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, April 21, 2020

Water in the age of coronavirus

In the age of a pandemic, there is one piece of advice repeated again and again by health and government officials: wash your hands. Specifically, wash your hands for 20 seconds with clean water and soap.

But in Morocco – a country where water resources have fallen by 71% since 1980 – access to clean water and sanitation can be challenging, especially for those in the mountains and rural areas. It is during unprecedented times like these that we are reminded of the importance of Dar Si Hmad’s fog harvesting project: a project that captures fog and turns it into clean water for Morocco’s most vulnerable.

For residents in the Anti-Atlas mountains, close to Sidi Ifni, many have to make hours-long trek to get to and from their nearest water source. This trek is most often made by women, who are considered as providers within the household, who can only bring back so much water after a long trek. Access to clean water for those in these regions seems to be, unfortunately, a luxury.

Clean water, however, is a human right. It is a human right that can save lives during the time of a global pandemic. After all, washing your hands and limiting activity outside the home are powerful measures to prevent the contraction and/or spread of coronavirus. But practicing these preventative measures is not easy for those who must travel hours for water. In Morocco, a stay-at-home order was put in place preventing all non-essential travel outside of the house.

Despite temporarily closing our offices in Agadir, we at Dar Si Hmad are carrying on our work to make sure some of Morocco’s vulnerable communities continue having access to clean water. Most importantly, we are currently in the preparation phase for building new CoudFishers – or, fog collectors – in Taloust, an area adjacent to the Boutmezguida fog collection site. Once this construction is done, Dar Si Hmad will be able to provide 32 tons of water a day to 12 additional rural villages of Southwest Morocco.

But the work does stop here, the local communities do come together to support one another in mutual aid. That is why Dar Si Hmad has donated the support proceedings of fog-water for the entire month of March to the beneficiaries.  We continue the tradition of Si Hmad Derhem who, in dire times of need, showed amazing support for these communities. 

Even after the age of coronavirus, however, there will still be work to do. The effects of climate change – which, in Morocco, include tougher, longer and harder droughts – will cause more and more people to risk losing their access to clean water as well as their source of livelihood. Additionally, experts warn that climate change may exacerbate the frequency and spread of diseases like the coronavirus. With so much uncertainty and risk, one thing that is clear is the need for projects like Dar Si Hmad’s fog harvesting project that provide access to clean water. 

Written by: Gari De Ramos, Dar Si Hmad Intern

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