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.

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Capacity Building Program Beneficiaries: InCoDev NGO

InCoDev is a young and outstanding organization to have benefited from our Capacity Building program in 2018. Its name is an abbreviation of Intelligent Community Development. In our latest get-together, we asked Mustapha El Hassnaoui, an assessor in InCoDev, the following questions to learn more about the NGO. Here are his responses:
Mustapha El Hassnaoui, assessor in InCoDev
 When was your NGO founded and what is your main area of activity?
InCoDev was found in 2016 and it focuses on three main points: Social and community development, human rights, and participative democracy, in addition to youth issues and development.
How did you learn about Dar Si Hmad Capacity Building Program for NGOs? And why did you apply for it?
A member of InCoDev sent the organization a link to the program on social media. We immediately decided to apply since our NGO needed empowerment in terms of its management techniques and more training in terms of leadership.
How did your organization benefit from this training?
The members of InCoDev who attended the Capacity Building sessions acquired knowledge and new skills for formulating projects and managing the organization. What each person learned then shared it with the rest of the organization’s members during our periodic meetings. This training enabled us to reformulate a stronger vision and develop a robust plan for InCoDev activities for the years to come.
What are your NGO’s new year’s resolutions for 2020?
The organization’s work-plan for the coming year includes various activities, some of which complement projects already in progress, such as the civil society project and the participatory democracy one, in addition to the trainings we offer to young people, as well as the launching of a new project the organization recently embarked on “The youth of the two banks” which objective is to foster the dialogue about a Mediterranean citizenship that is open to the world, and that also aims to contribute in strengthening the cross-cultural and civic participation of the youth in France, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.
Do you see any future possible collaborations working with Dar Si Hmad on a project?
InCoDev believes in the importance of networking among organizations to affect more change.  Considering the intersection of our fields of work with those of Dar Si Hmad, we consider that joint work is necessary, especially in youth issues, culture, and social development in the generally poor and areas.

At our get- together, the determination and enthusiasm InCoDev members expressed as they shared their accomplishments and goals inspired all those present, considering the common concern we have to improve the conditions of communities of southwest Morocco. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The UN 2020 Water & Climate Change report summary: Prologue

It is paramount for water resource managers to understand the impacts of climate change when managing water, because current trends project major shifts in the climate and more extreme weather in parts of the world soon. Even if greenhouse gas emissions were lowered to be in line with the pledges on nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement, scientists agree the average temperature will rise by at least 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels after 2030.

Because of climate change, temperature is rising, extreme precipitation events will be more intense and frequent, and heatwaves will be more common and last longer around the world. These risks are unevenly distributed geographically and affect vulnerable communities most in all countries. The report also states that climate change affects water resources through “complex spatiotemporal patterns, feedback effects, and interactions between physical and human processes.” Anthropogenic factors including but not limited to land cover change, water regulation, and water contamination also affect the linkages between climate change and water resources. For example, poorly regulated land cover change (i.e. the loss of natural covers such as forests for usually urban development) can contaminate the surrounding water sources.

Water-related impacts from climate change are already seen today in a variety of ways. Water availability manifests with evaporation from land increasing air temperatures (except in dry regions where there is a lack of water). A lack of water also lessens soil moisture and groundwater, which can lead to soil moisture drought and spells. Additionally, colder mountainous regions are losing snow and ice cover, making the area warmer and altering streamflow. Those at the foot of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, for example, use snow melt from the mountains as a source of water. But if there is less snow in a warming climate, there will also be less water.

Decline in urban water availability
 Water stress and increased water demand are also seen today, with water use growing more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century. Water use has increased by a factor of six in the past 100 years around the world, although this statistic does not break down water consumption based on a region’s economic status. Urban areas are most vulnerable, because of population density and increasing urbanization. The report estimates that by 2050, 685 million people living in 570+ cities will lose 10% of their freshwater due to climate change. Many are concerned that decreased water supply may spur migration, spark conflict, and cause countries’ gross domestic products to decrease by 6% in some regions. 

Interactions between water and other major socio-economic sectors affected by climate variability and change
Source: UN 2020 Water & Climate Change report

Additionally, water-related disasters and extreme events like floods and droughts are expected to increase in frequency and intensity. Global floods and rainfalls have been particularly catastrophic, with extreme rainfall events increasing by more than 50% this past decade. The report states that in the 21st century, floods and droughts have caused more than 166,000 deaths, affected 3 billion people, and caused US$700 billion in economic damage. The report also points out that poorer communities in all countries – regardless of the country’s economic status – are more likely to bear the brunt of this displacement and injury.

In order to best adapt to these situations, the report recommends increased investment in water infrastructure by governments, intergovernmental organizations, and other organizations doing relevant work. Global estimates range from US$6.7 trillion by 2030 to $22.6 trillion by 2050. Investments are necessary for new infrastructure, as well as maintenance and improvement of existing infrastructure.

 Several areas are particularly risk-sensitive. The report identifies small island developing countries (SIDs), semi-arid regions, coastal hinterlands, and mountainous areas as areas of concern. SIDs are environmentally and socio-economically vulnerable to disasters and climate change, with little supply and increasing demand due to tourism. Semi-arid regions like northern Africa are already seeing decreased precipitation in already dry areas. Mountainous areas that formerly had glaciers and snowcaps are melting, which changes the ecosystem and hydrological processes in the area. 

All of this said, there are some limitations and challenges to understanding the effects climate change will have on water. The greatest limitation is the uncertainty of projections about climate change and its interactions with the atmosphere, land and oceans, and water resources. 

Written by: Gari De Ramos, Dar Si Hmad former intern

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Dar Si Hmad Highlights of April 2020

In our previous blog article on Dar Si Hmad’s highlights of March 2020, you learnt that we all went under confinement during the couple last weeks of the month. Well, the situation has remained unchanged and we, happily, continue some of the work. Read on through this article to find out how creative we have been with this physical confinement that ensures our common safety!

Please expect a whole new NGO website. Working from home was the ideal time to do some desk-based work and revise our website. So stay connected because you will soon have our updates on www.darsihmad.org where a new institutional video will welcome you. All Dar Si Hmad team is excited about this long due update!

We virtually hosted a new intern who has contributed to making the UN Water and Climate Change chapters accessible to everyone. Dar Si Hmad had her, and this is for the first time ever, working remotely from the United States. Her Name is Ana Margarita “Gari” De Ramos, she first reached out to us during her Journalism and New Media training that she was taking in the School of International Training (SIT), and as part of the program’s assignment, all participants must complete an internship which she did with us from home due to the current global health situation. Gari has contributed with some great pieces of work, you will learn tremendously from her essays; continue being tuned to read them .

The second event, our Green Fridays - Ljamae Azgzaw  did take place but in a novel way, lecturer Lahcen Lquoute, participants and Dar Si Hmad’s staff organized it online. The session was around an amazigh Ode about the precious Argan Tree, the participants were invited to read and interpret. This topic was of great importance because the Argan tree plays a big role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem in the southwest region of Morocco, and also because it serves social and economic purposes too. Having this event held on a virtual platform was advantageous in the sense that it brought people living outside of Agadir to join the discussion, and thus the session benefited a larger public.

Apart from what Dar Si Hmad had within the organization, April 2020 contained many dates that were worthy of commemoration, at least on our social media platforms. The first date was the 7th of April:  World Health Day which indeed concerns us especially with the Coronavirus spread all over the world. The UN Forum of Indigenous people was another event we were excited for, especially that the theme of the year was around the role of indigenous people in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. The event was postponed considering the current health situation. And for the exact same reason, Dar Si Hmad wasn’t able to celebrate its 10th anniversary on April 20. We are however very grateful for all those of you who actively engaged with us on our birthday’s post by sharing their favorite memories with DSH on their Instagram stories. Indeed, those were cherished moments for us too. And then came Earth Day on the 22nd, a day we normally celebrate, but alas, the circumstances did not allow. And finally came the English Language day on the 23rd, which was an opportunity to shoutout to all the native English language speakers who joined DSH’s language center and excelled in learning one of the Arabic and Tamazight varieties we offer.

Finally, April 2020 was concluded by the arrival of Ramadan which is the opportune time to invite people into considering the ecological awareness as an important component of their spirituality. For that, we have been posting daily quotes that teach and call upon revisiting one’s relationship with nature and the ecosystem. We believe that strengthening one’s ecological spirituality leads to building a healthier and more sustainable world. Thus, Dar Si Hmad will make sure to continue spreading this conviction even after the end of Ramadan.

Now that April is over, Dar Si Hmad is preparing a surprise for you this May. A new big important project that will make another milestone in the organization’s history, but also of that of our partners in the project. Stay tuned for the next session of Ljamae Azgzaw, on the last Friday of this month to learn more about what’s coming!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The UN 2020 Water & Climate Change report summary: The executive summary

Water is vital to life. The absence of water will threaten our human rights to water and sanitation. Climate change affects both the quantity and quality of water. These effects manifest as water scarcity, drought, pollution, uncertainty about precipitation, extreme weather and more. Water also effects every aspect of our life and economy, including through human health, food security, energy production, economy growth, ecosystems, and industrial growth.

In the nine-page executive summary of the UN's World Water Development Report 2020: Water and Climate Change, it is made clear that the world and its governments must prioritize creative adaptation and mitigation strategies to ensure peoples’ access to water. The report states that adaptation measures (which moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities from climate change) are more present in water-related sectors, whereas mitigation measures (which are human interventions that reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases) are not yet recognized in the water sector.

It is increasingly necessary to improve and adapt water-related infrastructure. The report also recommends increased investment in unconventional water sources, which include. Some water reuse efforts, desalination plants, the restoration and conservation of wetlands, and fog water collection projects like what we have at Dar Si Hmad.

Food and agriculture also need to be reformed, but face two challenges. First, the industry must adapt its existing models for shifts in the climate – e.g. adjust farming for increased temperatures. Second, the industry must decarbonize through carbon sequestration, emissions reduction through land and water management, or climate-smart agriculture.

Climate change initiatives should also spotlight energy, since two-thirds of the world’s anthropogenic GHGs come from energy production and use. The world must reduce energy demand and increase energy efficiency, and an initial step to doing this is increasing the use of low-carbon renewable energy.

It is also important to consider the interlinkages between climate change adaptation and mitigation measures. Changes in one sector and directly influence the sector’s water demand, which can in turn alter water availability for other sectors. For example, water use requires energy, which leads to water reduction. If our sources of energy change or we need less energy, we would consume less water, produce less GHG, and mitigate climate change.

In order to adapt to and mitigate climate change, we will also need technological innovation that goes beyond our current abilities to measure and react to climate change. The report uses remote sensing technologies as a newer example that can identify large-scale processes not easily seen in traditional observation methods. For example, remote sensing data for crop loss assessment can inform researchers on the effects of flooding in certain regions. All of this, however, needs to be financed. There are two things that must be done for financing climate change’s impacts on water. First, we must recognize the potential of mitigation in water and sanitation projects, and also increase emphasis on financing climate adaptation.

Climate change will also impact the water systems of human settlement. When water is scarce, water availability is typically highest for large urban areas, compared to small urban areas or rural settlements. This highlights the importance of expanding the physical infrastructure for delivering water, while also ensuring it is climate-resilient.

Equally important are disaster risk reduction measures, which include hard (structural) and soft (policy) approaches. These approaches should build climate-resilient infrastructure and strengthen early warning systems and communications services.

Regarding human health, water-related health impacts of climate change include an increase of diseases spread by food, water, or vectors, as well as deaths or injury resulting from extreme weather events.

The report also addresses the regional perspectives and differences when it comes to water and climate change. Specifically, it focuses on sub-Saharan Africa’s water scarcity, Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia’s differing precipitation patterns, Latin America and the Caribbean’s changing water availability which is stressed by urbanization, inequality, and economic development, Asia and the Pacific’s vulnerability do disasters and extreme weather, and Western Asia and North Africa’s water scarcity.

In Western Asia and North Africa, the regions most at risk are the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, and the southwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula. The high vulnerability rate is compounded by the lower capacity to adapt to climate change these regions have, as well as socio-economic and political dynamics that may politicize or weaponize water resources.

Climate change will affect water worldwide, so it is important to governments to have effective oversight and coordination, while also collaborating effectively with one another. The report stresses how around the world, marginalized communities like women and the poor are most directly impacted by these negative effects. The report states that efforts moving forward will require an “equitable, participatory, multi-stakeholder approach to water governance in the context of climate change.”

Text and visuals By: Gari De Ramos
                                 Dar Si Hmad intern