Applications Open Now for Community-Led Sustainable Projects In Jordan and Morocco



The High Atlas Foundation (HAF), in partnership with the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs within the U.S. Department of State, announce a call for applications for community-led sustainable projects through the competitive small grants program “Environmental Challenge”. The Environmental Challenge aims to promote public participation in environmental decision-making and public awareness of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Environment Chapters and national environmental laws, resulting in increased environmental protection and enforcement of environmental laws. 


HAF will award four small grants of up to $50,000 each to local civil associations or cooperatives in Jordan and Morocco.  Small grants will be awarded for proposals focusing on educational and awareness-raising activities that engage a broad range of stakeholders and promote interactions between local authorities and civil society. Proposed projects should also  contribute to the social and economic well-being of communities through sustainable environmental conservation and management (for example sustainable agriculture; water management; renewable energy; waste management; environmental and experiential education with youth; women-led cultivation of organic product).


To enter the Environmental Challenge, applicants should submit a project proposal addressing the Application Criteria (English and Arabic) using the Grant Application Form (English and Arabic)  by the 31st of January 2019.  
Apply now to achieve opportunities for your community and nation!
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Morocco Environment News Summary 12-23rd November

Manon Burbidge
HAF Intern- Marrakech
Lund University, Sweden


Morocco Launches Climate Finance Expertise Programme at “Africities” Conference

The Kingdom of Morocco announced a national strategy aimed at funding projects for climate resilience at the Africities Conference on Wednesday, which is currently being held from 20-24th November in Marrakech.

The “Sub-National Climate Finance Expertise Programme” is designed to be collaborative tool to create a centralised space for exchanging dialogue, expertise, training and experiences aimed at combatting climate change.

It is hoped that the programme will allow both donors and governments to increase their efforts for climate adaptation and mitigation, in line with the country’s commitments affirmed at COP21 and 22.

Read more:


Creation of New Think-Tank “Grain Vision Morocco”

“Grain Vision Morocco” is a brand-new think-tank concerned with developing of the Moroccan cereals and pulses sector, particularly its harvest, import, storage and distribution. Pulses and cereals are key to Moroccan agricultural policy, due to their importance in national GDP.

The think-tank will work with a range of stakeholders using a participatory approach across the supply chain, with the aim of not only ensuring a consistent supply of product but also will work towards national food security.

Read more (in French):


Work to start in 2019 on Solar Plant in Tangier

The first project of its kind in the North of Morocco, the new solar plant located in the suburbs of Tangier will have a 30MW capacity over 69 hectares.

The energy generated is hoped to be able to power the entire port complex of Tangier.

The panels will be constructed at the Almaden Solar factory in Al Hoceima, the largest photovoltaic production factory in Africa.

Read more (in French):


Africa’s Fastest Train Inaugurated in Morocco

The Al Boraq train, which will cut journey times between Tangier and Marrakech from 10 hours to 4 hours and 45 minutes, was inaugurated by King Mohammed VI and Emmanuel Macron, French president last week.

Trains will run at a maximum speed of 320km/h on brand new tracks built by national railway company ONCF. The project is expected to boost development and commerce in the region, particularly in the city hubs of Casablanca and Tangier.

Read more:


How to Provide Electricity to 600 million Africans and Other Questions Discussed at Energy Week Morocco

The African continent is experiencing unprecedented growth- GDP is expected to triple by 2030 and over seven times by 2050- all of which will require significant investment in energy. There is potential here for low-carbon solutions and thus far, hydro, solar, wind and geothermal energy are underexploited across Africa.

The Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy, in combination with the French Development Agency, African Development Bank, the Renewable Energy Agency, the private sector and financial partners have launched an ambitious project to provide electricity access to 250 million people in the Sahel zone, as announced at the 3rd Energy Week held in Marrakech last week.

This partnership will aim to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, increase electrification from off-grid solutions and strengthen energy governance reforms.

Read more (in French):;


Mohammed VI Announces Upwards Revision of Morocco’s Renewables Target

Solar and wind energies are set to play a major role in this ambitious project, announced last week by King Mohammed VI, who stated that Morocco should increase its goal beyond a 52% share in renewables by 2030.

Construction should begin this month on the first of five wind energy projects in Midelt province, increasing currently installed wind capacity of 1GW. Blades will be supplied by a new factory in Tangier.

The King also stated that all new desalination plants should be powered by solar or wind energy, dependant on local specificities.

Read more:


Morocco-EU Agriculture Agreement Renewed

The majority of members of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development at the European Parliament voted for a renewal of the agricultural agreement between the European Union and Morocco. It also represented an adoption of extending trade to agricultural and fisheries products from Morocco’s southern provinces.

Read more:


Noor Ouarzazate III Soon to Come Online

The 150MW Solar Powerplant, in Ouarzazate, Morocco will soon become operational, and provide enough energy to power 120,000 homes with zero net CO2 emissions.

It is also able to store and produce electricity for 7.5 hours without solar radiation, thanks to its state-of-the-art molten salt storage technology.

Read more (in French):


Manon Burbridge is an Intern at the High Atlas Foundation and a postgraduate student of Human Ecology at Lund University, Sweden.


Cooperative Development – it takes a village

Case study of the Aboghlou Womens Coopertaive, Ourika

It is a sunny Thursday afternoon as Amina El Hajjami, Projects Director at the High Atlas Foundation (HAF), and I drive out of Marrakech towards Ourika in Al Haouz Province, just one hour away. We are visiting the Aboghlou Women’s Cooperative in a small shopfront where 32 women have gathered from the surrounding districts to meet Amina. We are greeted with warmth, attention and of course ‘atay’ (mint tea) in the light-blue atelier where dried jasmine fills the air.



Freshly picked jasmine laid out to dry at the Aboghlou Womens Cooperative, Ourika.


There is a real closeness among the women and Amina, as she has been working with them since the beginning. The cooperative and community-managed nursery started in 2015 after HAF conducted participatory planning and women’s empowerment workshops with women in the province. This is a methodology that HAF trainers have successfully used with communities for a number of years now. It takes women on a rights-based process of self-discovery and identification of their own socio-economic goals, where self-interests in the cultural context are often sidelined. Within the context of Moroccan Family Law, or ‘Moudawana’, these workshops support women to become change agents and engage in the workforce.

Amina says the cooperative started because “we had the same result [in all of the workshops and participatory meetings] – that they wanted to generate income and a project. In the beginning some of them wanted to create jobs but didn’t know how.”

“We worked on what they already knew. Many had experience in making cous cous, others said they had experience in making biscuits...and they taught the other women.”

 “We visited many festivals and talked to other women who started their own projects in this way...and they came back with the idea of starting a nursery”.

From here, the group became a registered cooperative in 2016 and were put in touch with a cosmetic company in France, through the PUR Project, to grow 163kg of calendula flowers - a local medicinal plant. The PUR Project helps companies to strengthen their supply chains and works with farmers and communities developing agroforestry, land restoration and sustainable agricultural practices.

Fast forward to 2018 and they now sell a range of edible artisanal products at their shopfront and at festivals including biscuits, couscous, barley, organic almonds and more depending on what is in season. In 2019 they also expect to produce quantities of verbena, geranium, jasmine, and pomegranate for export, as well as expand the types of produce that they can sell locally.


img2 img5

Almonds and barley locally available at the Aboghlo Cooperative for Women, Ourika.

Amina El Hajjami, Projects Director with High Atlas Foundation



In their coop atelier, Amina speaks with the women in Amazigh, their familiar Berber language found mostly in the mountainous Atlas regions of Morocco and the surrounding area. They conduct a needs assessment for support required moving forward. One of the top priorities is Arabic literacy classes and some basic English numeracy, which many of them have been undertaking lately. Some women pull out their notebooks and show us how astoundingly far they have come. Others have found it hard to commit and lack self-confidence, but after 10 minutes of discussion can be persuaded to return to classes. The importance of gender sensitivity is also raised as they share stories about misunderstandings with male teachers who had attempted to run classes previously. In addition, the record-keeping duties currently fall to those who are literate, but will hopefully soon extend to many more of the 32-strong women’s cooperative members.

The High Atlas Foundation continues to provide skills building, which assists the cooperative in meeting their contractual obligations with buyers. The PUR Project conducts regular visits, on behalf of buyers, to strengthen this supply chain and open up new markets for these high-value medicinal and neutraceutical products which would, arguably, be difficult to access locally.  It has taken a number of supporters for the Aboghlou Women’s cooperative to succeed, not to mention the families and communities rallying for its success. In the words of the African proverb, it truly has taken a ‘village’ of people to raise this cooperative.


In addition the benefits are also slowly trickling back into this village and beyond. After four years, their operations are self-sustaining economically and able to pay dividends to these 32 women and their families, many of whom did not have paid employment previously.The benefits are also spreading to surrounding communities where women’s groups have been approaching Aboghlou Women’s Cooperative to provide advice, guidance and assist other villages to develop in the same manner. This is a powerful model for community development - requiring the investment and effort of an entire ‘village’ of stakeholders but which sustainably gives back to a far greater number of communities in return.

For more information on this or other cooperative projects contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Amelia Haigh is a volunteer Proposals Writer for the High Atlas Foundation, Marrakech.


Harnessing Corporate Social Responsibility for community development

By Amelia Haigh
HAF Volunteer from Australia

In a world where we create a living from shared resources, live in shared communities and all of our actions have flow-on effects, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is essential. It is also becoming more and more common, and we all know the benefits that CSR can provide. Though how can this be harnessed for sustainable community development?

We have seen a creative solution implemented by the private sector in Morocco. One such example is the OCP Group, which is making ‘human capital’ – their approximately 23,000 employees – available to work for one month in every year for civil society organisations and local community groups.

The incentive for company employees is a paid volunteer experience that releases them from daily duties, and applies their skills for the benefit of both communities and the company in which they work. Companies gain valuable insight into community development challenges, while also flipping power structures by working directly for community groups and placing them in the driving seat.

The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) has worked with companies to conduct training in the ‘participatory approach’ methodology giving company volunteers the tools they need to engage in meaningful and bottom-up development conversations with communities. The methodology provides a means for communities to communicate their needs and then prioritise their solutions (using a ‘Pairwise’ Ranking Assessment and other tools). Through this process communities agree on the highest priority projects and avoid ad hoc project implementation. Top priorities have emerged for many communities as the provision of drinking water, electricity, security and co-curricular resources for schools.



Yossef Ben-Meir Ph.D., President at the High Atlas Foundation undertaking a Pairwise Ranking training exercise with community members, OCP company volunteers and school directors.


Results of the participatory training with OCP employees with school directors for CSR have so far been extremely promising. A number of projects for community organisations are progressing in a short timeframe with the additional human capital available to them. Expertise can also be committed with a long-term project horizon that transcends short-term funding cycles.

As examples, a number of projects are being developed to provide water pumps to schools in the Marrakech-Safi province, to provide drinking water as soon as possible. Another progression has been the scoping of an organic tree nursery at the Alkhawarizmy Technical High School in Safi aiming to provide applied environmental and agricultural education to students through high-value industries of the future (STEM). This is not only a necessary complement to their electrical and mechanical subject offerings, but may also provide a potential income stream to fund other essential community infrastructure.



Representatives of the Alkhawarizmy Technical High School conducting a site visit to scope out infrastructure dimensions with HAF and company volunteers.




HAF staff, company volunteers and representatives of the Alkhawarizmy Technical High School on a project site visit. 


Providing human capital for development is a creative solution to CSR, providing a real investment in the form that many rural communities need – personnel and expertise – and not just cold hard cash which on its own may be misdirected.

This is a great strategy for more companies to come forward for the benefit of human development, especially in regions and rural areas where communities are being left behind.

For more information regarding the participatory approach methodology training or working regional communities in Morocco please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Amelia Haigh is a volunteer Proposals Writer for the High Atlas Foundation, Marrakech.


A Model to Implement Sustainable Development in Morocco

by Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir

In terms of human development potential, Morocco is a nation of immense promise, where gifted fortunes of nature such as wide-ranging organic agricultural products come together with dynamic social development frameworks. This could launch the country into a haven for community-managed projects and change in Africa and the Near East. 

In particular, Morocco’s Frameworks for Development provide a comprehensive blueprint for fostering sustainable development in the country. Among the many existing frameworks, there are three in particular that have set out to structurally guide local and national growth:


1. The Municipal Charter, amended in 2010, which requires the creation of multi-year community  development plans that are formed by public participation;


2. The National Initiative for Human Development, launched in 2005, which aims to provide access to sub-nationally managed funding for multidimensional development projects; and


3. The Decentralization Roadmap, first unveiled in 2008, which innovatively synthesizes three approaches–delegation, deconcentration, and devolution–to empower regions in development.


Sadly, for the majority of people, the application of the country’s combined initiatives for development is not proving fruitful.  The problem is that Morocco’s programs for national growth and development through public participation are not being orchestrated together. Integrating these programs would enable their mutual reinforcement to promote accelerated growth and success of development initiatives. Thus, the implementation of these development frameworks requires a major reevaluation and overhaul.

How then can these three frameworks better fulfill their individual purposes, and, more importantly, how can they intersect with each other to foster human development that is sustained by local beneficiaries? 


The Municipal Charter

Under the Municipal Charter, locally elected representatives are required to ensure that their constituencies participate in the creation of community development plans and the selection of projects to be implemented in their villages and neighborhoods.  Further, people-driven projects, such as those instituted in the Municipal Charter, are necessary for sustainable development and the actualization of the other frameworks that compose the Moroccan model. 

However, in Morocco there is a constant challenge: elected members to municipal councils are typically not trained in facilitating participatory methods.  The practice of employing procedures that encourage local people to discuss their development goals and create action plans for their projects’ implementation is an essential experience for elected officials in order for them to know how to actually fulfill their formal responsibilities and help advance sustainable growth. 

Catalyzing widespread, inclusive development projects means first implementing experiential training programs for university students, school teachers, technicians, civil society members, elected officials, and local people to be active agents of participatory planning and development.  Sustainable development necessitates the dispersion of these facilitation skills to catalyze and help maintain local dialogue and to implement most needed projects.  The training process to enhance the personal capacities of individuals from different walks-of-life but who all interface with communities, enables them to help carry forward local development movements. Through training-by-doing, the aforementioned municipal development plans can then reflect the actual will of the people in regards to the projects and future they most want.


The National Initiative for Human Development

The second Framework, Morocco’s National Initiative for Human Development (NIHD), is a national fund for infrastructure projects, capacity-building, social and cultural revitalization, and job generating activities on the sub-national level. Its budget through 2023 was approved in September 2018 at the $1.9 billion level.

In theory, the NIHD should primarily help to actualize the development projects designed under the Municipal Charter. Indeed, the NIHD and the Municipal Charter can only be successful if they work in tandem. NIHD should help fund the participatory development plans embodied in the Charter, and finance the projects that local people expressed they most need and want to implement, which ensures their sustainability.  If this were the case, and if the NIHD’s budget were doubled through 2023, then Morocco would see the fulfillment of its development model and vision, instead of remaining ranked 123 among nations on the Human Development Index following an enormity of expenditure, intentions, and effort.

If the Municipal Charter does not result into projects properly defined over the course of community-wide meetings, which is unfortunately often the case due to inadequate participatory training and finance, then it can be expected that the NIHD will not have adequate local projects to fund and whose aggregate of results fall short of national goals--which is also happening.    

Other practical NIHD reforms to increase its development impact should include the following: First, the provincial administrations of NIHD should accept development proposals all year round.  As of now, the shifting periods during the year they receive proposals mean that opportunities open and close and most local associations and cooperatives remain unaware. 

Second, NIHD should be maximally flexible to fund the range of projects communities determine most important to them (whether in health, education, involving construction, etc.).  The NIHD’s criteria regarding project types they consider supporting also often changes, while rural community priorities have remained consistent. 

Third, the NIHD should double the amount (to $60,000) of the funding ceiling for local projects; and reduce to 10 percent (currently at 30 percent, a prohibitive barrier) the requirement that recipients contribute toward the financial amount requested.  In-kind giving on the part of community applicants, such as labor and land, should be accepted by the NIHD instead of the financial contribution. 

Finally, and critically, the NIHD should co-create project proposals among its staff with the prospective local beneficiaries.  The majority of rural people are illiterate and cannot draft the required documents, making it so that communities who could utilize NIHD most are not accessing it.  Credit Agricole in Morocco and USAID in northern Iraq are starting to gain experiences in co-creating project proposals with community representatives and beneficiaries, lessons from which might be helpful if NIHD adopted this approach.  Incorporating these measures and aligning NIHD and the Municipal Charter regarding participatory planning and development, could create a sharp rise in the implementation of new local development projects that are consistent with the necessities of sustainability.


The Decentralization Roadmap

Third, the “Roadmap” of Moroccan decentralization--taken from the public statements of the King of Morocco since 2008--aims to utilize ongoing national government engagement (devolution) along with sub-national partnerships (deconcentration), to help implement community projects (delegation).  In other words, the Moroccan pathway aims to rally national resources and partnerships for local development, which in principle is good for the sake of sustainability. 

However, without the Municipal Charter and the NIHD working together, adequate decentralized arrangements of public administrations will not endure.  Overall, decentralization is not significantly taking hold in Morocco, which further adds to the suppression of new local development. The national government still generally decides the parameters, terms, cases, and situations for sub-regional actions.  However, there is reason to hope that there will be progress: the King of Morocco tasked the government to submit in October 2018 a draft Decentralization Charter, which would ideally bind national and regional government agencies to specific functions for the administration of human services.  

There are concerns that the process of decentralization in pursing development may lead to destabilizing political outcomes. With regards to the Moroccan case, the emphasis on participatory approaches by local communities in creating these projects centers on their livelihoods and meeting their immediate human needs. During the course of 25 years of working in community development in Morocco, having directly or indirectly helped bring about local meetings and projects in all its 12 regions, I have observed no basis for concerns that stem beyond these developmental factors involving the unrealized plethora of socioeconomic and environmental opportunities of the people.  Communities are focused on their needs and projects to meet them, on creating and furthering their associations and cooperatives toward their goals, and to somehow address what can seem stifling difficulties for progress.  There certainly has been ample opportunity to redress the needless poverty, and there still is if only Moroccan leadership were to fulfill the model of decentralized participatory development to which it is committed.

Understandably, achieving decentralization, particularly in regards to the pace in which it is executed, is a delicate process. The local level is stratified socio-economically, environmentally and by gender just as it is on the national and global levels. Advancing decentralization quickly can be fraught with unhelpful consequences, such as further entrenchment of locally affluent and political classes. However, genuine implementation of the Municipal Charter in close conjunction with the NIHD could create the necessary participatory democratic conditions which would enable Morocco to eventually opt for an emerging form of communalization, or decentralized management of development planning and projects to the municipal level.

These three Moroccan Frameworks for Development contain what is needed in order for development to be catalyzed with enduring and sustainable results for marginalized areas and groups in the country. The Municipal Charter could provide the plans for projects that the NIHD may then help accomplish.  Decentralized procedures and managements systems are consequently built alongside the local communities’ project implementation, involving multi-sectoral partnerships dedicated to achieving goals that are defined at sub-national levels.

It is not the insufficiency of these frameworks that accounts for the hardships that afflict Moroccan people, especially in rural areas. Rather, it is their inadequate implementation, stemming from a considerable lack of their understanding among elected and ministerial officials and local leaders, and the skills that are needed in order to translate them into reality.  This is all that is needed for men and women of all ages to come together for community workshops, which, if followed through, can ultimately deliver the projects that they and their families have sought for far too long.


Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, Ph.D., is a sociologist and the president of the High Atlas Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable development in Morocco. 


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High Atlas Foundation
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Directions to HAF Marrakech Office


High Atlas Foundation
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