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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

SDG 4: Quality Education

Thanks to Environmental Youth Ambassador Abdelhaq Ait Boulhous 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 4: Quality Education. Happy learning from Dar Si Hmad!

The fourth Sustainable Development Goal aims to "ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all".

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”
-Nelson Mandela

According to the UN, Quality Education means to:
  • Help poor countries benefit from better education.
  • Create equity education between boys and girls.
  • Encourage the students to be more creative and innovative.
  • Build peace in parallel with education.

As every country, minister, and responsible parent must know, education is a fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all other human rights. It promotes individual freedom and empowerment and yields important development benefits. Yet millions of children and adults remain deprived of educational opportunities, many as a result of poverty.
Not long ago, education was only accessible to the rich, furthering a domination of this category of society. Girls often didn't have the right to be educated like boys due to mainstream sexism, as many people - including parents - believe that a girl's primary purpose is to get married at an early age and have children, take care of her family, and rely on men. For many poor countries (especially in Africa, Asia and South America), education for both sexes continues to be lacking.

Today, the world has changed with the help of technology. 99% of world's families have television, so they can know what is happening in the world and get updates. It is increasingly possible for us to make quality education for all a possibility.

In Southwest Morocco, Dar Si Hmad has innovated many projects and programs to resolve the problem of inequitable access to quality learning and teaching.

The Water School is an environmental program which aims to educate schoolchildren about the concept of water, environmental conservation and sustainability using innovative teaching methodologies. This program helps children know what happens in their environment and learn about animal and plant biology, fog, the water cycle, and more. 

The Water School includes a focus on girls in science, made possible by the fog harvesting project. Thanks to the fog water, women in rural Aït Baamrane don't have to travel long hours in order to fetch a few liters of water. Girls are thus able to focus on their studies and no longer have to worry about waking up very early for water. This is helping encourage families to keep girls in schools, decreasing the region's high female drop rate.

Last year, the RISE and THRIVE programs offered 120 young university students 8 months of professional development training led by very experienced facilitators and mentors. Participants acquired technical skills on information technology, project management, career planning and entrepreneurship. Learn more about this project here and catch some of last year's highlights in the video below.

Last but not least, there is the Environmental Youth Ambassadors program - something I am part of. The EYAs are an environmental education & advocacy initiative driven by Moroccan youth, using visual storytelling to generate dialogue on environmental challenges & solutions. 7 young RISE participants have been selected to join Dar Si Hmad in tackling the world's biggest problem, global warming and climate change. The EYA program aims to engage youth to add their innovative ideas to come up with solutions and strategies for climate action. Thus far, we have organized national online campaigns and 4 events in Agadir to spread and share our environmental message. These have included a “Film & Ftour” night during Ramadan, a “Clean & Green” garbage removal activity in Paradise Valley in Agadir, and a special lesson on water and health at the SOS Village for abandoned children. You can learn more about this program by following our Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.

Dar Si Hmad works to be part of the change through projects with a long-term vision. We are committed to next generations and believe that education is a vital part of creating a sustainable world.  

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 quality education for all.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

International Day of Rural Women

Thanks to Environmental Youth Ambassador Mohamed Ouabbou for this guest blog post about the International Day of Rural Women! We are proud to be working with young Moroccan male feminists.
This post is part of our "Road to Marrakech" social media campaign leading up to COP22. The first Sustainable Development Goal we are highlighting is SDG 5: Gender Equality. From all of us at Dar Si Hmad, happy Rural Women's Day!

The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on October 15, 2008. The idea of honoring rural women with a special day was put forward at the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995 - the same event where then-First Lady of the United States Hillary Clinton first declared "women's rights are human rights". It was suggested that this day be celebrated as World Rural Women’s Day.

The United Nations International Day of Rural Women celebrates and honors the role of rural women who make up one-quarter of the world's population. Rural women are often the primary providers of food and sustenance for their families and contribute to the majority of global food production by constantly adapting to their environments with new agricultural techniques. They do this while frequently working in situations of poverty - bearing in mind that 76 percent of the world's extreme poor live in rural areas.

Today's commemoration aims is to address the human rights of all rural women, improving their working conditions and recognizing the important role they play in society. This is a vital step in ensuring the sustainability of human-nature systems.

In Morocco, many women survive through subsistence farming with limited other opportunities available to them. Poor infrastructure and limited access to credit means that raising enough income to support children's schooling is made more difficult in female-headed households - creating a vicious cycle of poverty and poor education.

Since its founding in 2010, Dar Si Hmad works to support mothers to improve their livelihoods in Southwest Morocco's rural areas. The organization utilizes pioneering research and technology and uses education and ecology to promote intercultural exchange and participatory development facilitating sustainable growth for the region. Some of projects particularly relevant to the International Day of Rural Women are:
  • 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.
  • Women's Empowerment trainings ensure that women of all backgrounds have the skills they need to take on leadership and decision-making roles, allowing for truly sustainable development.
  • Dar Si Hmad’s E-Learning program helps young women in Aït Baamrane to succeed in national exams, opening doors to a wider range of opportunities and experiences.
  • The Water School uses environmental concerns to engage rural communities in experiential learning. Children aged 7-13 explore the societal and natural realities of their world, expanding their capacities for and understandings of global change.
  • Through the Ethnographic Field School, Dar Si Hmad invites international researchers and students to be a part of their inspiring work with local communities by facilitating academic and cultural programs and service learning. These visits provide new experiences for communities and help reduce the many stereotypes frequently held about rural women.
Two weeks ago, the above programs won a prestigious award from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in recognition of their support for rural women. Momentum for Change recognizes the transformative climate action projects that are already taking place on the ground. Momentum for Change is spearheaded by the UN Climate Change secretariat as part of wider efforts to mobilize action and ambition as national governments work toward implementing the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. Dar Si Hmad won under the "Women for Results" focus area that showcases women-led initiatives addressing climate change. Our "Women-Led Fog Harvesting for a Resilient, Sustainable Ecosystem" is gaining international attention and more groups are exploring how they can borrow from our learning in fog-harvesting, environmental education, and women-centered rural development to improve their own work.

While today's celebrations focus on the specific situations of  rural women, it is important to also acknowledge the value of rural women to economic growth, food security, and people's empowerment. As former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kofi Annan said, "When women thrive, all of society benefits."

Join Dar Si Hmad on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn more about how we are promoting and empowering rural women to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Friday, October 14, 2016

SDG 5: Gender Equality

The fifth Sustainble Development Goal aims to "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls".

Each of the Sustainable Development Goals includes a number of specific targets. In our lead-up to COP22, Dar Si Hmad will be highlighting a few of the SDGs and how we partner with local communities and global initiatives to make progress.

For the United Nations and SDGs, Gender Equality means:
  • ending all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere;
  • eliminating all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation; 
  • eliminating all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation; recognizing and valuing unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate; 
  • ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life;
  • ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences;
  • undertaking reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws;
  • enhancing the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women; and
  • adopting and strengthening sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all level.
For Dar Si Hmad, gender equality means making sure everyone has the opportunity to make the most of their lives and their communities. We do this locally, nationally, and globally through a variety of programmes.

Tomorrow for the International Day of Rural Women, we will highlight the work we do with Amazigh women in Aït Baamrane's fog villages. Dar Si Hmad conducts bi-monthly capacity-building trainings for women, teaching functional literacy and mobile technologies. The workshops also explore cooperatives as routes to economic empowerment. These seminars were created to ensure that the time saved by the in-home water access brought through our award-winning fog project is invested in future generations of female leaders. The women have subsequently developed tools and skills and are on their way to becoming economically autonomous.

Meanwhile with younger girls, Dar Si Hmad promotes a variety of educational opportunities. Women around the world are discouraged from pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields - as well as higher education in general - by persistent sexist stereotypes. These negative messages sink in at a very early age and are reinforced throughout girls' lives. The Water School seeks to dismantle these internalized ideas through lessons on environmental science, providing opportunities for Berber girls to explore STEM fields. Our Streaming the Water School episode on "Girls in STEM" highlights the Water School's impact on young girls. For teenagers, the Girls' E-Learning program brings computer-based tutorials to young women in rural areas to help them prepare for exams, improving their access to higher education. As young adults, the RISE & THRIVE programs engage university and vocational students in professional skills development.

Nationally, Dar Si Hmad is a member of the Search for Common Ground National Coalition on "Empowerment & Rights". The Coalition focuses on strengthening the advocacy of women's rights in civil society organizations and engages in collaborative, non-adversarial campaigning for legislative reform. Our own Souad Kadi serves as an NGO Representative to the National Coalition to work toward increasing cooperation with key society stakeholders and reducing economic constraints for women.

On the international scale, Dar Si Hmad is proud to be a part of Michelle Obama's Let Girls Learn initiative. Let Girls Learn works "to ensure adolescent girls get the education they deserve. The program recognizes that around the world, girls face complex physical, cultural, and financial barriers in accessing education. As a girl grows older the fight to get an education becomes even harder. Her family must be willing to pay school fees. She may have a long, unsafe walk to school. She may be forced to marry. And she often lacks the support she needs to learn. Yet, we know that educating girls can transform lives, families, communities, and entire countries. When girls are educated, they lead healthier and more productive lives. They gain the skills, knowledge, and confidence to break the cycle of poverty and help strengthen their societies. It’s time to Let Girls Learn."

In the documentary "We Will Rise: Michelle Obama's Mission to Educate Girls Around the World", the First Lady of the United States, actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto, and CNN's Isha Sesay journey to Morocco and Liberia, where they meet young women overcoming incredible odds to change their lives. You can read more about Michelle Obama's passion for girls' education in this guest piece written by the First Lady for CNN.

Last Tuesday October 11th, in celebration of the International Day of The Girl, "We Will Rise" premiered at The White House. Two of our RISE Alumni, Zahra and Hasna, and our Director Dr Jamila Bargach were invited to The White House to attend the premiere.

We are proud to be working to Let Girls Learn - in Aït Baamrane, Agadir, and around the world.
Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn more about how we are doing this, the Sustainable Development Goals, COP22, and our work to fight for global gender equality and promote sustainable development for all.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Countdown to COP22: 25 Days

Today marks twenty-five days until the twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In other words: in just under a month, Morocco will be kicking off the world's biggest meeting about climate change!

The UN Climate Change Convention is an international plan for action against climate change. The treaty was launched at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. 196 countries have signed the agreement and pledged their support. Each year, representatives of these countries meet at a Conference of the Parties to review progress and decide on next steps. These annual meetings have been held since 1995, when the first Conference of the Parties was held in Berlin. Last December, COP21 was held in Paris.

November 7-18, the city of Marrakech will host foreign heads of state, international diplomats, scientists, lawyers, researchers, journalists, and activists for COP22. In addition to the legal and policy meetings, environmental groups and activists will gather to share ideas and programs that help combat climate change and its impacts.

Dar Si Hmad for Development, Culture and Education is proud to be taking part of COP22 as a civil society partner. We will have a booth in the Green Zone and will be presenting our award-winning fog-harvesting project at a sponsored side event on November 7.

As part of our lead-up to Marrakech, Dar Si Hmad will be running a social media campaign focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs are a UN-led call to action for countries, corporations, groups, and individuals. The goals focus on ending poverty, protecting the planet, and creating peace and prosperity for everyone.


The goals are:
  1. No Poverty - End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. Zero Hunger - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Good Health and Well-Being - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  4. Quality Education - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Gender Equality - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Affordable and Clean Energy - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  10. Reduced Inequalities - Reduce income inequality within and among countries
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  12. Responsible Consumption and Production - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Climate Action - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting develoments in renewable energy
  14. Life Below Water - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  15. Life on Land - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  17. Partnerships for the Goals - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
While COP22 is generally focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, climate change affects all parts of life. Successfully working against negative environmental damage requires integrating action and tackling poverty, hunger, inequality, and injustice to ensure sustainability for humans and ecosystems.

The UNFCCC acknolwedges that certain areas are more vulnerable to climate change. This includes arid or semi-arid zones and developing countries with fragile mountainous ecosystems. Aït Baamrane, where Dar Si Hmad works, is one such place, subject to extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, desertification, and other negative environmental impacts. We are proud to be hosting COP22 in a country that knows the risks and problems of climate change, and we are proud to be actively working to ensure that our most vulnerable populations - rural communities, indigenous peoples, women, and children - do not face the costs of climate change alone. As we journey to Marrakech for COP22, we invite you to join us. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals, COP22, and our work to combat climate change in Morocco and around the world.