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.

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.

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