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, April 30, 2020

The Capacity Building Program Beneficiaries: The Moroccan NGO for the Protection and Evaluation of the Moroccan Manuscripts

Among all the NGOs that benefited from Dar Si Hmad’s Capacity Building program, The Moroccan NGO for the Protection and Evaluation of the Moroccan Manuscripts is perhaps the most unique in terms of its mission and activities. To learn more, read our Q&A with Lahoucine Laghzal, who represented the organization at our get-together on December 28th.

Lahoucine Laghzal, a member of the Moroccan NGO for the Protection and Evaluation of the Moroccan Manuscripts

When was your NGO founded and what is your main area of activity?
Our NGO was first founded in 2015, but its board members were only elected in 2017.
We wear many hats in our organization: from organizing the inventory of the local Moroccan manuscripts, evaluating them, protecting them and restoring them by fixing them. Once this is done,  we can then submit them to research centers able to further preserve them.

How did you learn about Dar Si Hmad Capacity Building Program for NGOs? And why did you apply for it?
A member of our organization came across a post on the program. And we reached out, applied and were selected.

How did your organization benefit from this training?
We learned how to manage projects and have a stronger structure. We also became convinced of the importance of networking to achieve collective and common goals of preserving our traditional ways of knowledge and culture. 

What are your NGO’s new year’s resolutions for 2020?
Besides the preservation of heritage in general, we would also like to make cultural preservation an important component of development; such a field should have many job opportunities, for instance.

Do you see any future possible collaborations working with Dar Si Hmad on a project?
Indeed, especially since Dar Si Hmad works in development, which means that there is common ground on which to cooperate and unite our efforts in order to achieve goals.

Dar Si Hmad wishes encouragement and support for the very noble mission of the Moroccan NGO for the Protection and Evaluation of the Moroccan Manuscripts.

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

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Dar Si Hmad highlights of March 2020

We always keep you informed about Dar Si Hmad’s main events and actions via our social media platforms, we had to however close our offices to respond to the call “stay home,” but we continue being close to the community we service. 

We always keep you informed about Dar Si Hmad’s main events and actions via our social media platforms, we had to however close our offices to respond to the call “stay home,” but we continue being close to the community we service. 

During the same period, Dar Si Hmad had GRACE program running, Girls Read And Communicate in English reactivated after the brief stop it took when our former intern, Ambar Khawaja, completed her mission. This time, it was Gwen Whidden, a Fulbright who teaches English at the school of trade and management, the ENCG of Agadir, who volunteered to do this job. Her first meeting with the beneficiaries, students from Ibn Maja high school was indeed promising as more students expressed their interest in joining the program.

Unfortunately, both these initiatives were interrupted by the emerging pandemic Covid-19 that caused a sudden shutting of the countries’ borders. Finding plane tickets to get the Lewis and Clark students back home was a difficult moment. Dr. Leah Gilbert, their professor, our EFS manager, Perry DeMarche, and our ED worked tirelessly until they got all the students back home. In the end, even our EFS manager had also to leave back to the US given all the uncertainty in the world today; we miss Perry every day at Dar Si Hmad. 

Gwen Whidden, on the other hand, left to the US through the coordination of the US consular services. She and the other Fulbrighters were sent back home. GRACE is now on hold, but we hope, nonetheless, to be able to launch this program once more as soon as a new native English speaker joins our NGO once we resume our activities.

Finally, we had to close our offices in Agadir and carry the remaining work from home. Only few staff who work in Boutmezguida stay in the field as we are currently building an extension to the fog project. Our permaculture farm, Agdal Ibrahim IdAachour, needs to be maintained as well where staff continues to care for the plants. All other programs are presently on hold but we hope everything will soon resume after all of us have taken this moment to reflect on what this pandemic means for our human societies.