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.

Friday, November 4, 2016

SDG #15: Life on Land

Thanks to Environmental Youth Ambassador Rkia Elarif for this guest blog post about the fifteenth Sustainable Development Goal! This post is the last installment of our "Road to Marrakech" social media campaign leading up to COP22. The last Sustainable Development Goal we are highlighting is SDG 15: Life on Land.   
 
Climate change is having huge impacts not only on ecosystems and economics but also on societies and communities in a broad variety of ways. In the Aït Baamrane region of Southwest Morocco, climate change alters rainfall patterns, influences crop yields, and reshapes ecosystems, especially forests. Forests are particularly important as the United Nations has found that around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods – including some 70 million indigenous people. The impacts of climate change on agriculture, energy supply and water sources directly affect humans’ lives.
The residents of rural Aït Baamrane are struggling to adapt to global warming and climate change. Regional drought levels are rising as temperatures warm, leading to higher chances of experiencing extreme heat and an ecosystem unbalance. This makes it harder for women searching for water, as supply and sources are harder to predict.
The world’s largest environmental “fog harvesting” system run by Dar Si Hmad is based in Aït Baamrane. It was created with the aim of helping communities thrive and provide them with potable water, creating a local solution to climate threats.
Dar Si Hmad doesn’t limit its work to providing people with clean water. Humans, after all, aren’t the only Life on Land! Projects like the Water School and Women’sCapacity-Building in the Anti-Atlas Mountains help people learn about their surrounding ecosystems, other species of fauna and flora, and the role they can play in climate stabilization.
Dar Si Hmad is a poignant example of how local systems can lead a revolution toward climate policy and what kinds of solutions can be delivered to communities. Dar Si Hmad is helping achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals working to transform the world and create a better place by:
  • Ensuring the sustainable supply of clean water for the Aït Baamrane region;
  • Improving the lives of local communities; and
  • Creating and stimulating sustainable livelihood opportunities.

The climate is changing. Dar Si Hmad doesn’t wait to adapt, it innovates first. The group’s recent United Nations Momentum for Change Award has recognized the great success of the work being done.
In just a few days, Dar Si Hmad will join forces with other NGOs, activists, journalists, policymakers, and diplomats to fight climate change at COP 22 in Marrakech. We hope you’ll join us, either at our booth in the Green Zone or online. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn more about how we are making a difference and how you can join us to protect life on land for all.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

SDG #13: Climate Action

Thanks to Environmental Youth Ambassador Oumhani Benhima for this guest blog post about the thirteenth Sustainable Development Goal! This post is part of our "Road to Marrakech" social media campaign leading up to COP22. The next Sustainable Development Goal we are highlighting is SDG 13: Action against Climate Change.

 
Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow.

Climate change refers to the rise in average surface temperatures on Earth. An overwhelming scientific consensus maintains that climate change is due primarily to the human use of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air. The gases trap heat within the atmosphere, which can have a range of effects on ecosystems.

People are experiencing the significant impacts of climate change, which include changing weather patterns, rising sea level, and more extreme weather events. The greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are driving climate change and continue to rise. They are now at their highest levels in history. Without action, the world’s average surface temperature is projected to rise over the 21st century and is likely to surpass 3 degrees Celsius this century, with some areas of the world expected to warm even more. The poorest and most vulnerable people are being affected the most.

Affordable, scalable solutions are now available to enable countries to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies. The pace of change is quickening as more people are turning to renewable energy and a range of other measures that will reduce emissions and increase adaptation efforts.
But climate change is a global challenge that does not respect national borders. Emissions anywhere affect people everywhere. It is an issue that requires solutions that need to be coordinated at the international level and it requires international cooperation to help developing countries move toward a low-carbon economy.
To address climate change, countries adopted the Paris Agreement at the COP21 in Paris on 12 December 2015. In the agreement, all countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and given the grave risks, to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius.  
As for the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the UNFCCC it  is scheduled to take place from 7-18 November 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco. During COP22, parties will, inter alia, begin preparations for entry into force of the Paris Agreement which is essential for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and provides a roadmap for climate actions that will reduce emissions and build climate resilience.

The thirteenth Sustainable Development Goal aims to "Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts" through a list of targets which countries need to take ownership of and define the specific responsibilities and targets befalling them.

  • Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.
  • Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning.
  • Improve education, awareness raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning.
  • Implement the commitment undertaken by developed country Parties to the UNFCCC to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible.
  • Promote mechanisms for raising capacities for effective climate change-related planning and management, in LDCs, including focusing on women, youth, local and marginalized communities.

Dar Si Hmad understands that the education of the younger generations is one of the main causes of climate change. Hence the idea of the Water School was established, so as to remove this issue from its roots. The Water School uses environmental concerns to engage rural communities in experiential, life-changing learning. Children aged 7-13 in southwest Morocco’s Aït Baamrane region learn about the societal and natural realities of their world, expanding their capacities for and understandings of global change.

The establishment of the Water School came after launching the world’s largest operational Fog-Harvesting system located in Aït Baamrane in Southwest Morocco. The system includes 600 m2 of nets that harvest fresh water from fog, serving more than 400 rural Berber residents, the majority of them women. Rural women in these villages once held the frequently burdensome role of fetching water. Having water piped directly into their homes means that residents no longer need to travel long distances for potable water. By controlling the household water supply and monitoring the fog system, women continue to maintain power as water guardians.

Dar Si Hmad's Fog-Harvesting project is one of 13 winners of the United Nations Momentum for Change award. The project has been awarded the prize under the Women for Results focus area which showcase women-led initiatives that address climate change.

Last but certainly not least, the Environmental Youth Ambassadors (EYA) are an environmental education and advocacy program. The aim of this project is to allow young Moroccans to use visual storytelling and environmental journalism to advocate for environmental issues in southwest Morocco on a local and international scale, which do not receive significant attention or publicity. Particularly as the COP22 conference to be held in Marrakech approaches, this kind of conscientious, locally-driven initiative will be a powerful contribution to the dialogues and pledges surrounding COP22, showcasing the vibrant efforts of youth from all corners of Morocco who are raising awareness about and combating climate change.

Even though It’s hard to believe that the actions of one person can make a difference when a problem is global in scale. But even small acts of empowerment can have big results. And since so many things affect our climate, you might be surprised at all the ways you can make a difference!

You can take action. You can take steps at home, on the road, and in your office to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the risks associated with climate change. Many of these steps can save you money; some, such as walking or biking to work, can even improve your health! You can also get involved on a local or state level to support energy efficiency, clean energy programs, or other climate programs.



As COP22 draws ever closer, we invite you to join us in Climate Action. Follow Dar Si Hmad on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn more about how we are working to achieve progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals and support the communities of Aït Baamrane.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

SDG# 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Thanks to Environmental Youth Ambassador Med Moumin for this guest blog post about the eleventh Sustainable Development Goal! This post is part of our "Road to Marrakech" social media campaign leading up to COP22. The next Sustainable Development Goal we are highlighting is SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.


2015 was the year that UN General Assembly has taken a new twist in adopting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Included in the new Agenda is a typical human right, target 11a, which calls on all countries to support a positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning.

Sustainable urban and rural development should be in an ecologically, economically and socially sustainable manner that contributes in the reduction of social disparities and preserves the right to access to healthy living, clean water, and adequate education. Historically, there have been great gaps in quality of life between those living in urban and rural communities and between rich and poor neighborhoods within cities.

This panoramic view from Brazil illustrates the gap between rich and poor urban communities.
 
Since its foundation in 2006, Dar Si Hmad has been working to create a range of opportunities for people in both rural and urban regions of Southwest Morocco. Dar Si Hmad’s work is a life changing example for people there. The work began with the UNFCCC Momentum for Change winning fog-harvesting project, which has enables five villages to access clean water using fog in a way that is ecologically friendly and responsible.

Dar Si Hmad improves access to potable water in Southwest Morocco

Dar Si Hmad endorses various educational opportunities, and quality in education is always among the priorities. Children of the remote villages of Aït Baamrane lack access to up-to-date subjects in schools, with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics resources particularly poor. Dar Si Hmad has developed a STEM curriculum engaging students ages 7-14 in activities that enhance their awareness of the local environment they live in.

A student from the Moroccan countryside examines native ecology during Dar Si Hmad's Water School

Dar Si Hmad believes in sustainability everywhere, and people living in rural settlements need to feel that they have the same opportunities no matter where they are born or move to.

In urban Agadir, Dar Si Hmad has a hand in promoting a sustainable livelihoods amongst the youth and children of future generations. The new Environmental Youth Ambassadors have spread the influential experience they had with children of Water School in rural Aït Baamrane to the city kids of the SOS Children's Village in Agadir. Ambassadors worked with urban students to explore the everyday practices they need to develop a sustainable healthy environment around them.

The Environmental Youth Ambassadors’ have also sought to be leading models for promoting sustainability in the city of Agadir. EYAs have created a sharing platform using visual storytelling to generate dialogue on environmental challenges and solutions. They have led clean-up activities around the region, visibly encouraging communities to take care of the environment by reducing pollution. And several of the Ambassadors are going to take part of the Conference of Youth (COY12) in Marrakesh ahead of COP22. The conference is a universal opportunity to exchange experiences and inspire each other.

EYAs taking part in a Clean & Green Campaign in Paradise Valley




Target 11.4 of the SDGs calls to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable through the preservation of the world’s cultural and natural heritage. I will thus also spotlight Dar Si Hmad’s Ethnographic Field School, a good example of cultural enhancement that promotes a global socio-cultural exchange and dialogue between Moroccans and foreigners. Dar Si Hmad provides universal opportunities for students and researchers from all over the world to be part of what makes the Moroccan cultural heritage. Visitors are facilitated by academic and cultural programs, service learning, homestays, and language classes.


University of Tampa (May 2015) examine the archetypal design of a traditional Amazigh (Berber) door in Southwest Morocco while visiting the Amazigh Heritage Museum in downtown Agadir as part of our Ethnographic Field School

Dar Si Hmad believes in building open mindedness and belonging in a participatory way that promotes social cohesion, inclusion and equity. This aim can’t be achieved unless we unify our efforts in reducing social disparities between people in urban and rural. Today, one billion people live in slum areas. Poverty, hunger, poor administration and insufficient planning capacity cause the expansion of slums. Many countries still have major deficiencies concerning access to healthy housing, clean water, adequate education, and secure energy supply.

We are now in the 10-Day Countdown to COP22. Connectivity is the key to help communities recover and thrive. Together, we can make the Climate Change Conference of this year the time for ACTION towards livability and sustainability of communities and ecosystems.


Join Dar Si Hmad at COP22 - see here to learn how you can see us in Marrakech. If you can't be with us physically in Morocco, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn more about how we are working to help cities and communities thrive, achieve progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals, and support the important work of COP22.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

SDG #9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Thanks to Environmental Youth Ambassador Mohamed Ouabbou for this guest blog post about the ninth Sustainable Development Goal! This post is part of our "Road to Marrakech" social media campaign leading up to COP22. The next Sustainable Development Goal we are highlighting is SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.


The Industrial Revolution was a long time ago - and we now know that access to technologies and resilient infrastructure have a long-lasting impact on inclusive growth. We also know that unsustainable industry and infrastructure are one of the biggest contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

The ninth Sustainable Develop Goal centers around "Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure". It is about building the most sustainable future for everyone around the world in an environmentally way.

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Meghan Werft's op-ed on Global Citizen argues that these three mean:
  • "Industry: A world where we can renewable energy and innovative knowledge equally with one another.
  • "Innovation: A world where humans can advance and progress together.
  • "Infrastructure: A world with no slums, where everyone has access to sustainable resilient materials to build a safe, secure home."
Sadly, we are still a long ways from this goal as a reality. Over half the world's population lives in cities. 2.5 billion people lack access to basic sanitation and almost 800 million people lack access to water. Over 4 billion people do not have access to the Internet. More than half of the world's workers are in insecure jobs with poor pay and limited access to both education and social insurance. Investing in technology, scientific research, and innovation are all important ways to facilitate sustainable development. 

The gender gap of sustainable development is particularly prominent in this goal. UN Women has found that the vast majority of researchers are still men. Women must have equal opportunities in building a shared sustainable future.

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Investing in technology and innovation would create more jobs. Expanded infrastructure can give developing countries the ability to engage in the global market. Technology can serve a key role in improving access to education, world markets, and a globally connected society.

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According to the “Global Competitiveness 2015” Report, Morocco has ranked 1st place in North Africa in the category of Best Infrastructure. The construction industry growth by investment in infrastructure and energy and the industry is expected to rise of 4.07% over the period (2016-2020) up from 1.26% during (2011-2015). The government launched various transport infrastructure projects under the 2015–2020 and aims to support economic and urban development, improve living standards and ensure social and economic inclusion.

Dar Si Hmad works to promote innovation for sustainable livelihoods. Our award-winning fog-harvesting project uses pioneering technology to provide potable water to over 500 Amazigh villagers. Our Water School promotes girls in STEM fields, educating the next generation of Moroccan female engineers. Our RISE program engages urban youth in environmentally-friendly entrepreneurship and community development.

As we prepare for COP22, we encourage you to join us in promoting innovative work for social and environmental change. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn more about how we are doing this, the Sustainable Development Goals, COP22, and our work in community-driven innovation.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Teaching WASH at the SOS Children's Village

Yesterday, Environmental Youth Ambassador Salma Edrif wrote about global problems with access to clean water and sanitation. Improving these services is the sixth Sustainable Development Goal. Today as part of our "Road to Marrakech" social media campaign leading up to COP22, Salma shares how the EYAs recently took action on WASH: Water for Sanitation and Hygiene.

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The Environmental Youth Ambassadors recently visited the SOS Children's Village
to deliver a lesson on Water for Sanitation & Hygiene

Following the example of Dar Si Hmad’s Water School in Aït Baamrane's primary schools, the Environmental Youth Ambassadors recently broadened the project’s target by bringing it to SOS Children Village in Agadir. The Water School is an environmental educational project for youth in southwest Morocco.

Dar Si Hmad’s team implemented the Water School project in order to help the children of Aït Baamrane villages benefitting from the fog project adapt to the new luxury of water in their homes and learn about Morocco’s diverse climate, fauna and flora. The School brings a series of classes on ecologically-sound water practices taught through a curriculum of adaptive hands on-activities stimulating children’s curiosity and lust for learning to build their capacities in the 4 pillars of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

After working in the Water School's original classrooms, the EYAs brought the lessons to Agadir's SOS Children Village. They spent one memorable Saturday afternoon with 40 kids aged between 6 and 10 years old.

The EYAs selected Lesson 6 of the Water School curriculum: Water for Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). The activities of the session aimed to draw the children’s attention to germs: their existence, how they spread, and the causes of contagion. The afternoon included fun activities teaching students the proper method to wash their hands using soap and water. They also discussed the importance of handwashing after and before specific activities every day in order to avoid contagion.

As the curriculum is based on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Science) subjects, the SOS Village afternoon included the use of microscopes and magnifying lenses allowing students to explore the miniscule world around them. Students improved their teamwork skills by helping each other wash their hands and tapped into their artistic minds to represent germs' contagion. They EYAs served as mentors to encourage them to commit to sharing their knowledge about proper sanitation practices with their communities.

The EYAs hope to continue sharing the lessons of the Water School around Morocco. We will be highlighting the project at COP22. Learn more about the curriculum in our "Streaming the Water School" series and join us online for regular updates!


Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn more about how we are working to improve WASH, achieve progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals, and support the important work of COP22.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

SDG #6 : Water and sanitation

Thanks to Environmental Youth Ambassador Salma Edrif for this guest blog post about the fourth Sustainable Development Goal! This post is part of our "Road to Marrakech" social media campaign leading up to COP22. The next Sustainable Development Goal we are highlighting is SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation.


The sixth Sustainable Development Goal set by the United Nations to be achieved over the next 15 years is to ensure access to safe water sources and sanitation for all. 


The fact that water covers 70% of our planet drives us to take it for granted.
However, the fresh water we can drink and use in our daily lives represents only 3% of that water.
Even worse, around 1.1 billion of the world’s population still face daily challenges accessing one of their basic needs that is access to water, while 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year. 2.7 people can not drink, nor bathe or cook food for at least one month.


The seriousness of water scarcity affects 40% of the world’s population, directly through the lack of access to clean water itself as well as sanitation services such as toilets, and indirectly through gender inequality, illiteracy, health threats and poor economic development


Approximately half the victim population of the lack of access to clean drinking water as well as sanitation services are children, whose lives are affected on many levels.



Searching for potable water, or what is often called “the six miles journey,” is the daily mission for over 2 billion women and children across the globe. Instead of taking their natural seats at schools, children (unfortunately especially girls) spend hours fetching and transporting water from miles away water pumps and wells. When girls do manage the time to go to school, the lack of sanitation services frequently drives them to drop out by the age of puberty, as their sanitary needs increase.


The water fetching occupation hinders schooling and prohibits the children from pursuing their future ambitions. This daily chore is also a real threat to their lives, as they often walk long miles unaccompanied, exposed to abduction, rape, abuse, wild animals and insect attacks.

Children are further exposed to water-based hazards from non-potable water or water sources that have been contaminated by water-borne bacteria. These WASH-related issues are responsible for the death of more than 800 children every day from diarrhoeal diseases linked to poor hygiene and fecal contamination. 

A standard toilet facilty in Dar Si Hmad's partner fog villages in Aït Baamrane

In 2016, the alarms are already flashing crimson red, and the call for action is pressing.

The United Nations set this #6 goal because managing water sustainably will not just allow humanity to better manage food and energy production, contribute to decent work and economic growth, preserve natural water ecosystems and biodiversity, and take action on climate change - but also literally save the lives of 2.2 billion people who are currently dying every year, simply because they do not have clean, potable running water or adequate toilets.



Dar Si Hmad is promoted to improving WASH for the communities of Aït Baamrane, Morocco, and the world. Join us on the Road to Marrakech as we prepare for COP22, celebrate the work we do, and explore what is yet to do. 

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn more about how we are doing this, the Sustainable Development Goals, COP22, and our work in access to water and sanitation for all.