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.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The UN 2020 Water & Climate Change report summary: Chapter 5 - Human Health Impacts related to Water, Sanitation and Climate Change

Climate change has and will continue to have severe water-related impacts on health, especially the poorest and most vulnerable populations that will deepen inequalities within and between countries. Water-related health impacts of climate change include the increased spread of food-, water- and vector-borne diseases, deaths and injury associated with extreme weather events, and undernutrition caused by food shortages, droughts, and floods. Mental health may also be impacted, but it will be harder to quantify. It is projected that climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths yearly by 2030.

The UN 2020 Water and Climate Change report recommends immediate coordinated action that draws on the principles of the ‘One Health’ approach, which considers humans, animals, and ecosystems in its public health interventions. The report stresses the importance of the government and healthcare sector factoring in water and sanitation in healthcare policies. Through the Paris Agreement, the international community has provided mandates for stronger action to protect human health from climate risks. Mitigation efforts that prevent global temperatures from increasing by 2ºC are also important, especially to prevent the spread of diseases that thrive in warmer temperatures. 

Trends in water-related morbidity and mortality

Ensuring access to safe water and sanitation will not only improve quality of life for millions, but also realize the human right to water. To achieve water access for all, there needs to be better management of water resources to prevent the spread of disease, such as making sure bodies of freshwater are not polluted and that the food production sector has adequate access to safe water. 

Around the world, nearly two million preventable deaths occur because of inadequate water and sanitation, with most of these preventable deaths are happening to children under the age of five. Mortality associated with water- and sanitation-related diseases is decreasing, but not quickly enough. The burden of these illnesses and death fall on women and girls, who lose opportunities for work and education due to water collection tasks and have difficulties in menstrual hygiene management. 

Health risks associated with climate change

Climate change is already impacting human health, but it is disproportionately impacting the poorest and most vulnerable populations, which is why climate change is considered to be a poverty multiplier. There are direct, indirect, and mental health water-related impacts from climate change. Direct impacts include physiological effects from exposure to high temperatures, increase in respiratory diseases, and death or injury from extreme weather events. Indirect effects include those caused by ecological changes, such as water insecurity because of drought. Mental health impacts include stress from loss of culture, loss of a way of life, and more. 

Additionally, climate change is undermining the progress made on safe water and sanitation management that is supposed to prevent these water-related health risks from happening. In some regions, cases or diarrhea are expected to increase to 10% by 2030 because of diseases spread by climate change. Existing water and sanitation infrastructure is also at risk of being damaged by extreme weather events like floods, which will worsen water and sanitation quality. 

Increased temperatures will affect water availability and food production, so another major concern is undernutrition, which the report anticipates to be “one of the greatest threats to health resulting from climate change.” The report predicts that 540-590 million people, particularly children and the elderly, will be undernourished if global temperatures warm by 2ºC. 

Water supply and response options

Adapting water and sanitation infrastructure so they make room for resilience is of the utmost importance. The following six components of health systems should be considered when adapting infrastructure: policy and policy and governance, financing, service delivery, technologies and infrastructure, workforce, and information systems. Other measures including data collection, disaster response and rehabilitation, and behavior change programs can also be effective in adapting to climate change. 

Just as the water and sanitation sector should take health into account, the health sector should take water and sanitation into account. Specifically, the healthcare sector should ensure that water- and sanitation-related climate risks are factored into their healthcare policies. 

Written by: Gari De Ramos, DSH former intern

Friday, September 4, 2020

Dar Si Hmad Highlights of August 2020


Of all specialties, Education has always been the focus of Dar Si Hmad throughout its existence, August 2020 being no exception. From searching for funds to run future educational programs, to designing children-and-youth empowerment programs, and making one of our major educational micro-projects, a lot has happened during this month despite Corona constraints. Read through this article that features the highlights of Dar Si Hmad in August 2020!  

Following the online preparation for the third edition of the Summer Tech Camp and the celebration of Eid Al Adha in exceptional conditions, this year’s program of the camp also had to be readjusted to the context in terms of the content and the organization of the venue. This year’s sessions tackled specific needs of the beneficiaries and had us put special emphasis on the online learning methods that will indeed serve them in the upcoming school year. As for the organizational side of the camp days, Dar Si Hmad did its best to ensure the respect of all the sanitary measures that will prevent the participants in the camp and our staff too from being attained by coronavirus. More than 14 days have passed since the end of this year’s Summer Tech Camp, and no case of contamination with the virus has been declared from any participant in the program. Above all, this year’s edition marked a great success for our organization. We received very positive feedback from the beneficiaries and their families, and our internal evaluation of the program was also gratifying, for all the stress and obstacles that we were able to overcome fluidly.

Simultaneously, Dar Si Hmad, in the company of the members of FIKR NGO in Sidi Ifni, have been preparing the logistics and administrative procedures to launch school support courses for the children of the villages that benefit from our fog harvesting project. Our initiative could not go ahead as planned, but we do not give up as we are currently thinking of innovative methods that can help rural students catch up with their urban-based peers who have access to the internet that fairly facilitates receiving school content. In this regard, we also invite you to think and share with us your project proposal that can be implemented in the actual context of the communities we serve, you could also contribute.

In addition to our youth and children empowerment programs in the planning phase, our work on the agroecological project Afous Ghissiki is progressing and is promisingly growing, especially with the amazing job that Mustapha, the head coordinator of the program, has been doing since his recruitment. Our continued research on the biological control of the mealybug ( Dactylium Opuntiae) in the region of Aït Baamrane is also still on. And today we are looking into adapting the new research coming out of our University in Agadir to counter this bug with a biological predator to stop this invasive species that  threatens the source of livelihood of the local economy.

And as always, the month ends with our Green Friday which has hosted this time Mr. Tom Bebien, a recycling coordinator with Plastic Odyssey; the latter being a world expedition that fights plastic pollution. If you missed our live video with him, don’t worry, we have it recorded for you as an IGTV. And if you would like to see new and exciting forms of Ljamae Azgzaw… stay tuned!