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, April 14, 2021

Dar Si Hmad March 2021 Highlights

You will be hearing from us all over this April as we have been at work, relentlessly, last month! 

Allow us to get you a tour of the highlights of March 2021!


As part of our fog harvesting project extension in Taloust, the foundations for a water cistern were implanted  by the provincial directory of agriculture in Id Bighiden village.

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A new experimental Cloudfisher was installed on top of Tabtist Mountain.  This spot is believed to have a high potential for fog harvesting.

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Our office Manager, Ms. Samira Arjdal, the fog project’s manager, Mr. Mounir Abbar, and our two rural project coordinators, Mr. Mohamed Hammou-Ali and Mr. Hussein Soussane organized a visit to ZINCO company in Fez to benefit from a training on prepaid meters we will be utilizing henceforth to connect more households to our fog harvesting system.

 

Mr. Hicham Aoumat, from the company Green Solutions paid  a visit to our fog harvesting system to study the possibility of automating the water distribution network.

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The members of the Tiznit Association of the Technicians of the Building Sector organized a field trip to the fog harvesting site.

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Organic harvest is already being produced in Agdal Id Achour Pedagogical Farm, and the plan to construct Dar Si Hmad’s indigenous seeds bank is ongoing!

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A beneficiary of Afous Ghissiki’s agroecology training is also witnessing promising results from the application of the techniques he learned  the previous months. In fact, he has already started commercializing his organic harvest which generates  a decent income for the start.

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In addition, GRACE program online sessions with our intern Elyssa Wrubel were continuing in March.

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And the preparations for the RISE program that we launched last Saturday were developing quickly.

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And finally, a small surprise birthday party was organized at Dar Si Hmad office to celebrate our administration and finances manager, Ms. Khadija Changa’s birthday, early on the last Friday of the month.

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For more details on Dar Si Hmad’s projects and activities, follow us on our social media pages!


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

RISE Eco Mill 2021: Building the Mill

            

from left to right: Mr.Jack Carew, DSH's volunteerand CELAR student, Ms. Salwa El Haouti, DSH's communications officer, and Ms. Samira Arjdal, DSH's office manager. And in the chat room, Ms. Khadija Amahal, RISE program coordinator

           Since the successful closing of RISE ECO-AYA (Ecological Advocacy Youth Action) last month, the RISE team has been working diligently to execute the next RISE iteration, RISE Eco Mill, scheduled to begin this Saturday, April 10. This iteration of the program will continue RISE’s central mandate of promoting environmental activism and awareness in the Souss Massa region, while centering a special focus on entrepreneurship and startup development.

Furthermore, RISE Eco Mill is situated squarely within the mission of Dar Si Hmad, and furthers our commitment to the empowerment of young people and protection of the environment of southern Morocco. After significant deliberation, the RISE team landed on Eco Mill as the most appropriate theme for this iteration of RISE. This new edition of RISE that specifically focuses on environmental issues and youth entrepreneurship will lead to the realization of the Dar Si Hmad’s goals, and create outsize impact in the Souss Massa region.

As RISE is committed to creating equitable opportunities for participation, our team members travelled to a number of universities and organizations in the greater Agadir area in order to deliver detailed presentations about RISE Eco Mill and distribute application information. Beyond simply recruiting participants in the RISE program, these conversations served to spread awareness of Dar Si Hmad’s activities in the region and opportunities for environmental activism. In addition to live presentations, the RISE team distributed informational materials, including a technical data sheet, physically to numerous local universities and digitally via social media. Our outreach yielded myriad applicants possessing diverse backgrounds in physical and social sciences, humanities, and business. The RISE team completed interviewing the applicants and making their final selections over the past week. RISE Eco Mill beneficiaries represent a diverse group of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral students, as well as recent graduates, with wide-ranging ideas and issues that they intend to address. 

The program will consist of a series of trainings by Moroccan academics, community leaders, and business professionals concerning environmental issues in the region and best practices for startup business development. These environmental leaders are graciously volunteering their time to lead informative workshops. After identifying the most pressing environmental challenges, RISE beneficiaries will synthesize skills from the various workshops to develop their own enterprises presenting solutions to these challenges. Our beneficiaries will transform gaps in environmental action into opportunities for private industry, and support further youth engagement with environmental issues. 

At the close of RISE Eco Mill, beneficiaries will pitch their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of judges. Beyond serving as an opportunity to practice their public speaking skills, the pitch session serves as a model of a common task that the young entrepreneurs participating in RISE will practice throughout their business careers. Each pitch will receive live feedback from the various judges, each an expert in their respective environmental field. 

Ultimately, RISE Eco Mill beneficiaries will implement the information and skills they gain over the coming months into their own projects addressing the most pressing environmental issues in the region. The implementation phase is critical, as Dar Si Hmad believes that students learn the most as they apply the learnings from each training in a hands-on fashion. While the projects may not be realized until months or years into the future, our beneficiaries will have the tools to successfully design and carry out their own meaningful environmental solution after completing RISE Eco Mill.


Written by: Jack Carew, Dar Si Hmad's volunteer and CELAR student


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The UN 2020 Water and Climate Change report summary - Chapter 11: Water Governance for Resilience to climate Change


The eleventh chapter of the UN 2020 Water and Climate Change report states that good governance is key to improving water resources management to adapt and mitigate climate change. Good governance consists of political will, leadership, and action, the understanding that water and climate cut across the entire economy, the importance of inclusive participation and transparency, the role of poverty and inequality in exacerbating vulnerability to climate-related water crises. 


Water governance determines “who gets water, when, and how much.”  The report stresses that governments are not the sole providers of water to people, especially in low-income settings. Instead, the report puts forth a ‘whole-of-society’ approach which recognizes the increasing role of non-state actors in providing water. With increased competition over water resources, however, the need for strong governance, oversight, and coordination in water management is heightened. It is especially important for cross-sectoral stakeholders to be engaged in water resources management, and for water policy to link to national and international climate change policy. 


To improve water management, the report recommends three things: 1) greater public participation to discuss and manage climate risks; 2) building adaptive capacities at multiple levels; and 3) prioritizing risk reduction for socially vulnerable groups. 



Public participation is increasingly important given the increasing variability in the effects of climate change. Making sure that all are involved in the agenda-setting, decision-making, and monitoring of climate change is vital to ensure people are safe from the effects of climate change. The need for public participation is highlighted in Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and sets out three fundamental rights: "access to information, access to public participation and access to justice, as key pillars of sound environmental governance."


Other agents of change include young people, who are increasingly concerned about climate change as demonstrated by the 2019 Global Youth Strike, where 1.4 million students and young adults across 120 countries left school and workplaces to demand climate action. Youth have also been able use local initiatives to raise awareness and advocate for policy recommendations. 



In order to build adaptive capacities at multiple levels, the report recommends ‘adaptive management,’ which is a decision-making process that functions even in uncertainty. Adaptive management understands there is variability in the projected effects of climate change, so they work largely with ‘no-regret’ adaptation measures that have benefits regardless of the impacts of climate change. For example, repairing leaks in urban systems is good for human safety and water sanitation, regardless of the presence of climate change. Under adaptive management, risk assessments should take a bottom-up approach and account for the risks and needs of multiple stakeholders. 



Finally, the report breaks down the importance of reducing vulnerability by combating poverty and inequality. Women and girls from minority ethnic groups, the poor, Indigenous people, and those in remote areas are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The report advocates for a human rights-based approach to development, which includes good governance and poverty alleviation. 

Written by: Gari De Ramos, former DSH intern


Monday, March 15, 2021

Dar Si Hmad February 2021 Highlights

It’s already mid-March, and you are wondering if Dar Si Hmad keeps any highlights from the previous month? Yes, of course it does! 

Besides the NGO’s everyday work on the fog harvesting project and its extension in Taloust, the work on our pedagogical farm, the creation of the indigenous seeds bank, the follow-up and support to the beneficiaries of Afous Ghissiki agroecology training, and the many micro-projects it had designed to benefit students and youth on a personal, an academic and a professional level, the following events stood out of our usual endeavor:


  • The finals of RISE program Fall 2020 Edition. This latter was entitled ECO-AYA, which stands for Ecological Advocacy Youth Action. The training was two months long, and was all held online, except for the finals and closing ceremony that were organized in the premises of Dar Si Hmad. The performance of the finalists was satisfactory, and the title of ECO-AYA ambassador was granted to Jaouad Lougouail, who advocated for reducing the use of plastic in Souss Massa region.


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  • DSH’s CELAR students made us a Tagine! Learning the names of veggies in Darija is essential to live and shop in the Moroccan Souks, that’s why in Dar Si Hmad’s language center we always privilege hands-on learning methods. The two fulbrighters taking Darija, Tashelhiit and Classical Arabic lessons in CELAR cooked a delicious Soussi Tagine and a Moroccan salad for the office’s staff last month. 


  • A training on the geographic information systems. DSH’s office Manager, Ms. Samira Arjdal, and our fog harvesting project manager, Mr. Mounir Abbar, benefited in February from the aforementioned training that was provided to them by the geography researcher and PhD candidate, University of Cadi Ayyad,  Mr. Youssef Bammou. The mastery of the Geographic Information System is crucial for the development of our rural projects.


  • We have a new drawing hung in the office! You surely recall Ms. Soukaina Boukerdi, our graphist guest from L’3mART, the event in which we celebrated Id Yennayer, the new amazigh year. The drawing of the musician Rais Lhaj Belaid that she brought us for the occasion, now makes part of our office’s decor.

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Would you like to learn more about Dar Si Hmad’s highlights of each month before the month is over, follow us on our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn pages!


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The UN 2020 Water and Climate Change report summary - Chapter 10: Regional Perspectives

 

The tenth chapter of the UN 2020 Water and Climate Change discusses existing processes and challenges in the world from different regional perspectives. Despite the water-related impacts of climate change transcending borders, regional perspectives are often missing from climate change dialogue, agreements, funding mechanisms, and action. Instead, climate change policy is often framed at the national level.

The report breaks down water-related climate change activities by region, but this summary will only focus on North Africa and West Asia because of Dar Si Hmad’s work in Morocco. The region’s vulnerability to climate change is high across the region, but vulnerability increases in southern areas like the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, and the southwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula.

In North Africa and West Asia, the effects of climate change intersect with complicated socio-economic and political dynamics that affect water at subnational, national, and regional levels. These new dynamics can come from the politicization and weaponization of water resources and displacement, particularly for countries experiencing violent conflict. What further complicates climate change and water management in the region is how “almost all Arab states “are highly interdependent,” because of their shared reliance on transboundary water resources, making integrated regional water policy difficult to achieve. To add further complications, the World Bank estimates that water scarcity exacerbated by climate change will cost up to 6% of the region’s gross domestic product by 2050.

When considering appropriate policy responses in the region, the report focused on Jordan, Mauritania, and Tunisia. All three countries have included water-related measures in their national plan, NDCs, and Adaptation Plan – all at the national and transboundary level. Morocco’s neighbor Tunisia is part of a project called Regional Cooperation in the Water Sector in the Maghreb (CREM), which is funded by German development agencies BMZ and GIZ, along with the Sahara and Sahel Observatory. The goal of the CREM is to improve water resources in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia by improving regional cooperation and information-sharing platforms.

The report suggests regional communities around the world should assess the impacts, vulnerabilities, and potential adaptation measures for countries. This is done successfully with the Regional Initiative for the Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources and Socio-Economic Vulnerability in the Arab Region (RICCAR), which prioritizes strengthening institutions to act on climate change in the national and regional scale.

Countries and regions should be adopting integrated approaches, which strengthen existing infrastructure across sectors and take action at all levels. Some examples of integrated approaches include investing in better and more accessible information or transporting and treating water, as well as harnessing both adaptation and mitigation benefits.

Instead of regional integrated approaches, many countries operate with nationally determined contributions (NDCs) from the Paris Agreement. Although water-related issues are the most often-cited priority for NDCs adaptation measures, there are variations in how water is mentioned. Countries within the Economic Commission for Europe, for example, place little emphasis on water and instead focus on mitigation measures with their NDCs and have transboundary climate-water initiatives. On the other hand, more than half the NDCs for countries like those in Economic and Social Commission for West Asia do mention water-related measures for institution-building and infrastructure.

Overall, however, there is room to improve the water-related measures of NDCs. The report stated that only half of countries had climate change strategists who were aware of the water sectors plans to adapt and mitigate climate change. Additionally, not all countries are committed to water conservation, especially the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific countries. All regions, however, have few concrete proposals that relate to water-related climate adaptation.

Written by: Gari DeRamos, Dar Si Hmad's former Intern
 


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Dar Si Hmad January 2021 Highlights

Should you have guessed that l’3mART n’Id Yennayer is what made the highlight of Dar Si Hmad in January 2021, then you are right!! In addition to this inspiring celebration, other events took place this January in DSH and find them below.

You’re out of the loop? No worries! read through this article to get all the information!

    

So, let us start with this special event that took place in Dar Si Hmad at the beginning of January. We named it L’3mART, an Amazigh word that signifies “presence, assembly, charisma or company.” A two-day webinar discussing the history and the symbolism of the new Amazigh Year celebration  called Id Yennayer by North Africans. The event included also a culinary component, performance by some artists; everyone enriching this event in a special way.

Watching the recording of these insightful webinars is like a door leading to an inspiring cultural celebration. Click on the following hyperlinks to take you straight to them!

Day 1 Webinar   - Day 2 Webinar

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Before the diffusion of L’3mART, Dr. Jamila Bargach, the E.D of Dar Si Hmad, signed a partnership with a third space named Espace Hashtag, to introduce our organization to their followers in a live video on Instagram. Espace Hahstag is an open space that welcomes and encourages young people to meet the space’s mission of  promoting entrepreneurship, engage in social economy, and create networking possibilities for its members -- and of course all of it in a fun and friendly atmosphere. 

The live idea was part of the communications plans of Espace Hashtag to have also celebrated L’3mART distantly with us from their center. But that wasn’t the only thing; on its end Dar Si Hmad released 8 videos with powerful Amazigh sayings that prepared the ground for the upcoming webinar’s theme. To watch them, check our Youtube Playlist entitled L’3mART !

Much logistical planning was  going on behind the scenes to make this event successful.

Enough talking now about L’3mART and let us tell you about the other highlights of January 2020 as we got back into the swing of things!

Again, Dar Si Hmad has welcomed a new employee to the organization. Leo, who's very special and resembles none of the staff. It is a German shepherd to be the guardian of our pedagogical farm and all the precious organic goods that grow on it. Unlike its fellow humans, Leo doesn’t need to learn the ropes, he came fully prepared for his new job position.

Two students and volunteers also joined Dar Si Hmad this month. Their names are Delana Sobhani and Jack Carew. They are studying Darija, Classical Arabic and Tamazight through our CELAR program, but also delivering English language lessons to our staff. Delana and Jack are offering these volunteering hours during their research period that is part of the US Fulbright program.

And finally come the in-person meetings with different state institutions to better serve our developmental and educational services, projects and programs.

On the 6th of January, a meeting was held at the Regional Directorate of the Ministry of Education of Agadir Ida Outanane Province. Dr. Jamila Bargach and Dar Si Hmad’s office manager Samira Arjdal discussed the terms of the partnership agreement to be held between the two parties in the near future. The core of which is developing educational programs for the benefit of middle school and high school students in the province.

On the 6th of January, a meeting was held at the Regional Directorate of the Ministry of Education of Agadir Ida Outanane Province. Dr. Jamila Bargach and Dar Si Hmad’s office manager Samira Arjdal discussed the terms of the partnership agreement to be held between the two parties in the near future. The core of which is developing educational programs for the benefit of middle school and high school students in the province.

And our all-time projects continue despite all the unusual conditions relating to the pandemic.

The fog harvesting project

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Botany tests in Foundation Si Hmad Derhem for Agdal Id-Aachour Pedagogical Farm

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 Grace Online English language lessons



Monday, January 25, 2021

The UN 2020 Water and Climate Change report summary - Chapter 9: Water - Climate - Energy - Food - Environment Nexus

 

The ninth chapter of the UN 2020 Water and Climate Change report focuses on the links between energy, food and agriculture, the environment, and the effects of climate change on water. The report stresses that adaptation and mitigation measures in one sector can, and are likely to influence water demand, thus affecting water availability for other sectors. Because this link between sectors, groups must assess and respond to the effects of climate change, and such an action has to be done as a collective. By working together, groups can combine their disciplinary knowledge to produce changes across sectors.

The energy perspective
The water sector requires energy and energy production requires water. The water sector’s electricity use is expected to double by 2040, but this can be avoided if water demand decreases (e.g. promoting lifestyle changes) and water management efficiency increases(e.g. making water infrastructure climate-resilient). The energy sector’s water use comes largely from growing biofuels, mining fossil fuels, and the cooling process in thermal power generation. By shifting to alternative energy sources that require relatively little water such as wind and solar photovoltaic, the energy sector can reduce its water consumption.

The food and agriculture perspective

69% of global water withdrawals come from the agriculture sector, highlighting the need for improved water efficiency in the sector. Improved efficiency will not only lead to increased water availability, but also reduce energy needed for getting water. By reducing the agriculture sector’s water and energy demands, they can lower greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.


Irrigation is a commonly understood method to increase water efficiency in agriculture, but it does not actually lead to water savings at larger scales. This is because farms that produce an already large amount of crops will take these water savings and produce even more crops with the same volume of water as before. The lack of actual water savings highlights the importance of conservation agriculture, which allows soils to retain more water and reduce water and energy demand.


Additionally, the agriculture sector and consumers produce a significant amount of food waste that contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions. By reducing food waste, we can also mitigate climate change.


The land use and ecosystem perspective

Healthy ecosystems can capture carbon far better than human efforts to do the same, but degraded ecosystems can in their turn be a source of carbon emissions. These ecosystems must be maintained and rehabilitated with improved water management. Efforts to improve land use, such as reforestation, will also impact ecosystems, therefore these potential impacts should be accounted for. The report stresses that any land use or ecosystem change in response to climate change should also take into account local environmental and socioeconomic conditions. 


The water supply, sanitation and wastewater treatment perspective 

Improved approaches to this sector can mitigate climate change, especially through treating and reusing wastewater. By reusing water in a circular water management system, the water sector can reduce the amount of energy it needs. Preventing the dispersal of wastewater is also important because wastewater is a source of greenhouse gases. One of the most effective ways to treat wastewater is by constructing wetlands, especially in places with operational and maintenance constraints.


Co-benefits

When water-related projects are carried out, there are broader socio-economic co-benefits, such as increased employment and income opportunities. Dar Si Hmad’s fog harvesting project, for example, has given women and girls in the communities we serve the time and opportunity to earn revenue  and go to school. The report states that water-related projects are more likely to get funding if their proposals state specific and realistic co-benefits across sectors.

Written by: Gari DeRamos, DSH's former intern