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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

SDG #9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Thanks to Environmental Youth Ambassador Mohamed Ouabbou for this guest blog post about the ninth 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 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.

The Industrial Revolution was a long time ago - and we now know that access to technologies and resilient infrastructure have a long-lasting impact on inclusive growth. We also know that unsustainable industry and infrastructure are one of the biggest contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

The ninth Sustainable Develop Goal centers around "Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure". It is about building the most sustainable future for everyone around the world in an environmentally way.


Meghan Werft's op-ed on Global Citizen argues that these three mean:
  • "Industry: A world where we can renewable energy and innovative knowledge equally with one another.
  • "Innovation: A world where humans can advance and progress together.
  • "Infrastructure: A world with no slums, where everyone has access to sustainable resilient materials to build a safe, secure home."
Sadly, we are still a long ways from this goal as a reality. Over half the world's population lives in cities. 2.5 billion people lack access to basic sanitation and almost 800 million people lack access to water. Over 4 billion people do not have access to the Internet. More than half of the world's workers are in insecure jobs with poor pay and limited access to both education and social insurance. Investing in technology, scientific research, and innovation are all important ways to facilitate sustainable development. 

The gender gap of sustainable development is particularly prominent in this goal. UN Women has found that the vast majority of researchers are still men. Women must have equal opportunities in building a shared sustainable future.


Investing in technology and innovation would create more jobs. Expanded infrastructure can give developing countries the ability to engage in the global market. Technology can serve a key role in improving access to education, world markets, and a globally connected society.


According to the “Global Competitiveness 2015” Report, Morocco has ranked 1st place in North Africa in the category of Best Infrastructure. The construction industry growth by investment in infrastructure and energy and the industry is expected to rise of 4.07% over the period (2016-2020) up from 1.26% during (2011-2015). The government launched various transport infrastructure projects under the 2015–2020 and aims to support economic and urban development, improve living standards and ensure social and economic inclusion.

Dar Si Hmad works to promote innovation for sustainable livelihoods. Our award-winning fog-harvesting project uses pioneering technology to provide potable water to over 500 Amazigh villagers. Our Water School promotes girls in STEM fields, educating the next generation of Moroccan female engineers. Our RISE program engages urban youth in environmentally-friendly entrepreneurship and community development.

As we prepare for COP22, we encourage you to join us in promoting innovative work for social and environmental change. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn more about how we are doing this, the Sustainable Development Goals, COP22, and our work in community-driven innovation.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Teaching WASH at the SOS Children's Village

Yesterday, Environmental Youth Ambassador Salma Edrif wrote about global problems with access to clean water and sanitation. Improving these services is the sixth Sustainable Development Goal. Today as part of our "Road to Marrakech" social media campaign leading up to COP22, Salma shares how the EYAs recently took action on WASH: Water for Sanitation and Hygiene.

The Environmental Youth Ambassadors recently visited the SOS Children's Village
to deliver a lesson on Water for Sanitation & Hygiene

Following the example of Dar Si Hmad’s Water School in Aït Baamrane's primary schools, the Environmental Youth Ambassadors recently broadened the project’s target by bringing it to SOS Children Village in Agadir. The Water School is an environmental educational project for youth in southwest Morocco.

Dar Si Hmad’s team implemented the Water School project in order to help the children of Aït Baamrane villages benefitting from the fog project adapt to the new luxury of water in their homes and learn about Morocco’s diverse climate, fauna and flora. The School brings a series of classes on ecologically-sound water practices taught through a curriculum of adaptive hands on-activities stimulating children’s curiosity and lust for learning to build their capacities in the 4 pillars of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

After working in the Water School's original classrooms, the EYAs brought the lessons to Agadir's SOS Children Village. They spent one memorable Saturday afternoon with 40 kids aged between 6 and 10 years old.

The EYAs selected Lesson 6 of the Water School curriculum: Water for Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). The activities of the session aimed to draw the children’s attention to germs: their existence, how they spread, and the causes of contagion. The afternoon included fun activities teaching students the proper method to wash their hands using soap and water. They also discussed the importance of handwashing after and before specific activities every day in order to avoid contagion.

As the curriculum is based on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Science) subjects, the SOS Village afternoon included the use of microscopes and magnifying lenses allowing students to explore the miniscule world around them. Students improved their teamwork skills by helping each other wash their hands and tapped into their artistic minds to represent germs' contagion. They EYAs served as mentors to encourage them to commit to sharing their knowledge about proper sanitation practices with their communities.

The EYAs hope to continue sharing the lessons of the Water School around Morocco. We will be highlighting the project at COP22. Learn more about the curriculum in our "Streaming the Water School" series and join us online for regular updates!

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn more about how we are working to improve WASH, achieve progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals, and support the important work of COP22.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

SDG #6 : Water and sanitation

Thanks to Environmental Youth Ambassador Salma Edrif for this guest blog post about the fourth 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 6: Clean Water and Sanitation.

The sixth Sustainable Development Goal set by the United Nations to be achieved over the next 15 years is to ensure access to safe water sources and sanitation for all. 

The fact that water covers 70% of our planet drives us to take it for granted.
However, the fresh water we can drink and use in our daily lives represents only 3% of that water.
Even worse, around 1.1 billion of the world’s population still face daily challenges accessing one of their basic needs that is access to water, while 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year. 2.7 people can not drink, nor bathe or cook food for at least one month.

The seriousness of water scarcity affects 40% of the world’s population, directly through the lack of access to clean water itself as well as sanitation services such as toilets, and indirectly through gender inequality, illiteracy, health threats and poor economic development

Approximately half the victim population of the lack of access to clean drinking water as well as sanitation services are children, whose lives are affected on many levels.

Searching for potable water, or what is often called “the six miles journey,” is the daily mission for over 2 billion women and children across the globe. Instead of taking their natural seats at schools, children (unfortunately especially girls) spend hours fetching and transporting water from miles away water pumps and wells. When girls do manage the time to go to school, the lack of sanitation services frequently drives them to drop out by the age of puberty, as their sanitary needs increase.

The water fetching occupation hinders schooling and prohibits the children from pursuing their future ambitions. This daily chore is also a real threat to their lives, as they often walk long miles unaccompanied, exposed to abduction, rape, abuse, wild animals and insect attacks.

Children are further exposed to water-based hazards from non-potable water or water sources that have been contaminated by water-borne bacteria. These WASH-related issues are responsible for the death of more than 800 children every day from diarrhoeal diseases linked to poor hygiene and fecal contamination. 

A standard toilet facilty in Dar Si Hmad's partner fog villages in Aït Baamrane

In 2016, the alarms are already flashing crimson red, and the call for action is pressing.

The United Nations set this #6 goal because managing water sustainably will not just allow humanity to better manage food and energy production, contribute to decent work and economic growth, preserve natural water ecosystems and biodiversity, and take action on climate change - but also literally save the lives of 2.2 billion people who are currently dying every year, simply because they do not have clean, potable running water or adequate toilets.

Dar Si Hmad is promoted to improving WASH for the communities of Aït Baamrane, Morocco, and the world. Join us on the Road to Marrakech as we prepare for COP22, celebrate the work we do, and explore what is yet to do. 

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn more about how we are doing this, the Sustainable Development Goals, COP22, and our work in access to water and sanitation for all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

SDG #4: Quality Education

Thanks to Environmental Youth Ambassador Abdelhaq Ait Boulhous for this guest blog post about the fourth 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 4: Quality Education. Happy learning from Dar Si Hmad!

The fourth Sustainable Development Goal aims to "ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all".

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”
-Nelson Mandela

According to the UN, Quality Education means to:
  • Help poor countries benefit from better education.
  • Create equity education between boys and girls.
  • Encourage the students to be more creative and innovative.
  • Build peace in parallel with education.

As every country, minister, and responsible parent must know, education is a fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all other human rights. It promotes individual freedom and empowerment and yields important development benefits. Yet millions of children and adults remain deprived of educational opportunities, many as a result of poverty.
Not long ago, education was only accessible to the rich, furthering a domination of this category of society. Girls often didn't have the right to be educated like boys due to mainstream sexism, as many people - including parents - believe that a girl's primary purpose is to get married at an early age and have children, take care of her family, and rely on men. For many poor countries (especially in Africa, Asia and South America), education for both sexes continues to be lacking.

Today, the world has changed with the help of technology. 99% of world's families have television, so they can know what is happening in the world and get updates. It is increasingly possible for us to make quality education for all a possibility.

In Southwest Morocco, Dar Si Hmad has innovated many projects and programs to resolve the problem of inequitable access to quality learning and teaching.

The Water School is an environmental program which aims to educate schoolchildren about the concept of water, environmental conservation and sustainability using innovative teaching methodologies. This program helps children know what happens in their environment and learn about animal and plant biology, fog, the water cycle, and more. 

The Water School includes a focus on girls in science, made possible by the fog harvesting project. Thanks to the fog water, women in rural Aït Baamrane don't have to travel long hours in order to fetch a few liters of water. Girls are thus able to focus on their studies and no longer have to worry about waking up very early for water. This is helping encourage families to keep girls in schools, decreasing the region's high female drop rate.

Last year, the RISE and THRIVE programs offered 120 young university students 8 months of professional development training led by very experienced facilitators and mentors. Participants acquired technical skills on information technology, project management, career planning and entrepreneurship. Learn more about this project here and catch some of last year's highlights in the video below.

Last but not least, there is the Environmental Youth Ambassadors program - something I am part of. The EYAs are an environmental education & advocacy initiative driven by Moroccan youth, using visual storytelling to generate dialogue on environmental challenges & solutions. 7 young RISE participants have been selected to join Dar Si Hmad in tackling the world's biggest problem, global warming and climate change. The EYA program aims to engage youth to add their innovative ideas to come up with solutions and strategies for climate action. Thus far, we have organized national online campaigns and 4 events in Agadir to spread and share our environmental message. These have included a “Film & Ftour” night during Ramadan, a “Clean & Green” garbage removal activity in Paradise Valley in Agadir, and a special lesson on water and health at the SOS Village for abandoned children. You can learn more about this program by following our Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.

Dar Si Hmad works to be part of the change through projects with a long-term vision. We are committed to next generations and believe that education is a vital part of creating a sustainable world.  

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn more about how we are doing this, the Sustainable Development Goals, COP22, and our work in quality education for all.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

International Day of Rural Women

Thanks to Environmental Youth Ambassador Mohamed Ouabbou for this guest blog post about the International Day of Rural Women! We are proud to be working with young Moroccan male feminists.
This post is part of our "Road to Marrakech" social media campaign leading up to COP22. The first Sustainable Development Goal we are highlighting is SDG 5: Gender Equality. From all of us at Dar Si Hmad, happy Rural Women's Day!

The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on October 15, 2008. The idea of honoring rural women with a special day was put forward at the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995 - the same event where then-First Lady of the United States Hillary Clinton first declared "women's rights are human rights". It was suggested that this day be celebrated as World Rural Women’s Day.

The United Nations International Day of Rural Women celebrates and honors the role of rural women who make up one-quarter of the world's population. Rural women are often the primary providers of food and sustenance for their families and contribute to the majority of global food production by constantly adapting to their environments with new agricultural techniques. They do this while frequently working in situations of poverty - bearing in mind that 76 percent of the world's extreme poor live in rural areas.

Today's commemoration aims is to address the human rights of all rural women, improving their working conditions and recognizing the important role they play in society. This is a vital step in ensuring the sustainability of human-nature systems.

In Morocco, many women survive through subsistence farming with limited other opportunities available to them. Poor infrastructure and limited access to credit means that raising enough income to support children's schooling is made more difficult in female-headed households - creating a vicious cycle of poverty and poor education.

Since its founding in 2010, Dar Si Hmad works to support mothers to improve their livelihoods in Southwest Morocco's rural areas. The organization utilizes pioneering research and technology and uses education and ecology to promote intercultural exchange and participatory development facilitating sustainable growth for the region. Some of projects particularly relevant to the International Day of Rural Women are:
  • The world’s largest operational fog-harvesting system located in Aït Baamrane in Southwest Morocco. The system includes 600 m2 of nets that harvest fresh water from fog, serving more than 400 rural Berber residents, the majority of them women. Rural women in these villages once held the frequently burdensome role of fetching water. Having water piped directly into their homes means that residents no longer need to travel long distances for potable water. By controlling the household water supply and monitoring the fog system, women continue to maintain power as water guardians.
  • Women's Empowerment trainings ensure that women of all backgrounds have the skills they need to take on leadership and decision-making roles, allowing for truly sustainable development.
  • Dar Si Hmad’s E-Learning program helps young women in Aït Baamrane to succeed in national exams, opening doors to a wider range of opportunities and experiences.
  • The Water School uses environmental concerns to engage rural communities in experiential learning. Children aged 7-13 explore the societal and natural realities of their world, expanding their capacities for and understandings of global change.
  • Through the Ethnographic Field School, Dar Si Hmad invites international researchers and students to be a part of their inspiring work with local communities by facilitating academic and cultural programs and service learning. These visits provide new experiences for communities and help reduce the many stereotypes frequently held about rural women.
Two weeks ago, the above programs won a prestigious award from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in recognition of their support for rural women. Momentum for Change recognizes the transformative climate action projects that are already taking place on the ground. Momentum for Change is 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. Dar Si Hmad won under the "Women for Results" focus area that showcases women-led initiatives addressing climate change. Our "Women-Led Fog Harvesting for a Resilient, Sustainable Ecosystem" is gaining international attention and more groups are exploring how they can borrow from our learning in fog-harvesting, environmental education, and women-centered rural development to improve their own work.

While today's celebrations focus on the specific situations of  rural women, it is important to also acknowledge the value of rural women to economic growth, food security, and people's empowerment. As former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kofi Annan said, "When women thrive, all of society benefits."

Join Dar Si Hmad on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn more about how we are promoting and empowering rural women to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.