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 21, 2016
Friday, September 16, 2016
Thursday, September 8, 2016
Monday, August 1, 2016
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
We've been hinting at our new program in the past few blog posts. Today, we're happy to formally announce the Environmental Youth Ambassadors!
Our EYAs are seven RISE participants who have taken on an opportunity to work with Dar Si Hmad on environmental education and media. The EYAs joined our Water School to help teach young children in the ecologically fragile communities of Aït Baamrane the importance of conservation, resource management, and environmental protection. Following their experiences in the bled, the Environmental Youth Ambassadors are running a series of events in and around Agadir to engage their communities in environmental action.
In their own words, "Environmental Youth Ambassadors (EYA) is an environmental education and advocacy program established by Dar Si Hmd (DSH). The aim of this project is to allow young Moroccans to use visual storytelling and environmental journalism to advocate for environmental issues in southwest Morocco on a local and international scale, which do not receive significant attention or publicity. Particularly as the COP22 conference to be held in Marrakech in November 2016 approaches, this kind of conscientious, locally-driven initiative will be a powerful contribution to the dialogues and pledges surrounding COP22, showcasing the vibrant efforts of youth from all corners of Morocco who are raising awareness about and combating climate change."
Meet our seven Environmental Youth Ambassadors:
Born and raised in a small village near Ouled Teima region, Mahdi was the first one of his family to graduate from high school and go to college. Passionate about social activism and nonprofits, he led a registered local NGO is his home village and was an active member of several youth-led initiatives in Morocco. Mahdi was a 2015 U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Student Leader at Benedictine University (USA), and currently studying at Ecole Nationale de Commerce et de Gestion (ENCG) in Agadir.
One of our graphic designers, Mahdi has visually summed up the EYAs:
The Moroccan Arabic word for yes is "eya". Our Environmental Youth Ambassadors say "yes" to environmental action in Morocco and around the world. We invite you to join them in their adventures leading up to COP22. Check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And be sure to follow their blog for environmental news, opionions, poetry, and more: https://eyadarsihmad.wordpress.com/blog/.
Friday, June 17, 2016
To mark the day, Dar Si Hmad's new Environmental Youth Ambassadors are writing blogs and poems about Morocco's deserts and the global problem of desertification.
We are reposting one of their pieces here. Check out the EYA blog for the original post and more content from these local activists!!
From Environmental Youth Ambassador Salma Edrif:
More than 20 years after World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought was first proclaimed on January 30, 1995, deserts cover 63% of our planet.
However dry and dead they may appear, the African Sahara, Arab Desert, Great Sandy Desert, Thar Desert and even Antarctica Desert are homelands to biologically diverse ecosystems, a population of 2 million people and countless cultures that have made a home in the arid deserts.
In Morocco, 266 000 Km square is covered by desert. Through history, the desert has been Morocco’s gateway to the Sahara and the route of trade caravans linking the north of the continent with the south. It is the homeland of a 500 000 population and the beautiful Hassani culture.
Unfortunately, the surface of arid deserts is growing significantly, destroying countless ecosystems in the process. This is known as the desertification phenomenon.
According to the Princeton University Dictionary, desertification is defined as “the process of fertile land transforming into desert typically as a result of deforestation, drought or improper/inappropriate agriculture”.
It is the expansion of biologically destroyed land at the expense of productive land, occuring mainly in dry lands when a land’s vegetation is destroyed and the land is no longer productive. Desertification is caused by several factors such as drought, climate change and especially the unhealthy overproduction and mismanagement of land. According to the United Nations, since 1990, about six million hectares of productive land have been lost around the world every year as the land becomes degraded and less fertile. An estimated 135 million people are at risk of being driven from their lands because of continuing desertification.
This phenomenon does not only affect land and ecosystems but also gives rise to social, economic and political tensions that can cause conflicts, further poverty and land degradation.
Therefore, practical and effective prevention measures against desertification are required in threatened areas. One such measure is Morocco’s National Charter for Environment and Sustainable Development, “Plan Maroc Vert”. The Charter was launched in 2010 and will form the framework for all future national environmental laws, guiding government officials on natural resources, the environment and sustainability.
In addition to law enforcement, effective solutions include preventing soil erosion through rational land management, planting and protecting windbreaks and shelterbelts of live plants, improving early warning systems and water resource management, and developing strategies that address poverty at its roots. This last is especially imporant because poverty forces people who depend on land for their livelihoods to overexploit the land for food, energy, housing and sources of income.
To help governements combat desertification, small individual actions such water conservation, planting trees and donating seeds to poor farmers families could be taken.
The wildness and desolation of natural deserts are the source of their charm and beauty; however, this charm is lost when human-induced deserts caused by overproduction and climate change destroy other ecosystems, and in the process, the life of millions.
Last but not least, don’t hesitate to learn more about UN’s theme for this year’s World’s Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.