Seeding New Projects for the 2019 Planting Season

Manon Burbidge
HAF Intern- Marrakech
Lund University, Sweden

January is the traditional tree-planting season in Morocco, meaning that right now, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) is gearing up to take on new tree-planting project ideas that are springing up across the country. Last week, I joined Errachid, HAF’s project manager, on his site visits to find out more about these projects, how they will benefit local communities and their contribution to sustainable development. 

“Ait Ourir Bridge Center”, Ait Ourir

One beneficiary of HAF’s project will be the “Ait Ourir Bridge Center”, a language school for both children and adults in the town. Students here learn English in intensive 3-month programmes, and also have the opportunity to take part in exchanges with foreign students, namely those with English as their native language, to share cultural and linguistic experiences.

The project’s aim is to sign a partnership with six schools in the locality, who have asked for fruit trees to be planted in their grounds. The schools will then sell the fruit in order to reinvest the money into other projects. The exchange students and the Bridge Center’s students will conduct the planting together, to benefit simultaneously from knowledge of planting and learning a language. It is also hoped that there will be many activities and workshops surrounding the tree-planting involving the school-children.

HAF is forging a link between the AOBC and their project, covering the costs of the tree-planting and nurseries, as well as providing other incentives for participation in the project, such as sanitation and clean water. It is also hoped that the project will engage the Delegation of Education and the Governor of the region in the activities to highlight the importance of environmental education.


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“Centre Pour le Sauvegarde de l’Enfance”, Marrakech

The Centre for the Protection of Children, or “Centre Pour le Sauvegarde de l’Enfance” in Marrakech is home to 35 boys and 45 girls under 18 years of age. It is both a home for children who have been involved in criminal activities or those who have nowhere else to go, and responsible for these children’s re-education and day-to-day care.

The Centre would like to plant trees in its grounds to be able to sell the fruits for additional income, to provide quality educational activities for the children. The project will consist of approximately 50 olive and carob trees over an area of 15m2. They also wish to start a tree nursery on the site in future.

HAF hopes to also conduct workshops with these children to work out their needs and assess where it is appropriate to provide assistance alongside the tree-planting project.




Bouchane Secondary School, Bouchane

Currently educating 1102 students, Bouchane school is a previous beneficiary of HAF projects. In 2014, HAF helped the school to plant 300 olive, pomegranate and lemon trees as well as herbaceous and medicinal shrubs.

It now wants to expand its project by starting up a pilot tree nursery for the region, equipped with a greenhouse and with water-saving measures. Over time, they hope that the nursery will provide trees for farmers, other schools and co-operatives in the region, and even further afield.

They will focus on planting olive and carob trees, as they are both suitable for the dry soils of the province, but also generate good income. This money will then be used to reinvest in other projects which will benefit the school.

Like the Ait Ourir Bridge Center, the Bouchane school also want to involve the governor of the province as well as other officials in the project and to sign a partnership agreement with the Delegation for Education.


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Miara Jewish Cemetery, Marrakech

Inside this peaceful walled cemetery in the heart of Marrakech, a tree-planting project is underway. The guardians wish to plant 60 olive and 30 carob trees in the grounds of the cemetery, lining the walkways and providing shade over the area.

Preparations are already underway, with holes dug into the ground and an irrigation system set up to provide water for the saplings when they arrive.

The fruit trees will help to make guardianship of the cemetery, a place which has remain unvandalised for over 500 years, a financially viable position for the future.


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Tagelft Lycée and Middle School, Tagelft

Due to deforestation and the removal of vegetation, soil erosion is a big problem in the High Atlas Mountains. Snowmelt in the spring can also lead to bad flooding, also partly due to the lack of trees.

The remote mountain community of Tagelft is hoping to combat this problem in part by commencing a tree-planting project in both its Lycée and its Middle School. This will help to stabilise soils and to provide a greener and more attractive learning environment for its pupils.

Although this project is still in its infancy, it is hoped that the site could host between 300-500 trees, seedlings of which could be given to local farmers to supplement incomes and instigate a culture of tree-planting in the region. It will also provide the opportunity to deliver workshops on environmental education and to raise awareness of the importance of trees for mountain communities.


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Manon is a post-graduate student of Human Ecology at Lund University, Sweden


Morocco Environment News Summary for w/b 5th November

 Manon Burbidge
 HAF Intern- Marrakech
 Lund University, Sweden



Eco-Friendly Public Transport in Safi

The urban commune of Safi announced that it would be introducing eco-friendly buses into the city from 1st January 2019. 45 new buses, which are engineered in Germany and tailored for those with special mobility needs will join the fleet in the new year. The buses will also have WiFi and CCTV on board.

The city hopes to increase the number of new buses to 135 by 2024.

Read more:


€117m Invested into Sustainable Drinking Water Access

On 7th November, the African Development Bank approved financing of €117m to enhance the security and sustainability of Moroccan people’s access to safe drinking water. The bank states that this investment is a strategic contribution, due to water being the foundation and starting point for sustainable development.

The beneficiary provinces will be Guercif, Zagora, Tangier, Al Hoceima and Beni Mellal, impacting over 2.5m people.

Read more:


Morocco Makes Good Progress on SDGs Related to Food Security and Climate Change

The Economic Commission for Africa’s most recent report found that Morocco has integrated the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their development strategies, and has done particularly well in relation to climate change and food security.

However, the report also recommends that national priorities are realigned to meet the SDGs across the board, as the Maghreb region faces many complex challenges including industrial transition and youth unemployment. Morocco should also strive to integrate and form partnerships between NGOs, the private sector, government and civil society.

Read more:


Morocco Launches Campaign to Combat Harassment of Women

On Saturday 10th November, the Moroccan online movement #Masaktach (I won’t be silent) calls for women in Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakech to carry a whistle with them, and to use them if they are harassed in public or on transport. 

The movement was started after widespread outrage over cases of gender-based violence in the country and is helping to shed light on the extent of sexual harassment of women in Morocco.

Morocco’s government recently introduced a law, effective from 12th September 2018, aiming to eliminate violence against women and giving prison sentences of between 1 & 6 months to sexual harassers in public places. Nevertheless, incidences of discrimination and violence in the country remains high.

Read more:


Marrakech Plays Host to Global Environment Facility’s International Waters Conference

Between 5-8th November, the 9th International Waters Conference (IWC), organised by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) will be held in Marrakech. 300 participants from 80 countries are expected to attend, representing GEF project managers, beneficiary nation representatives, NGOs, UN agencies and the private sector.

2018’s theme is Sustaining International Waters Co-operation, aiming to promote water sustainability and to share best practices.

Read more:


Africities Youth Forum to be Held in Marrakech

Africities Summit Youth Forum, an event which takes place every three years will be held this year in Marrakech, with an expected 5000 attendees from Africa and the African diaspora.

2018’s theme is centred on the role of local and subnational African governments in the transition towards sustainable cities, placing a special focus on the role of youth in achieving this.

Participants will include leaders, city officials, the private sector, academia and development partners, among others, and is supported by UN Habitat and UNESCO.

The event will take place between 20-24th November.

Read more:


Manon is a post-graduate student of Human Ecology at Lund University, Sweden

Beyond Cultural and Religious Boundaries

 By Professor Afaf Hamzaoui
 Faculty of Languages, Arts and Human Sciences in Ait Melloul

Dr. Yossef Ben- Meir, president of High Atlas Foundation and he is one of my best friends, asked me if I would like to meet a group of American-Jewish ladies who would like to know about the Moroccan historical background as well as the coexistence and the tolerant life among the Moroccan Jewish and Muslim people. This meeting was supposed to be at Villa Mandarin in Rabat on the 6th November, 2018.




I was really excited to meet these ladies for two main reasons. The first was because I want to talk about the Moroccan history and culture, which is a mixture of many cultures; and which both the Islamic and Jewish cultures are the main influencing components of it. The second reason, I wanted on my part to learn from these Jewish ladies and become friends and go beyond the religious boundaries. The meeting was successful.


We sat together at a round table freely and we started our conversation. At first, I presented myself to them and informed then that I have recently been hired as university teacher of English at Ait Melloul Faculty of Languages, Arts and Human Sciences in Agadir, specializing in Moroccan cultural studies and postcolonial feminism. I informed them that I am interested in multiculturalism. All of them kindly congratulated me.


I felt happy and free among them to speak about whatever topic they were interested in. At the same time, I felt that the ladies may feel as if they were in a classroom, so I quickly changed the atmosphere into a friendly informal gathering among friends who are visiting Morocco. They would like to gain from their stay via learning about all components of Moroccan cultural, social, historical and religious perspectives. The ladies started trusting me.

I felt free to laugh and share personal stories referring to our Moroccan Jewish neighbours, how they used to share meals among Muslims neighbours, how our Jewish neighbours mourned my grandfather when he passed away, and how my father mourned one of his best friends.  They also attended weddings, and not only my grandparents’ neighbours. This coexistence and the culture of sharing existed among both Muslims and Jewish Moroccans in all cities.


Also, we talked about trade exchanges among us, Moroccans both Muslims and Jewish.  In addition, how they helped my grandmother to learn how to sew, and a lot of stories about this harmony from both historical and personal backgrounds.  We shifted to speak about other subjects such as Moroccan women’s status and their development due to the family code (Moudawana) and language diversity in Morocco. I informed them that as Moroccan Muslims there are both Arab and Amazigh Moroccan Jews. This surprised them. 


On their part, whatever we discussed they compared it with what they experience in the United States.  In that way, I have learned a lot from them as well. It was really a cultural exchange meeting. The ladies at the end wondered if coexistence as among Moroccans, Jewish and Muslims exists elsewhere, as it does over centuries and decades until now.  Because we were happy and excited by this meeting, I was supposed to stay for one hour but I stayed with these wonderful ladies for three hours. At the end of this friendly gathering, I suggested that we should take pictures all together as women with no differences and no boundaries.  And this was really my feeling.


Fruit for Thought at the Children’s Protection Center in Fes

The Fruit Tree Nursery at Abdelaziz Ben Driss, the Center for the Protection of Children in Fes as a Case Study

By Said El-Bennani
Fes, Morocco



According to the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Centers for Protection of Children in Morocco are those spaces that are responsible for the re-education of juvenile delinquents, who are referred by the judicial authorities in accordance with the requirements of the Criminal Procedure law. These centers also provide these young people’s educational services.

The number of such Youth Centers in Morocco is currently 20, with a capacity of 2075 young people, of which 15 centers are for males, five female centers and two social work clubs. The ages range from 12 to 18 years.

Environmental education plays a major role in establishing noble values within Moroccan society. From this point of view, we can observe that many young people are not aware of the importance of taking care of the environment that surrounds them. From here, we would like to share with you the experience of the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) in the Fes and Oujda regions, in implementing a sustainable development project in these areas.

The Moroccan Kingdom’s current orientation, or what is called the national goal, is to achieve sustainable development in all its parts and involve all constituent groups of society. HAF has participated in many projects that places more importance on preserving the environment and supporting sustainable development, which is one of its most important goals. HAF is working with various partners to achieve such projects in different parts of Morocco.




HAF is trying to involve local communities in the success of development projects. They aim to help a single human being, cooperatives, associations, or entire communities take on responsibility to develop the capacity to contribute to their own and their community’s development, by being involved in the decision-making processes, determining goals and pursuing issues of importance to them. The model that we have today is evidence of the efforts of HAF in various parts of Morocco and its different sectors. It has been more than a year since the start of this project, which was begun in order to integrate a certain category of Moroccan society into the development process, and which the Moroccan state seeks to achieve by involving all development actors.

The High Atlas Foundation has partnered with a local association in Fez, the "Association of Volunteer Experts" in partnership with the Delegation of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Fez and Meknes, and funded by ECOSIA. ECOSIA is a German search engine company which helps to plant trees around the world. The objective of this partnership is to establish a fruit tree nursery that respects organic standards, producing different types of fruits that will be distributed to local communities in the Fez and Meknes region. The target of this project is not only to provide local communities with trees, but also to integrate the children who live in this center within the project, so that they can benefit from agriculture training and access more environmental education. Indeed, a group of these children have been involved in many workshops undertaken by HAF.

The project has received approval and support from the Center staff, including the director, who is keenly aware of the importance of the project within the Abdelaziz Ben Driss Center, mainly due to the positive effects on the children who live there.  It will provide another activity in addition to the rest of the activities and workshops that they benefit from, such as the metal workshop, the non-formal education ‘’school’’, and some additional workshops, which are often fixed-term. Therefore, they did not hesitate to support this project by all the help available to them, and following the process of the project together with the members of HAF.




The number of beneficiaries during the agricultural training reaches 15 children. They are taught about agricultural skills and environmental issues. We introduce to them the role of this nursery in contributing to the development of some communities in their region, which are often dependent on agricultural activity as their primary source of income. The participation of the children from the center in this project allow them to contribute to the development of their communities. The seeds we plant with them became seedlings that will be distributed to their families and their communities.

We are always coordinating with the staff from the Abdelaziz Ben Driss Center to involve children in this sustainable project, which produces fruit trees organically. When the children join us in the nursery, we seek to share new ideas and techniques that they can use in their future life. They are always happy to join us to check the situation of the seedlings and see what it is in need of attention, such as watering and weeding. Children ask questions about the reasons for using any method, and the purpose of each technique and other questions asked by them are answered by members of the High Atlas Foundation or the Center staff.

The children involved in the project are becoming happier, as noticed when someone visited the center. They are constantly excited to demonstrate the change that took place after months, whereby most of seeds and cuttings grew to become trees.

We often hear these words from them: "Look at the seeds and seedlings that we have planted, they have become big trees!’’.




The Abdelaziz Ben Driss Center hosts children from different regions and cities, some of them who have grown up in rural areas. This means that they already have experience with some agricultural activities, such as the planting of trees on their farmland. When they are in the nursery workshop, they share the names of the local plants that grow in the center, and they often talk to each other about these plants and trees, and how they use them as medicinal herbs or as food for the sheep.

As for those who attend the workshops and for whom it is their first experience with agricultural activities, it is sometimes difficult for them to understand what is happening in the fruit tree nursery. However, with more participation in the activities and workshops, it becomes clear to them the importance of each stage, that the seeds need to become trees.




Children are also given the opportunity to learn from each other. Involving youth in different activities and in creating more workshops helps them to have the opportunity to grow and develop a personality that can become an engine of fulfillment in society.

The more training and workshops we organize for children in this situation, the more we contribute to transferring capacities to improve their living conditions. In another words, this kind of project (the development of a fruit tree nursery) helps to create a more active youth in Moroccan communities. 

Interview with President of the High Atlas Foundation, Yossef Ben-Meir, Ph.D.

This interview was conducted by Hajar Ennamli, a student of the National School of Commerce and Management in Oujda, with Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, president of the High Atlas Foundation.


29th October 2018


Q: Tell me a little about your negotiation experiences?

A: One can make the case that community development is ultimately a negotiation challenge. Can we assist communities in their own dialogue, negotiation, and consensus–building processes towards their creation of an action plan?

This successful negotiation creates the best chances for projects that have long life and sustainability. We must negotiate with donors about the extent of their support in order to help achieve the projects of the people. My interaction with the Board of Directors is always a negotiation, as we balance needs of communities, the capacities of the organization, and the vision that we seek to make real. We must negotiate with suppliers, with staff, as they work to help fulfill the needs of the people. It is likely true that life is a negotiation. Everyday, we work with others and somehow together, find and pursue areas of mutual gain and enhancement.


Q: In your opinion, what are the skills and qualities required for a successful negotiation?

A: The primary skills involved are asking questions to people, whom we meet and whom connect with our work, to draw out what they ultimately seek to be drawn out. We need to ask questions that elicit from people the essences of their life journeys, how they wish to progress forward, what creates satisfaction for them, and to connect to this how that individual can become further involved in development.

The qualities we need to do this, we can cultivate in ourselves. Our skills can be sharpened in order to inquire, listen, and make connections between people’s dreams and the achievement of human needs. However, there must exist genuine interest and care in the responses of others and how they feel. Without that our questions will never be as precise, will they provide the level of comfort needed for others to say what they most want to say.


Q: Do you prepare for negotiations? If yes, how do you prepare, and how do you set the objectives of negotiations?

Before entering a negotiation process, it is essential that in order for that experience to result in a win-win success, that there is an idea to know what we want from the perspective of HAF, its mission, and most importantly the communities we serve.

What are the project goals? What are the arrangements that we seek with a prospective employee? What are the limitations in regards to budget, time, and material that we can afford? What is it that we want based on the means that we have?

Without this understanding we won’t know the parameters of the negotiation or the direction to take the conversation with a current or prospective partner, colleague, or collaborator.


Q: Do you use emotions when negotiating? If yes, why?

This is a good question.

To some degree, emotions can be an effective tool to gain a sense of priority, urgency, or importance as to the subject or goals that we seek. Often, in order to be effective communicators and advocates for our organizations and the people that we serve, we need to assume the perspectives or ‘what it is to walk in the shoes’ of someone else, such as a girl denied education or opportunity, or a farmer without seed and facing prospects of a drought.

Emotions allow us to speak with the passion and determination that the subject of human development justifies. At the same time, we must also exercise boundaries over emotion, and to some degree, employ objectivity as an element that contributes to the search for solutions and equitable outcomes.


Q: What process do you follow during negotiations: including pre-negotiation and preparation phase, during negotiation, and post-negotiations?

A: It is important that the parties to the negotiation know the guidelines and what to expect - the principles that inform the approach. In our case, it is a participative approach which is always based on dialogue (intended to meet the interests and self-interests of all parties), partnership, and intended to tangibly enhance the lives of people.

Usually, I underscore that the success of a negotiation, beyond building relationships and learning experiences, is ultimately only successful when the experience creates real and measurable benefits in people’s lives in regards to income, health, and other vital areas of life. The negotiation itself needs to encourage interaction, ensure that all voices are heard, that parties face each other, that there is drink and food as necessary, and that the last word is always given to others.

Post-negotiation, if such a condition exists, should involve regular contact between the parties and be dedicated to the fulfillment of the action plans defined during the entirety of the negotiation process. Of course the fulfillment of any plan ought to give birth to new plans, and the negotiation process and relationship-building are constantly ongoing.


Q: Do you use methods to prepare for the negotiation?

A: There are two levels to this response. The first, in a sense, asks ‘how does one get their inspiration?’  The second question asks ‘how does one methodically put oneself in the best possible position to accomplish fair results?’

People gain inspiration in different ways, and it is important for each person to find out what works most effectively in her or his life. In my case, before entering a particularly important or public negotiation that involves complex matters and a level of uncertainty as to how the situation may unfold, I prefer a quiet moment before the occasion to echo, in my heart and mind, a gratefulness. In addition, I review in my mind the words and sentences that I will speak, in order to have a clear sense of topics and their flow. Furthermore, on certain occasions I will write out the subject matter and their order of presentation (on usually a small piece of paper) that I will never use during the event itself but still carry with me.

What is important is that the approach taken by anyone be based on the trials and errors of that person’s experience, further refined with new situations that we undergo.


Q: Do you take into consideration the background of the person with whom you have negotiated? What are the things you consider when negotiating with someone from another culture?

A: I do consider the background of the parties to a negotiation. This can rouse emotion within us to better feel and understand the life experiences of the other, and therefore, become more concerned about the interests and needs in their life.

However, it is not the background that I choose to highlight in the other, but it is for other people to convey the background and layers of their identity that are most formative, according to them. It is for me to inquire and acknowledge as to what they are. When we communicate with this intention in mind, the negotiation experience is actually an affirmation of ourselves in a way that we most want and seek.


Q: Can you give approximate statistics regarding the number of transactions you have made and how much have you won or lost?

A: In consideration of the aforementioned, specifically that life is in fact a negotiation, then attaching a number to the quantity of negotiations engaged in becomes an impossible task.  The number, I can only hope, resembles infinity. As to calculating the measure of success relative to failure, of negotiations that I have been involved with, that question is based on an unreal premise - negotiations in truth, have no end. And what may seem like a defeat today, is actually the postponement of a success known tomorrow. And what may seem like a great gain may be withdrawn during the passage of time. Negotiation is a non-linear spectrum that ultimately one does not fully control. With persistence and timeless loving values, it is offered the best chance of bearing good in this world.





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