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, September 21, 2016

International Day of Peace

International Day of Peace
Spotlight on the Role of Dar Si Hmad’s Programs in Promoting Peace

Thanks to guest author and Environmental Youth Ambassador Mohamed Moumin for this piece!

Peace is not merely the absence of war but is a state of mind, a way of being and a way of living. Peace means establishing an active culture in the world with collective social, political and economic harmony.
Every year on September 21, the United Nations leads an International Day of Peace. The Day was declared by the United Nations (UN) in 1981. Since then it is observed annually by many nations, political groups, military groups, and peoples. International Day of Peace is a globally-shared date for all humanity to take the lead in activities that contribute to the creation of a more peaceful, compassionate, knowledgeable and unified world.
To preserve a positive human heritage, we invite you to join us in celebrating the International Day of Peace and take a close look at how Dar Si Hmad is promoting peace with innovative ideas.
Sustainable development and livelihoods are at the heart of Dar Si Hmad’s mandate. Training and empowering young people are a powerful way to do this. During the 2015-2016 school year, Dar Si Hmad’s leading RISE & THRIVE program successfully enabled 69 university students and 120 trainees from the CFA vocational school with professional competencies to enhance employability and entrepreneurship. These programs offer tailored workshops led by professionals supported by multi-media and online learning platforms. The primary objective of the project is the nurturing of self-growth and community solidarity, vital to raising a generation that promotes peace and defends sustainability.
This past week, Dar Si Hmad relaunched RISE, which will focus on environmental issues for 2017. The program aims to equip young students with technical and planning skills along with experience in the practical implementation of environmental projects.
In the bled (Moroccan countryside), Dar Si Hmad’s E-Learning and Womens Empowerment programs have advanced the right to quality education and gender equality throughout the country. Girls in the E-Learning Program are equipped with valuable knowledge and skills vital to further education and personal empowerment. Women in rural regions are now able to apply knowledge and capacities they have developed toward economic and social progress, promoting for peace and sustainable development.
Looking internationally, Dar Si Hmad’s Ethnographic Field School creates a universal platform for socio-cultural exchange and dialogue that helps break down stereotypes between Moroccans and foreigners. Dar Si Hmad invites researchers and students from all over the world to be part of inspiring experiences facilitated by academic and cultural programs, service learning, homestays, and language classes.
Scientifically, Dar Si Hmad has focused its work on issues of global concern requiring multinational collaboration. Innovative research and experiments in freshwater resource management, climate change, renewable energy, environmental education, and capacity-building in technology are expanding the global pool of knowledge even as they are making positive impacts on local lives.
As we celebrate the International Day of Peace, we recognize that promoting peaceful practice is at the core of respecting human rights, basic freedoms and the values of tolerance and equity. Youth in particular are encouraged to initiate educational programs and promote the values of sustainable development for future generations so as to improve people’s lives for the better.
We believe that the achievement of sustainable peace is a collective responsibility and that “everyone has a stake and everyone has a contribution to make in order to achieve peace!”
Simple actions can be of a big change, and everyone can contribute to positive change by taking the lead of initiative!
Fetching the lines of this article was already your beginning.
See more about Dar Si Hmad’s Environmental Youth Ambassadors program and how they promote for peace in their inspired way: https://eyadarsihmad.wordpress.com/

Friday, September 16, 2016

International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

Dar Si Hmad is pleased to welcome guest contributor Oumhani Benhima, an Environmental Youth Ambassador. Oumhani wrote a piece showcasing the importance of the ozone layer to celebrate today's  International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. Oumhani's French version, published below, was translated into English by former Fulbright English Teaching Assistant and Dar Si Hmad Intern Zeke Caceres. Thanks to Oumhani and Zeke!

Today, we celebrate the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. Dar Si Hmad, in collaboration with the Environmental Youth Ambassadors, has taken up the challenge of climate change.

It is not by coincidence that the United Nations General Assembly has chosen September 16 for this day of action and raising awareness to the problems of the protection of the ozone layer. September 16 is the anniversary of the signing of the Montreal Protocol in 1987.

This year’s International Day for the Perseveration of the Ozone Layer is celebrated under the theme “Ozone Layer and Climate: Restored by a World United.”

Industrial gases used in refrigerators and aerosols (a type of chlorofluorocarbon or hydrochlorofluorocarbons) are responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer - an atmospheric 'blanket' necessary for life on Earth that allows for the filtration of ultraviolet rays. To protect the ozone layer, the international community has set targets for the progressive elimination of these chemical substances. Between 1988 and 2010, the international community has reduced the emission of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) by more than 80% under the Montreal Protocol. These efforts have allowed us to see an improvement in the state of the ozone layer, especially around the Antarctica. According to scientists, the hole currently there could return to its pre-1980 state after 2050.

The protection of the ozone layer also is linked to climate change, as the gas that destroys it is a strong greenhouse gas. Consequently, the important fight that has been undertaken against gas destructive to the ozone layer is also a beneficial action for the climate.

To fight against climate change, the COP (Conference of Parties) was created and set in place to frame the efforts of the participating countries. In November 2016, COP 22 will take place in Marrakech, Morocco. This  international reunion has already been announced as the “Conference of Action,” following the decisions taken by the previous edition of COP held in Paris.

One of the saddest realities of climate challenge is its unequal impact. Already marginalized groups bear the weight off the environmental degradation.

Acknowledging this fact, Dar Si Hmad has taken up the challenge of collecting potable fog water with its unique project in North Africa.

Some forty nets have been installed a an altitude of 1,225 meters at the peak of the Boutmezguida Mountain which overlooks five villages in the semi-arid region of Sidi Ifni. These nets capture droplets contained in the dense fog which surrounds the mountain. The drops are then treated, mixed with groundwater and transported via pipelines to the five villages below. This technique avoids a need for the inhabitants to journey several kilometers to get water.

In parallel with this project, Dar Si Hmad organizes the mobile Water School. The Water School was conceived with one main objective: to use the fog project as an entry to teaching through which children learn not only about water but also discover the natural world via scientific tools and see this world in a different way.

Dar Si Hmad, in partnership with the Regional Delegation of Education in Sidi Ifni, organizes activities and diverse courses in the rural schools of Aït Baamrane. The students learn to understand many aspects related to the theme of water, as well as the interdependence of ecosystems. The adopted approach aims to engage the students entirely: spirits, hearts and bodies.

Lastly, but certainly not least, the environmental program directed by ambitious youth, under the auspices of Dar Si Hmad, Environmental Youth Ambassadors (EYAs). Until now, the EYAs have contributed to the 2016 Water School, organized two community events with more than 60 young participants, and held events to raise awareness through visual narration and environmental journalism to advocate about environmental matters in southwest Morocco at a local and international scale that have not received attention or substantial publicity. Especially as the COP 22 Conference held in Marrakech in November 2016 approaches, this type of initiative will be a significant contribution to the dialogues and commitments of COP 22, showcasing the dynamic efforts of young Moroccans who raise awareness in the fight against climate change.

The protective ozone barrier makes live on our planet possible. It contributes in a large way to the fight against climate change. From the importance of this day of action and awareness which is an opportunity to exchange our experiences and results, let us take this opportunity to make people more conscious of this responsibility!

Simple daily acts can allow the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. By consuming energy and our daily daily purchases, we directly or indirectly provoke the emission of greenhouse gases. Therefore, let us protect our planet!

Let’s buy more sustainable products!
Let’s reduce our electric consumption!
Let’s sort out our waste!
And let’s change our transportation habits!

Aujourd’hui nous célébrons la journée internationale de la protection de la couche d’Ozone. Dar Si Hmad, en collaboration avec ses Jeunes Ambassadeurs de l’environnement ont relevé le défi du changement climatique.
Ce n'est pas un hasard si l'assemblée générale des Nations Unies a choisi la date du 16 septembre pour cette journée d'action et de sensibilisation aux problèmes de la protection de la couche d'ozone(http://www.un.org/fr/events/ozoneday/). En effet, le 16 septembre est la journée anniversaire de la signature du Protocole de Montréal en 1987.
La Journée internationale pour la préservation de la couche d'ozone de cette année est célébrée sous le thème  ‘’Couche d’ozone et climat : agissons tous ensemble pour les rétablir’’.
Les gaz industriels utilisés dans les réfrigérateurs ou les aérosols (de type chlorofluorocarbures, ou hydro chlorofluorocarbures) sont responsables de l’appauvrissement de la couche d’ozone, alors que celle-ci est indispensable à la vie sur terre et permet la filtration des rayons ultraviolets. Pour protéger la couche d’ozone, la communauté internationale s’est donné pour objectif l’élimination progressive de ces substances chimiques. Entre 1988 et 2010 elle a, grâce au protocole de Montréal, réduit les émissions de chlorofluorocarbures (CFC) de plus de 80 %. Ces efforts ont ainsi permis de constater l’amélioration de l’état de la couche d’ozone qui, selon les scientifiques, devrait retrouver ses propriétés d’avant 1980 d’ici à 2050 pour les latitudes moyennes.
La protection de la couche d’ozone a également un lien avec les changements climatiques, car les gaz qui la détruisent sont aussi de puissant gaz à effet de serre. Par conséquent, l’importante lutte qui a été menée contre les gaz destructeurs de la couche d’ozone a aussi été une action bénéfique pour le climat. 
Pour lutter contre les changements climatiques, les COP (Conference Of Parties) ont été créés et mises en place pour encadrer les efforts des pays qui sont Parties à la Convention. En novembre 2016 se déroulera la COP 22 (http://www.cop22.ma/fr ) au Maroc, à Marrakech. Cette nouvelle réunion internationale est déjà annoncée comme la « Conférence de l’action », suite aux décisions prises lors de l’édition précédente de la COP  qui s’est tenue à Paris.
L'une des réalités les plus tristes du changement climatique est son impact inégal. Des groupes déjà marginalisés supportent tout le poids de la dégradation de l'environnement.
Reconnaissant ce fait, l’association Dar Si Hmad a relevé le défi de collecter l’eau potable du brouillard avec son projet unique en Afrique du nord.
Une quarantaine de filets ont été installés à 1 225 mètres d'altitude, au sommet de la montagne Boutmezguida qui surplombe cinq villages de la région au climat semi-aride de Sidi Ifni. Ces filets récupèrent les gouttelettes contenues dans le dense brouillard qui enveloppe la montagne. Les gouttes sont ensuite traitées, mélangées à de l'eau de forage puis transportées via des canalisations aux cinq villages en contrebas. Cette technique évite aux habitants de parcourir chaque jour plusieurs kilomètres pour se ravitailler en eau. 
En parallèle avec ce projet, Dar Si Hmad dirige une école de l'eau mobile. L'école de l'eau est conçue avec un objectif principal, celui d’utiliser le concept de l’école de l’eau comme moyen d’enseignement par lequel les enfants apprennent non seulement à propos de l’eau, mais aussi découvrent le monde naturel via des outils scientifiques et voient ce monde de manière différente.
Dar Si Hmad, en partenariat avec la Délégation régionale de l’enseignement à Ifni, organise des activités et divers cours dans les écoles rurales de Aït Ba Amrane. Les élèves apprennent à comprendre tous les aspects liés au thème de l’eau , ainsi que l’interdépendance des écosystèmes. La démarche adoptée vise à engager les  enfants à part entière, esprits, cœurs et corps.
Dernier point, mais non des moindres, le programme environnemental dirigé par des jeunes ambitieux sous l’encadrement de l’association Dar Si Hmad; Jeunes Ambassadeurs de l’Environnement (EYA) qui, jusqu’à présent, ont contribué à l’école de l’eau 2016, organisé deux évènements communautaires avec plus de 60 jeunes participants, et mènent des activités de sensibilisation à travers la narration visuelle et le journalisme environnemental pour plaider en faveur des questions environnementales au sud-ouest du Maroc à l'échelle locale et internationale qui n'a pas reçu une attention ou une publicité importante. D'autant plus que la conférence COP22 qui se tiendra à Marrakech en Novembre 2016 approche ,ce genre d’initiative sera une contribution importante aux dialogues et aux engagements de la COP22, mettant en vedette les efforts dynamiques des jeunes marocains qui élèvent la sensibilisation et la lutte contre le changement climatique.
Cette barrière protectrice rend possible la vie sur notre planète. Elle contribue aussi de manière significative à la lutte contre le changement climatique. D’où l’importance de cette journée d’action et de sensibilisation qui est une occasion pour échanger nos expériences et nos résultats, saisissons cette opportunité pour rendre les gens plus conscients de cette responsabilité !
De simples petits gestes quotidiens peuvent permettre de réduire les émissions de gaz à effet de serre. En consommant de l'énergie et par nos achats quotidiens, nous provoquons directement ou indirectement des émissions de gaz à effet de serre.  Alors, préservons notre planète !
Achetons des produits plus respectueux !
Réduisons notre consommation électrique !
Trions nos déchets !
Et changeons nos habitudes de transport !

Thursday, September 8, 2016

International Literacy Day

This post was written by Environmental Youth Ambassador Abdelhaq Ait Boulhous in honor of International Literacy Day. Happy reading, writing, and learning from our team of young sustainability journalists!

At first glance, "literacy" would seem to be a term that everyone understands. But at the same time, literacy as a concept has proved to be both complex and dynamic, continuing to be interpreted and defined in a multiplicity of ways. And according to Merriam-Webster website, "Literacy" means to be able to read and write, and also the knowledge that relates to a specified subject.

Fifty years ago, UNESCO officially proclaimed 8 September as International Literacy Day to actively mobilize the international community and to promote literacy as an instrument to empower individuals, communities and societies.

Learning to read and write is a fundamental right, protected by international human rights law. Yet, 38% of African adults are illiterate – and two-thirds of these are women. Unequal access to education and low literacy means that women have trouble accessing careers and the public section, making them more likely to get married at an early age and have few avenues for future independence or personal growth. This, in turn, negatively impacts their children – Africa is the only continent where more than half of parents are not able to help their children with homework due to their own illiteracy.

There is a proverb that says “You educate a boy, you educate a man. You educate a girl, you educate a generation". Dar Si Hmad, an active NGO in Southwest Morocco dedicated to sustainable livelihoods and the empowerment of rural communities, recognizes the importance of literacy. It thus developed programs like the Girls’E-Learning project to help girls from rural villages study and prepare their exams. The Girls' E-Learning program uses technologies to help girls succeed, have access to a good education, and improve the region’s high school dropout rate. Participants have the chance to learn and receive lessons online, improving their literacy in the formal Arabic and French they will be tested on in exams.

Literacy for younger children is addressed through our “Water School”, targeted at primary schools. This program, full of lessons & workshops, makes students of the future understand their environment as a huge space of many objects. It modules include animal & plant biology, recycling, pollution, the water cycle, and sanitation. The program gives Dar Si Hmad the chance to discover and encourage talented kids who have skills like public speaking, theater, and painting. In a few months, the Water School Curriculum will be available for free online, part of the organization’s ongoing attempts to share resources and ideas.

Older adults in the bled (Moroccan countryside) are supported through trainings for women in Aït Baâmrane, Southwest Morocco. These literacy days help women with basic numeracy and literacy skills, enabling them to use their mobile phones to text – a much cheaper alternative to phone calls. The women are now exploring ways to use their enhanced skills for income-generating activities like an argan co-operative.

Bridging the urban center of Agadir where Dar Si Hmad’s main offices are and the bled where much of the programming take place is a new initiative I represent. In May 2016, Dar Si Hmad launched the Environmental Youth Ambassadors, an innovative program bringing 7 RISE program participants from different parts of Morocco to be involved in the NGO’s activities. Our work has focused on media and environmental literacy, using visual content & online campaigns as a way to communicate based on events and sensitization.

For all those who can read this – Happy International Literacy Day! Today, I encourage you to take the time to improve your own literacy. Those of us who have the tools to read and write can improve our subject-area literacy about environmental issues. Take a minute to learn about COP22, the international climate change negotiations happening in Morocco in November. Or explore and support our Water School and Women’s Empowerment programs.

And lastly, here’s to all of the projects around the world working to make sure a greater number of us can read, write, and enjoy the power of written communication by this time next year. I am excited by Dar Si Hmad’s work and I hope you’ll join us in working to improve the lives of our communities, in Morocco and around the world.

Friday, August 12, 2016

International Youth Day

This post was written by Mahdi Lafram, one of our Environmental Youth Ambassadors. Happy International Youth Day, Mahdi! We are so proud of you!!

Today we celebrate the International Day for Youth! Youth as social, political and economic catalysts.,Throughout time, it is undeniably true that young people have never before had the same kinds resources and abilities to truly change the world. We are seeing the power of young people from Silicon Valley technology entrepreneurs to Middle East social justice movements to internet & social media influencers…and beyond.
The 2016 Theme, “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption” focuses on the highly important role of youth in ensuring poverty eradication and accomplishing sustainable development through environmentally responsible production and consumption.
Sustainable consumption involves using products and services that meet the basic needs of today’s communities while protecting the needs of future generations. The development and promotion of individual choices and actions that increase the eco-efficiency of consumption and minimize waste is critical to achieving equitable socioeconomic development.
Yet, many young men and women face obstacles to certain green habits. Obstacles to sustainable consumption choices include the high prices of goods and services and a lack of information about the available options. By focusing on the social development dimensions of sustainable consumption and production, this year’s theme emphasizes a multidimensional approach to sustainability.
This brings us to highlight our current youth-driven environmental programs that correlate with the International Youth Day 2016 Theme. Over the last few months, a group of seven young activists have been promoting environmental sustainability in their communities through visual storytelling, social media and local events. So far, our Environmental Youth Ambassadors (EYA) have contributed to the 2016 Water School, organized two community events with more than 60 youth participants, and are leading advocacy efforts through blogging and social media. With original, multilingual, multimedia content including articles, photos, videos and infographics, the EYAs are challenging the status quo surrounding the environment and natural resources. The Ambassadors participated in the Mediterranean Youth Climate Forum (MYCF) that was held in Tangier last July and one of their pictures was selected as a semifinalist in the worldwide Global Giving 2016 Photo Contest. Follow their adventures here.
Furthermore, this year, Dar Si Hmad (DSH) also successfully implemented its third Water School, an environmental education program for children in the region of Aït Baamrane using innovative teaching methodologies including workshops, hands-on activities as well as games and field trips. The Water School’s STEM-based curriculum explores the concepts of water, sustainability, conservation, and environmental challenges. During the program, children learn by doing, develop communication skills, interact with each other, meet new people, and discover various topics. Watch the YouTube video series about this life-changing experience here.
Last but not least is the RISE & THRIVEprofessional development program. With the generous support of the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), Dar Si Hmad’s urban Agadir training program was a great success, as demonstrated by participants’ commitment, personal growth and considerable achievements. Through workshops, conferences and extracurricular activities, students developed leadership and teamwork abilities and acquired technology, business and financial skills. Two small grants of $500 were awarded to selected participants in order to support the projects they developed over the course of the program. Through this initiative, Dar Si Hmad prepared students for job opportunities, sparked their entrepreneurial spirit and above all, grew citizens that are taking the lead in Morocco’s future. Watch highlights from this eight-month journey here.
Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders – and today’s. Through the Environmental Youth Ambassadors (EYA), Water School, and RISE & THRIVE programs, Dar Si Hmad is partnering with Moroccan youth to be positive social change catalysts in their communities. From all the Dar Si Hmad staff, volunteers and community members, happy International Youth Day to them and to you!

Monday, August 1, 2016

EYA at Mediterranean Youth Climate Forum (MYCF)

Today, a guest post from one of our Environmental Youth Ambassadors, Mahdi Lefram! To hear more from the EYA team, check out FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. And be sure to follow their blog for environmental news, opionions, poetry, and more: https://eyadarsihmad.wordpress.com/blog/.

On Sunday,  July 17th, 2016, I proudly represented Dar Si Hmad’s Environmental Ambassadors (EYA) program at Mediterranean Youth Climate Forum (MYCF) that took place in Tangier, Morocco and had a purpose toconnect young organizations and individuals engaged in civil society, entrepreneurship and politics from all the Mediterranean region, working on climate change issues.
MYCF (3)nnDuring this conference, I had the opportunity to attend high-level panels discussions and participate in instructive thematic workshops. In addition to that, the Forum was a great platform to discuss environment and climate change issues with fellow local and international participants.
Among prominent speakers were Mr. Idriss El Yazami, COP22’s Head of Civil Society Activities, Mr. Timothy Damon, YOUNGO Focal Point to the UNFCCC and Mr. Ilyas El Omari, Chairman of the Regional Council Tangiers-Tétouan-Al Hoceima. Engaging workshops were led by ClimateTracker.org and 350.org team around “How to Change The World With a Laptop: Become a Climate Journalist” and “Mobilizing Communities for Change: Challenges & Opportunities” respectively. The Forum witnessed the drafting and presentation of the first Mediterranean Youth Climate Network Charter by Founding Associations members.
Special thanks to Dar Si Hmad for their encouragements and generous support for sponsoring our participation to the Mediterranean Youth Climate Forum.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Introducing the Environmental Youth Ambassadors!!

We've been hinting at our new program in the past few blog posts. Today, we're happy to formally announce the Environmental Youth Ambassadors!

Our EYAs are seven RISE participants who have taken on an opportunity to work with Dar Si Hmad on environmental education and media. The EYAs joined our Water School to help teach young children in the ecologically fragile communities of Aït Baamrane the importance of conservation, resource management, and environmental protection. Following their experiences in the bled, the Environmental Youth Ambassadors are running a series of events in and around Agadir to engage their communities in environmental action.

In their own words, "Environmental Youth Ambassadors (EYA) is an environmental education and advocacy program established by Dar Si Hmd (DSH). 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 in November 2016 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."

Meet our seven Environmental Youth Ambassadors:

abdelAbdelhaq is a twenty-years old undergraduate student majoring in Management at Ibn Zohr University with interests in information technology. His environmental experience began in childhood while volunteering in beach clean-ups activities and was selected to represent his high school in a regional meeting organised by Surfrider Foundation discussing environmental issues such as pollution and animals extinction. Abdelhaq speaks Arabic, French & English.

Oumhani is a twenty-one years old, third-year student majoring in Environment, Energy, and Process Engineering at Ecole Nationale des Sciences Appliqués (ENSA) in Agadir. Passionate about environment and sustainability, she is an active member of Process Club where she worked on many projects and event related to the field. Oumhani speaks Arabic, English and French.

Salma was born in Safi but merrily lived her 20 years in 7 different regions all over Morocco, having the chance to appreciate the cultural, linguistic and natural diversity of the country. Salma is a nature enthusiast and always eager to invite the community to preserve the gifts of mother Nature through simple but impactful actions. She is passionate about languages and taught herself Korean, Spanish and German, and currently pursuing her studies at Ecole Nationale de Commerce et de Gestion (ENCG) in Agadir.

rkiaRkia was born in a town named Addar – Sidi M’Bark in Sidi Ifni. She graduated from Ibn Zohr University with a Bachelor’s degree in English Studies (Linguistics) in 2015. Rkia loves learning different languages and cultures as she speaks Tachelhit, Arabic, French and English and currently learning Italian and Spanish. She is fascinated by environment protection as “Our Mother Earth keeps serving us and it’s time to be keen, contribute, participate and make a positive change in our community”.

Mohamed is a twenty-one-year-old Agadir native pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Economics & Management at Ibn Zohr University. He is an alumnus Dar Si Hmad’s U.S.-MEPI RISE program and a member of RISE’s Journalism Club. Mohamed is passionate about environment, social work and art. He love playing chess, reading about scientific and philosophical subjects, photography, traveling and recently started playing Capoeira.

Mohamed is a twenty-years-old student from Tinghir, High Atlas Mountains-Morocco.  he is majoring in English Linguistics at Ibn Zohr University. He has had a passion for the environment and an interest in voluntary activities from a young age. This has led him to explore and volunteer in many environmental and social activities interacting mainly with little children; Mohamed believes in sustainable education and empowerment of the next generation, which is very essential in helping to build a sustainable future for all.
Born and raised in a small village near Ouled Teima region, Mahdi was the first one of his family to graduate from high school and go to college. Passionate about social activism and nonprofits, he led a registered local NGO is his home village and was an active member of several youth-led initiatives in Morocco. Mahdi was a 2015 U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Student Leader at Benedictine University (USA),  and currently studying at Ecole Nationale de Commerce et de Gestion (ENCG) in Agadir.

One of our graphic designers, Mahdi has visually summed up the EYAs:

The Moroccan Arabic word for yes is "eya". Our Environmental Youth Ambassadors say "yes" to environmental action in Morocco and around the world. We invite you to join them in their adventures leading up to COP22. Check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And be sure to follow their blog for environmental news, opionions, poetry, and more: https://eyadarsihmad.wordpress.com/blog/.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Desertification Day

Today marks the World Day to Combat Desertification. The 2016 theme focuses on inclusive participation to prevent land degradation. A global observance event is being held in Beijing, China to "Protect Earth, Restore Land, and Engage People". The United Nations and others are gathering to celebrate “The Belt and Road,” a project that promotes green and low-carbon infrastructure construction in cooperation with countries connected by the historic Silk Road. Around the world, researchers, farmers, policymakers, and communities are coming together to work against the destruction wreaked on ecosystems by human-induced soil degradation and land mismanagement.

To mark the day, Dar Si Hmad's new Environmental Youth Ambassadors are writing blogs and poems about Morocco's deserts and the global problem of desertification.

We are reposting one of their pieces here. Check out the EYA blog for the original post and more content from these local activists!!

From Environmental Youth Ambassador Salma Edrif:

More than 20 years after World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought was first proclaimed on January 30, 1995, deserts cover 63% of our planet.
However dry and dead they may appear, the African Sahara, Arab Desert, Great Sandy Desert, Thar Desert and even Antarctica Desert are homelands to biologically diverse ecosystems, a population of 2 million people and countless cultures that have made a home in the arid deserts.
In Morocco, 266 000 Km square is covered by desert. Through history, the desert has been Morocco’s gateway to the Sahara and the route of trade caravans linking the north of the continent with the south. It is the homeland of a 500 000 population and the beautiful Hassani culture.
Unfortunately, the surface of arid deserts is growing significantly, destroying countless ecosystems in the process. This is known as the desertification phenomenon.
According to the Princeton University Dictionary, desertification is defined as “the process of fertile land transforming into desert typically as a result of deforestation, drought or improper/inappropriate agriculture”.  
It is the expansion of biologically destroyed land at the expense of productive land, occuring mainly in dry lands when a land’s vegetation is destroyed and the land is no longer productive. Desertification is caused by several factors such as drought, climate change and especially the unhealthy overproduction and mismanagement of land. According to the United Nations, since 1990, about six million hectares of productive land have been lost around the world every year as the land becomes degraded and less fertile. An estimated 135 million people are at risk of being driven from their lands because of continuing desertification.
This phenomenon does not only affect land and ecosystems but also gives rise to social, economic and political tensions that can cause conflicts, further poverty and land degradation.
Therefore, practical and effective prevention measures against desertification are required in threatened areas. One such measure is Morocco’s National Charter for Environment and Sustainable Development, “Plan Maroc Vert”. The Charter was launched in 2010 and will form the framework for all future national environmental laws, guiding government officials on natural resources, the environment and sustainability.
In addition to law enforcement, effective solutions include preventing soil erosion through rational land management, planting and protecting windbreaks and shelterbelts of live plants, improving early warning systems and water resource management, and developing strategies that address poverty at its roots. This last is especially imporant because poverty forces people who depend on land for their livelihoods to overexploit the land for food, energy, housing and sources of income.
To help governements combat desertification, small individual actions such water conservation, planting trees and donating seeds to poor farmers families could be taken.
The wildness and desolation of natural deserts are the source of their charm and beauty; however, this charm is lost when human-induced deserts caused by overproduction and climate change destroy other ecosystems, and in the process, the life of millions.
Last but not least, don’t hesitate to learn more about UN’s theme for this year’s World’s Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.