastructure and development efforts,” according to the World Bank. 

Public-private partnerships: Although climate change is not very present in current public-private partnerships, efforts from the World Bank and the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility are introducing and normalizing climate financing. 

Blended finance: Blended financing incorporates various sources of funding into one project or fund. By having multiple sources of funding, projects can look more attractive to traditional sources of capital. 

Written by: Gari DeRamos, DSH's former intern

Friday, May 7, 2021

Changing Problems to Opportunities: Updates from RISE ECO Mill Workshops One and Two

 ّWhen RISE Eco Mill began four weeks ago, the student beneficiaries held seeds of ideas to the environmental enterprises they hoped to carry out, but lacked some of the key tools and training to implement their ideas. Fortunately, the first two workshops of this rendition of RISE have already imparted significant skills to the student beneficiaries. 

The first session took place on Saturday, 10 April at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of Ibn Zohr University. It combined an introductory session and a training session. The session started first with welcoming remarks from the Executive Director of Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education, and Culture, Madame Jamila Bargach who emphasized on the importance of youth empowerment for the development of communities, which is one of the main goals of RISE program. After that, the communication manager of the association presented Dar Si Hmad’s activities and projects to familiarize the participants with the environmental, educational, and social activities that we are doing. Finally, the project coordinator gave an overview of the new rise edition and reminded the participants with some ground rules to assure that the program is progressing and meeting its objectives.  Right after that Professor Afafe El Amrani El Hassani, an employment counselor, social actor, and professional and student seminar leader, delivered the first training session on Problem Framing & Needs Analysis

           Professor El Hassani began the session by laying out the three primary functions of project management: planning each task, executing and implementing various operative items, and the follow-up and evaluation of the project’s execution. Presenting the key features of project management in these three discrete steps allowed the beneficiaries to begin to think of their environmental ideas within the framework of a process; that is, by beginning to identify and organize the tasks that must be completed to bring their ideas to reality. The beneficiaries brought their projects one step closer to realization. 

Next, Professor El Hassani emphasized the importance of planning each step of the project before beginning the actual implementation of each step. One of the first steps necessary in this planning process is to determine one’s own entrepreneur profile. Professor El Hassani asked the beneficiaries, “Who are you?” and “How does your story and your unique background fit into the realization of this entrepreneurial project?” These questions will prove important when the beneficiaries pitch their projects to potential funders, as a compelling story will help to sell their projects.  

This first session of RISE also covered the importance of working with a team that manages the various project tasks. After defining the list of tasks that must be completed, beneficiaries can assign each task to members of their teams, and thus ensure that responsibilities are equitably distributed. Professor El Hassani instructed beneficiaries to examine a list of key elements to each of their projects before beginning to implement: utility, scope, success criteria, milestones, actions, results, team, stakeholders, users, resources, constraints, and risks. By defining each of these terms, beneficiaries will create a set of guidelines with which to effectively carry out their projects. 

Next, the beneficiaries identified the duration of their projects, or the timeline over which they hope to bring their ideas to reality. The trainer also insisted that beneficiaries analyze the external environment through the use of the PESTEL analysis, as it is more or less exhaustive. Alternatively, she suggested that beneficiaries can use the tree method, through which they can determine the existing problems that their project can solve and the multiple solutions they could suggest to these problems. Finally, she invited them to perform a swot analysis of themselves to see how ready they are to venture into creating a project. 

The second session of RISE ECO Mill, Ideation, was presented by Abdellah Bourti, a coach and trainer in entrepreneurship, Chief Incubation and Acceleration officer at Univers Startup Incubator, entrepreneur, state engineer in IT, and Graduate of the Mohammadia School of Engineers. While all other sessions of RISE will continue to be offered in person, this session was offered online via Zoom and Facebook Live on Saturday, 17 April. He structured the session around teaching the Design Thinking approach. Design Thinking, or a manner of thinking that aids one in project development, is structured around five key steps: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. Using these five steps, beneficiaries were able to identify key needs in their communities and ideate environmental solutions to address those needs. Furthermore, Mr. Bourti presented strategies for collecting customer insights that beneficiaries could use to identify entrepreneurship opportunities and to evaluate the efficacy of their products. Once a beneficiary identifies the most pressing community needs, one can design and develop entrepreneurial solutions to address those needs. 

Another strategy for identifying key community needs is to develop a “Proto-persona,” or the personification of a typical customer. By defining this individual’s behaviors, pain points, objectives, and desires, the beneficiary can develop a solution or product that best suits them. Along with helping to ideate an effective solution, this technique will assist with marketing and community outreach further along in the process, as each beneficiary has already thought of principal groups they will target once they have realized their idea.

After the first two workshops of RISE ECO Mill, our beneficiaries have already strengthened their project management and development skills. Beyond building upon their existing skills and ideas, they have learned new frameworks for approaching problems that will prove useful in developing their project ideas within RISE, and serve them in the future as young professionals. We look forward to welcoming our beneficiaries to our upcoming RISE ECO Mill workshops: Prototyping and Testing

Written by: Jack Carew, DSH volunteer & CELAR student

Dar Si Hmad April 2021 Highlights

 Our micro-projects have occupied most of our time this past month. In addition to our ongoing rural developmental projects in Ait Baamran, our urban-based educational programs have all been running simultaneously in April. Find below DSH’s highlights from April 2021:

On Saturday the 10th, a new edition of the RISE program was launched. This term called ECO Mill: from IDEAS to STARTUPS, is a training on green entrepreneurship designed by Dar Si Hmad in partnership with the Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences of Ibn Zohr University. Benefiting primarily the Faculty students but also other students attending other Agadir-based faculties and Institutes. Two modules have been so far covered, and if you would like to know what they consisted of, stay tuned for our upcoming blog article!

In the same context of developing the students’ entrepreneurial skills, Dar Si Hmad’ Executive Director, Dr. Jamila Bargach attended the inauguration of the Faculty’s new Career Center, a space dedicated to entrepreneurship for the students of the Faculty, training in the Humanities is an asset to discover in the world of entrepreneurship.

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At Dar Si Hmad, we’ve also been actively preparing for this year’s Summer Tech Camp to benefit 3 groups of rural girl high schoolers in Sidi Ifni. This new edition will be organized in partnership with the UK organization TERN – The Entrepreneurial Refugees Network, and it is funded by the British Council in the framework of its ‘Leadership for Gender Equality’ program. 

GRACE – Girls Read and Communicate in English- program is another educational program to have run this last month. On Friday, 30th , its closing ceremony was organized in Moulay Idriss High School, with the participation of the beneficiaries’ instructor, Ms. Elyssa Wrubel, online and directly from the United States. 

Regarding our developmental rural projects, Dar Si Hmad’s Office manager, Miss Samira Arjdal, was invited on the 5th of April, to participate as a panelist in the ALINOV Webinar on Green Entrepreneurship organized by MEDAFCO-Development. In this online event, Samira talked about our organization’s experiences in the fields of agroecology and water management. To check the recordings of the two panels that she was part of, click on these hyperlinks: Panel on Agroecology & Panel on Water Management.

In the field,  the construction bricks for our indigenous seed-bank were delivered to our Agdal Id Aachour Pedagogical farm. Please make a donation through the GobalGiving platform to contribute to ecological initiatives! 

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Finally, Mr. Mustapha Ouafegha, the project coordinator of Afous Ghissiki, training in Agroecology, has successfully completed the Marrakesh Organics Permaculture Design Course, which will enable him to share more updated knowledge in the field with the beneficiaries of the oases of Tighmert and Ouggoug.

Keep on following us on our social media platforms to receive more updates on our diverse projects!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Dar Si Hmad March 2021 Highlights

You will be hearing from us all over this April as we have been at work, relentlessly, last month! 

Allow us to get you a tour of the highlights of March 2021!

As part of our fog harvesting project extension in Taloust, the foundations for a water cistern were implanted  by the provincial directory of agriculture in Id Bighiden village.

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A new experimental Cloudfisher was installed on top of Tabtist Mountain.  This spot is believed to have a high potential for fog harvesting.

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Our office Manager, Ms. Samira Arjdal, the fog project’s manager, Mr. Mounir Abbar, and our two rural project coordinators, Mr. Mohamed Hammou-Ali and Mr. Hussein Soussane organized a visit to ZINCO company in Fez to benefit from a training on prepaid meters we will be utilizing henceforth to connect more households to our fog harvesting system.


Mr. Hicham Aoumat, from the company Green Solutions paid  a visit to our fog harvesting system to study the possibility of automating the water distribution network.

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The members of the Tiznit Association of the Technicians of the Building Sector organized a field trip to the fog harvesting site.

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Organic harvest is already being produced in Agdal Id Achour Pedagogical Farm, and the plan to construct Dar Si Hmad’s indigenous seeds bank is ongoing!

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A beneficiary of Afous Ghissiki’s agroecology training is also witnessing promising results from the application of the techniques he learned  the previous months. In fact, he has already started commercializing his organic harvest which generates  a decent income for the start.

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In addition, GRACE program online sessions with our intern Elyssa Wrubel were continuing in March.

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And the preparations for the RISE program that we launched last Saturday were developing quickly.

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And finally, a small surprise birthday party was organized at Dar Si Hmad office to celebrate our administration and finances manager, Ms. Khadija Changa’s birthday, early on the last Friday of the month.

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For more details on Dar Si Hmad’s projects and activities, follow us on our social media pages!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

RISE Eco Mill 2021: Building the Mill


from left to right: Mr.Jack Carew, DSH's volunteerand CELAR student, Ms. Salwa El Haouti, DSH's communications officer, and Ms. Samira Arjdal, DSH's office manager. And in the chat room, Ms. Khadija Amahal, RISE program coordinator

           Since the successful closing of RISE ECO-AYA (Ecological Advocacy Youth Action) last month, the RISE team has been working diligently to execute the next RISE iteration, RISE Eco Mill, scheduled to begin this Saturday, April 10. This iteration of the program will continue RISE’s central mandate of promoting environmental activism and awareness in the Souss Massa region, while centering a special focus on entrepreneurship and startup development.

Furthermore, RISE Eco Mill is situated squarely within the mission of Dar Si Hmad, and furthers our commitment to the empowerment of young people and protection of the environment of southern Morocco. After significant deliberation, the RISE team landed on Eco Mill as the most appropriate theme for this iteration of RISE. This new edition of RISE that specifically focuses on environmental issues and youth entrepreneurship will lead to the realization of the Dar Si Hmad’s goals, and create outsize impact in the Souss Massa region.

As RISE is committed to creating equitable opportunities for participation, our team members travelled to a number of universities and organizations in the greater Agadir area in order to deliver detailed presentations about RISE Eco Mill and distribute application information. Beyond simply recruiting participants in the RISE program, these conversations served to spread awareness of Dar Si Hmad’s activities in the region and opportunities for environmental activism. In addition to live presentations, the RISE team distributed informational materials, including a technical data sheet, physically to numerous local universities and digitally via social media. Our outreach yielded myriad applicants possessing diverse backgrounds in physical and social sciences, humanities, and business. The RISE team completed interviewing the applicants and making their final selections over the past week. RISE Eco Mill beneficiaries represent a diverse group of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral students, as well as recent graduates, with wide-ranging ideas and issues that they intend to address. 

The program will consist of a series of trainings by Moroccan academics, community leaders, and business professionals concerning environmental issues in the region and best practices for startup business development. These environmental leaders are graciously volunteering their time to lead informative workshops. After identifying the most pressing environmental challenges, RISE beneficiaries will synthesize skills from the various workshops to develop their own enterprises presenting solutions to these challenges. Our beneficiaries will transform gaps in environmental action into opportunities for private industry, and support further youth engagement with environmental issues. 

At the close of RISE Eco Mill, beneficiaries will pitch their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of judges. Beyond serving as an opportunity to practice their public speaking skills, the pitch session serves as a model of a common task that the young entrepreneurs participating in RISE will practice throughout their business careers. Each pitch will receive live feedback from the various judges, each an expert in their respective environmental field. 

Ultimately, RISE Eco Mill beneficiaries will implement the information and skills they gain over the coming months into their own projects addressing the most pressing environmental issues in the region. The implementation phase is critical, as Dar Si Hmad believes that students learn the most as they apply the learnings from each training in a hands-on fashion. While the projects may not be realized until months or years into the future, our beneficiaries will have the tools to successfully design and carry out their own meaningful environmental solution after completing RISE Eco Mill.

Written by: Jack Carew, Dar Si Hmad's volunteer and CELAR student