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, August 28, 2020

The UN 2020 Water & Climate Change report summary: Chapter 4 - Water related extremes and risk management


The UN 2020 Water and Climate Change report identifies several water-related effects of climate change, including heat waves, unprecedented rainfalls, and thunderstorms and storm surges from cyclones, typhoons, or hurricanes. These disasters can lead to political and socio-economic instabilities that then degrade peoples’ livelihoods. Human society is increasingly vulnerable to water-related disasters. The report suggests that the best way to address this is through climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. 

The report identifies two types of measures: “hard” and “soft” for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. Hard measures involve physical infrastructure and the environment, whereas soft measures deal with the ability of humans to plan ahead. Hard and soft measures should be complementary. For example, to diversify crops (a hard measure), countries need policy environments (a soft measure) that will make crop diversification possible. 

The report focuses on climate-proof infrastructure and nature-based solutions identified as hard measures. To create climate-proof infrastructure, the report recommends risk assessments that factor in the frequency and intensity of the climate hazard, the extent to which humans are exposed to the climate hazard, and the vulnerability of what is at risk. The report highlights two types of risk assessments: bottom-up, which investigates a community’s exposure and current vulnerability, and top-down, which relies on climate modelling and predictions. Climate-proof infrastructure should then be based on these risk-assessments.

Nature-based solutions, which are inspired and supported existing ecological processes to manage water, are another hard measure for which the report advocates. Specifically, the report talks about ecosystem-based adaptation, which uses biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of the overall adaptation strategy. 

Recommended soft measures include forecasting and early warning systems, flood and drought insurance, urban planning, and contingency planning. All of these soft measures can prepare an informed public and government, which can allow people to plan ahead and make informed decisions in light of an impending water-related disaster.

The report also advocates for integrating disaster risk reduction in different sectoral policies and plans as a form of mitigation. This will require stakeholders to come together and share responsibilities in disaster risk reduction and building their stakeholder capacity to prepare for emergencies. Decision-making should include gendered considerations, since women are more at risk from water-related disasters. Unity of stakeholders is particularly important regarding water-related disasters or water sources that cross-country borders. 

Finally, the report sees opportunities in artificial intelligence, ‘big data,’ sophisticated climate and hydrological models, advanced remote sensing technologies, NBS, and social media for strengthening global climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction efforts. To maximize the benefits of these opportunities, policy makers and practitioners must come together and fill in the gap between scientific knowledge and action. 

Written by: Gari De Ramos, DSH former intern

Saturday, August 22, 2020

An overview on the Summer Tech Camp 2020

Saturday 15th August 2020 wrapped up ten days of the third edition of the Summer Tech camp, organized by Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture. 

The camp offered an amazing learning opportunity for young unprivileged girls in Middle school or entering High School, to initiate them in technology and a better, safer use of the internet.  Each day the camp ran from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm with a communal breakfast and the launching of the day with an ice breaker activity for fully energized sessions.

The camp curriculum is inspired from the last editions of the Summer Tech Camp, Sifna Teknologia, with few updates based on this year’s beneficiaries’ needs. As its name indicates, the Summer Tech Camp’s main topic is "Technology," yet it features sessions related to critical thinking, to personal discovery, self awareness and to soft skills such as public speaking or team work that the girls will inevitably need both in their personal and professional lives.

The first day of the camp was all about introductions: the camp and Dar Si Hmad. We then played many games to discover more about the girls and build a solid network. We were impressed by the variety of talents that made up the program and the different skills the girls had:  some could sing beautifully, some played football (a predominantly male sport), some were iron ball players, some were active Turkish language learner, many were K-POP fans, and all loved gaming  and are passionate young women. 

Then, we established together the group rules, we call it our constitution, in order to guarantee a healthy, comfortable and enjoyable learning experience for everyone. 

After lunch we introduced the girls to the technical world of computers and the ABCs of web surfing. The girls were very interested in the new information and facilities they discovered, especially that they knew the internet through phones and many of them rarely use a computer. To apply what they have been taught, the girls were asked to do Webquests on different topics and share their results with their peers.

On the 2nd day, the girls watched a TED Talk video about the “Hole in the wall” experiment. Each one expressed her opinion about the experiment and how we can relate to it as technology knowledge seekers. Next, we talked about the difference between software and hardware. We practiced installing Mozilla Firefox and learned more about the facilities extensions we could bring to the web browser we used. ALEXA was one of the extension examples we focused on especially that it was needed for the workshop on sources of credible information, on detecting fake news, on avoiding illegal downloadings and plagiarism. The 2nd day was also the occasion for girls who do not have an email address to create one and write their first email. As new High-Schoolers expected to give presentations, we initiated them into powerpoint and Google slides use.

Day 3  started with an open discussion about the stereotypes girls have about the technology world. Followed by two Ted Talks about computer science and women in technology; the girls found more arguments to better express themselves about the topic. In the following session, the girls understood the principle of Wikipedia, its accuracy and practice advanced search Google offers.

“Video games” was an interesting session especially for those who love gaming, and they were surprised to discover the other side of video games through gender representation in video games. Girls realized how important it is to be aware of everything they consume from the internet. We then suggested some instructive games and clarified that learning can happen through fun games.

Given the current situation of the pandemic and the schools’ lockdown, we figured out that the girls will need a session related to online learning and the possible platforms that can be used for this end. The girls mentioned that they only used Whatsapp groups to study and did not know there were other platforms that would offer them a better virtual learning experience; that is when we introduced them to different platforms such as Zoom and Teams, and we eventually had a class simulation on Google meet. The girls learned how to launch a virtual class themselves and invite their friends.

To clarify the importance of self awareness we tackled on Day 3, the program of day 4 started with a session on critical thinking, its definition, steps and effective tools to shift one’s way of thinking. After a practice in which girls had to think and use their mental abilities, they had a workshop on DIYs and had free time to find a DIY idea and determine the materials they will need. In the afternoon, the girls had a workshop on digital photography that focused on practical techniques/criteria to take good pictures and edit them online in a way that would  guarantee an effective story telling. 

Day 5, we could not have the planned visit to the Berber Museum, closed because of the pandemic. We started the day with a discussion on museums, their importance and the girls' experiences in museums. We then introduced them to the platforms that can allow them to visit far away museums without moving from their chairs or buying a ticket. After that, we had a workshop on videography. We started the workshop by projecting the videos Khadija Amahal had made as a summary of the previous days of the camp. The girls were excited for the tips and the techniques of videography that would allow them to make such videos themselves.

At the end of the workshop we asked the girls to practice what they learned so far and make videos on their own about any topic they want. We gave them video ideas to guide their thinking; an interview, a set of pictures telling a story with a sound, voiceover or a vlog of a day in the camp.

Day 6 was a pause from the serious workshops and an opportunity for the girls to have fun through playing a variety of games that needed effective team work. The afternoon was solely dedicated to working on the DIY projects and presenting them in front of their peers.

Day 7 and back to serious work! The first thing we think about when we hear technology is the weird writing that we call a code, so it was important to include a session on coding and binary alphabet. Coding might seem very complicated yet if explained through games it becomes fun and easy to understand. In the afternoon the girls were introduced to AI artificial intelligence and had an open discussion about its uses in our daily life, its future and limits.

Day 8 was a personal discovery journey. Girls enjoyed taking personality tests and found out more about their strong points. The afternoon was a session on possible schools and majors the girls can pursue. Also, the girls were very excited for the exchange programs session especially that the facilitator Khadija told them previously that she had visited many countries through exchange programs.

Day 9 the girls had to work on their final projects (presentations and videos) so as to share them within the afternoon. Before the presentations we included a session on Public Speaking so that they have an idea about the way they should present their project. The girls’ final projects incredibly rewarded our efforts. Upon completion of the training, the participants seemed to take our feedback into consideration.

On day 10 participants showed their satisfaction about the training and they expressed wishes to take part in future programs organized by Dar Si Hmad.

Written by: Hanane Ben Belaid, STC assistant and facilitator

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Dar Si Hmad Highlights of July 2020


Dar Si Hmad has resumed its normal work rhythm in just a month following the lockdown. Read through the article to learn about our highlights from July 2020.

Dar Si Hmad office hosted from the 6th to the 10th of July our friend and partner Surfrider Maroc, and provided them with a venue for their yearly training for the Beach Guardians as part of the 9th edition of their summer operation J’aime ma plage, a program designed to raise public awareness of coastal environment. This operation has been underway for the last 4 weeks now in Taghazout and Agadir, the young Guardians of the beach have shown  great commitment to this cause.

During the same week, Dar Si Hmad Instagram account reached 1K followers, and today we have over 1020 followers to whom we are very thankful for engagement and support. And as an  NGO active in disseminating educational and environmental messages both in the field and virtually, we commit to continue sharing informative and instructional content with our readers and supporters.

July 2020 also marks our meeting for strategic planning and  all of Dar Si Hmad’s team came together. The front-line employees in Aït Baamrane, Houssine Soussan and Mohamad Hamou Ali with all of Agadir staff joined in the Centre Culturel Si Hmad Derhem in Sidi Ifni. Our heated exchanges concerning the current health situation and the limitations it has imposed on us  led us to think about different project ideas and how to design them so that we keep benefitting the communities in need, whilst respecting the sanitary measures.

Next DSH completed a sociological survey carried out in the village of Taloust in preparation for its future connection to the fog-water. The survey was successfully completed, and for that we would like to thank all the interviewers who participated in it, as we salute the women of Aït Baamrane for their sincerity and their generous contribution to this work.

In the midst of July, our executive director, Dr. Jamila Bargach was invited to participate in a live panel organized by Enactus club of Morocco as part of their Sustainable Innovation Fest. Our ED contributed to the discussion of entrepreneurship in sustainably managing the natural resources. We invite you to have a look at her rich exchange of the panel, check the Enactus Morocco Facebook page.

Another big highlight of this July 2020 was our Ljamae Azgzaw and the Zero-waste concept. Our office manager, Samira Arjdal, who is a proud “consom’actrice” taught our followers on Instagram about her lifestyle and her daily eco-responsable choices. She explained how there are environmental and moral benefits to lessening one’s production of waste, and at the end of the live session she illustrated about one such product, home-made toothpaste tutorial. The live video was recorded as an IGTV in Dar Si Hmad’s account, so go and give it a look.

Finally, July 2020 was concluded with the preparations for the Summer Tech Camp. Read our previous blog article to learn more about how this initial phase of the camp went, and follow us on the social media to be notified about our upcoming article that will give you more insights about the course and the content of this third edition.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

A taste of the 3rd edition of the Summer Tech Camp

Khadija Amahal in Sidi Ifni
          I strongly believe in the importance of quality education in raising responsible future generations who will continue making change in their environment and promoting positive values. Girls’ education is one of the topics that interest me, and one of the fields I truly enjoy working on. I have many reasons for liking this field; I myself had to find my own path to access a good quality education. Therefore contributing to building a good environment for girls to learn and grow is something that warms my heart. I was very happy to receive an invitation from Dar Si Hmad’s office manager to be a member of the organizing committee of the third edition of the girls’ summer tech camp. This programme is a 10 days long camp where girls from middle school are exposed to information and skills about the field of technology. Themes of the summer camp include: ICT, critical thinking, digital literacy, DIY, photography, videography and many others. One of the things I truly love about this activity is the fact that it is learner cantered. I have a background academic training in teaching, therefore, I know how important it is for the student to have a sense of independence in class and to be involved in the learning making rather than being a passive participant that is spoon fed without having room for thinking, analysing and evaluating their acquired knowledge.

          The first meeting for preparation took place on Tuesday, July 21st, at DSH office. That was one of the very few times when I was not stressed about meeting a group with whom I will be working in the future. I usually get stressed about making a positive impression, creating a bound with the team and not being interpreted wrongly for something I say. I already had the opportunity to meet some of the association’s staff and I enjoyed their company to the extent that I felt at home. Meeting Madame Jamila was one of the highlights of the day. In the Moroccan context, it is likely to be nervous in the presence of an executive director, but that was not the case with this great minded lady. She made sure to welcome me in person and tell us goodbye before she left. These details matter, because in order to give your best at work, studies, and relationships, an intrinsic motivation is valuable, and one way to be intrinsically motivated is to be treated with respect and appreciation for your efforts. With the leadership of Salwa ‘DSH’s communication officer’; Hanane ‘one of the camp’s facilitators’ and I had a detailed idea of the camp, its previous editions and the tasks we are expected to deliver. The conversation was smooth and very comprehensive. By the end of the meeting, we agreed on the future steps to implement in order to be well prepared for the camp and make sure that girls live a great experience they can recall in years, just like the girls and I still remember the great experience of being RISE participants “a program implemented by DSH that aims to provide the participants with the 21 century skills using non formal education tools’.

          Preparing for the camp from home was an alternative we agreed on to assure social distancing especially during the days prior to Eid celebration that witness crowded means of transportation and streets, as a precaution measure. I honestly enjoyed working with my fellow facilitators; we divided the tasks and each one took charge of her preferred sections. We had access to a rich data base of information on previous editions of the camp which really facilitated the task for me. I will give you a brief overview of the section I took charge of; some of it is focused on critical thinking which is highly important in an era where girls are exposed to unlimited loads of information which is not always true. I focused on providing means to build this capacity and tools to practice it as often as possible. My talented friend Hanane worked on designing a session on photography and videography which are great tools for storytelling and building an artistic sense through which girls can see the world from different perspectives. Salwa on the other hand has helped us a lot by providing support in its different forms, clarifying all aspects of the camp based on her previous experience and assuring everything is clear and in order.

          I am really excited to meet the participants and contribute as much as I can in implementing the activities of the camp in the best possible ways. I am also eager to closely work with talented, open minded and supportive community whom I had the immense pleasure to get to know earlier this month. Make sure you keep an eye on the blog; more details about the camp are coming soon.

Written by: Khadija Amahal, STC assistant