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.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dar Si Hmad Fog-Harvesting Project Wins Prestigious UN Award


The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Momentum for Change recognize the transformative climate action that is already taking place on the ground. It is an initiative 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.
Winning initiatives, called ‘Lighthouse Activities, highlight some of the most innovative, scalable and replicable examples of what people are doing to address climate change, in the hopes of inspiring others to do the same. This year’s winning activities comprise an impressive range of projects and personal stories that touch on sustainability, climate protection, environmental consciousness and social responsibility.

Dar Si Hmad (DSH) Fog-Harvesting project, the world’s largest operational fog-water harvesting system located on the edge of Morocco’s Sahara Desert was announced today as one of 13 winners of the United Nations Momentum for Change award. The project has been awarded the prize under the Women for Results focus area which showcase women-led initiatives that address climate change.

The Fog-Harvesting project includes 600 m2 of nets to harvest fresh water from fog, serving more than 400 rural Berber residents, most of them are women. Starting in January 2017, the project will be upgraded to CloudFisher, a next generation fog-collection technology, and will connect 8 more villages to the grid.  CloudFishers, designed by our partner Wasserstiftung, is revolutionizing the technique of fog-collection.

“The fog project should not simply be reduced to the story of technical prowess and success: there are more complex and intertwined stories to tell. One narrative is that of curiosity and aspiration; one of motivation and quest for dignity; and one of rigor and determination. This fog catching project has already irrevocably altered the women’s daily patterns and the balance of powers within Berber households. Prior to the fog project, Berber women bore the laborious task of carrying water from distant wells – a burden that greatly limited opportunities for young women,” said Dr. Jamila Bargach, Executive Director of Dar Si Hmad.

Other winning activities includes a Google-led project that could catalyse the rooftop solar market for millions of people across the United States, North America’s first revenue-neutral tax that puts a price on carbon pollution or a project that has established the first women-specific standard to measure and monetize women’s empowerment benefits of climate action. A full list of winners and more information about each of the 2016 Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities can be found here: http://bit.ly/m4c-award

See UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa congratulate Dar Si Hmad for its work: 

 Together with the other winning projects, Dar Si Hmad Fog-Harvesting project will also be showcased at a series of special events during the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech, Morocco (7-18 November 2016).

The Momentum for Change 2016 Lighthouse Activities were selected by an international advisory panel as part of the secretariat’s Momentum for Change initiative, which operates in partnership with the World Economic Forum Global Project on Climate Change  and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative. 

World Maritime Day

Thanks to Environmental Youth Ambassador Rkia Elarif for this guest post about today's international celebration of our oceans!

It’s 29 September and the world is celebrating World Maritime Day. The UN and International Maritime Organisation held this international recognition for the first time in 1978. The theme of this year is Shipping: indispensable to the world.

Many countries around the world are celebrating this remarkable day and the importance of our oceans. Dar Si Hmad has the opportunity to share its voice and its strong contribution in environmental performance. As an NGO working in local communities impacted by global trade and policy, we encourage active work toward the sustainable development goals and efforts to benefit the planet.

During this annual event in order to highlight Dar Si Hmad's work on oceans, I have chosen two programs to highlight. These projects are a gateway to show Dar Si Hmad's great role in sustainable development.

The Water School program provides pupils in the fog project's partner villages located in Ait Baamrane (Southwest Morocco) with the chance to discover and learn about their oceans through workshops, water sports and their first ever journey to the beach.

The EYA program supports a curated community of Environmental Youth Ambassadors who use social media to advocate for and educate about the environment. Recently, the EYAs launched the #Walakin online campaign to raise awareness about environmental issues in the oceans and surrounding ecosystems.

In November, Dar Si Hmad will explore the connection between the oceans and climate change as part of COP22, the international meeting taking place in Marrakech.

Happy World Maritime Day from Morocco! Don’t forget to protect the oceans. They give us many benefits - let’s be sure to keep them healthy!

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.