By Ryan Lenz
High Atlas Foundation Volunteer
5 December 2016
“Everything will seem easier after this,” proclaimed Professor Jeffrey Sachs to the outgoing General Secretary Ban Ki Moon at an event in New York, this past Wednesday evening. Sachs, the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, hosted the Secretary-General on behalf of the New York Society for Ethical Culture to honor his service at the United Nations for the better part of the last decade. “Ban Ki Moon was always able to manage under remarkable pressures and get us where we are this evening,” Sachs remarked.Moon was presented with an award for Ethics In Action before taking the podium to speak about his time as Secretary-General.
Inside the High Atlas Foundation’s operating office, I personally feel the family and responsibility spirit, which are motivating everyone to do their own best and seriously consider every single task as a mission.
Fatima Zahra Laaribi, the office manager said that being a female on the team is a point of strength. Regarding the Foundation’s policy and encouragement in recruiting females and their employment, and basing on her experience since 2012, she states that the Foundation is taking serious steps to empower women among the Moroccan community. Fatima Zahra also said that COP22 was a mighty experience - it was a chance for her to contact different people and to have new experiences.
Marwa, a Women’s Empowerment Intern, said that COP22 was a great opportunity to learn from initiatives and creative ideas. In addition, attending “WECAN” and hearing international stories of indigenous women fighting climate change made her feel the importance of fighting as a Palestinian woman to save the planet.
Amina thinks that, organizing the COP22 in Morocco for this year is a great honor both for Morocco and Moroccans. Also, the participation of countries from all over the world shows how they care about the environment and its sustainability. During COP22, there was effective participation of children, women and men, and a lot of workshops about environmental projects which also show that awareness and responsibility towards environment have increased. Moreover, COP22 was an opportunity for HAF to talk about its projects and activities in preserving the environment. HAF was honored to know other associations from all over the world
Transitioning to a green economy compliant with ecological balances and capable of opening new opportunities for wealth creation and sustainable jobs, has become part of a major objective of the new sustainable development strategies being pursued by some countries in North Africa, especially Morocco.
Environmental constraints (water stress, land degradation, overly strong energy dependence, vulnerability to climate change, various types of pollution) and the limitation of economic growth and social development policies to create jobs and reduce social and spatial disparities, require a shift of economic modeling to that of a green and inclusive economy, able to create jobs, help reduce poverty and curtail territorial development imbalances.
In Morocco, some remote rural communities still live in areas that do not have access to electricity, clean drinking water, or the infrastructure to support their health and educational needs beyond the primary level. Further, investments in human capacities and development tend to favor men over women. For example, it is up to women to bring safe drinking water one kilometer if not more far from their houses and to collect fire wood. Additionally, illiteracy rate is very high among women in rural areas. One can, thus, begin to understand how difficult life is for rural Moroccan women.
Our area of study, in which a women’s weaving Cooperative will take place, called Ighil, a village in Haouze province. This area ranks among the poorest in all Morocco. Comprised mostly of rural farming communities, it has little access to infrastructure like electricity, water, and roads. The village in the foothills of the High Atlas still practices a subsistence economy of agriculture and pastoralism in steep, difficult areas resulting in their earning some of the lowest incomes nationally.
Illiteracy rates are 92 percent among Ighil women (83 percent among men). Most of girls drop out just after the primary school since the secondary and high schools are too far for them. Health dispensaries are still too distant for many families to reach in times of emergency, and at present medical consultations and health education campaigns rarely take place in the village.
Within the general framework of empowering women for development, this future project is an attempt to advance the socio-economic status and democratic participation of women and girls. The broad-based support among women and men for the proposed cooperative grew as a result of the participatory approach which builds social cohesion and local people’s skills to analyze their situation, reach consensus, make decisions, and take action to improve their circumstances. The cooperative project will create more equitable and sustainable development by increasing control over newly generated resources by local women whose social and economic marginalization has a negative impact on the family and the wider community.
My name is Rachida. I was born in 1977. I am married with three kids. I spent my childhood in a beautiful rural environment: in the Village of Tnein, in Ourika’s Commune of Al Haouz province. I’ve reached High School but did not complete it.
Now, I am the president of Aboghlo’s Cooperative for women in Ourika’s village. The cooperative works in activities, such as; producing and marketing couscous, medicinal plants and sweets. In addition, the cooperative works in planting fruit trees, as well as medicinal and aromatic plants. The High Atlas Foundation gave us the opportunity to participate in many workshops of the participatory approach, organic agriculture, making organic fertilizers, and in founding our cooperative. In addition, we experienced workshops about empowerment and building our inner strength.
All of my life, I have dealt with influences of climate change, and I started to notice some changes which did not exist before. For example, winter was known to be very cold with a lot of rain, also mountains were covered with snow, and irrigation water was sufficient. Moreover, spring was known to have green fields, fruitful trees and beautiful nature. As a result, this guaranteed farmers a good harvest season.
In the past we were living in natural balance with the climate, but now because of the environmental disorders and climate imbalance, we have a lot of drought, high temperatures, excessive cold, and low rainfall, which are caused by emitted gases from industrial factories, dangerous chemicals, cutting trees and lack of green spaces, although we live in a rural agricultural village with a traditional lifestyle, opposite of urban inhabitants who have a modern lifestyle.
Furthermore, the more the environment is polluted, the more the life of different species on earth are threatened, and not only humans. The more there is imbalance in the ecological system, the more the universe is threatened.
This is a complicated structural problem, since it is related to drought, desertification, widening the ozone hole, high temperature of earth, water pollution, spread of diseases and illnesses and demographic growth caused from urban building and rural impoverishment.
Concerning the rights of Amazighi Women, in general their rights are not different than the women in Morocco, they all have the same rights and the same duties. However, the difference is in the high rate of school drops of women in rural areas comparing with urban areas. As a result they suffer from illiteracy, knowing less about women’s rights, which makes them unable to show their abilities, personal and professional skills.
However, I wish us all on earth to be able to fight climate change, in order to live in a stable environment without natural disasters. It is our duty to ourselves, to Allah.
العربية تتبع الانجليزية
As a representative of the High Atlas Foundation, I would like to sincerely thank WECAN for organizing this great event, and the women participants representing their countries in addition to the respected audience.
My name is Amina ElHajjami. I am Amazighi from the commune of Tidilli Misfeewa in High Atlas Mountains outside of Marrakech’s city. I have a degree in Geography, and have been a project manager of the High Atlas Foundation for two years and a half. At the Foundation, I facilitate the participatory approach, help grow nurseries, assist cooperatives and associations for women and conduct workshops to build different skills-sets.
Being raised in a mountainous area, and connected through my work and studies to the environment, I feel a direct impact of climate change, and I think it is one of the most important subjects in human life due to the impact and vulnerability on the environment and the human being.
We can say that a long time ago Morocco applied many techniques in order to fight climate change whether traditional or modern.
According to traditional techniques, water is collected individually or collectively in order to be conserved and used logically. Water is divided among farmers according to available lands. Terraces are built in the mountains to prevent soil erosion and floods. Farmers are encouraged to use organic fertilizers for the benefit of fruit trees and agricultural crops through workshops about organic agriculture. We also encourage farmers to plant trees in their own lands and also in public lands for economic and environmental goals.
In addition, customs have an important role in fighting climate change. For example, inhabitants of mountains divide water equally between families by building small dams which are called “Okook,” with preference to inhabitants living on top of mountains.
Furthermore, Morocco also work hard using modern techniques to fight climate change. Morocco has built dams in valleys known to cause sudden floods of farmers’ lands in the areas nearby.
Also, the building of sewage systems for urban communities and some rural areas. Drip irrigation systems are used by many farmers who aim to save and conserve water. Moreover, the spread of using natural energy, such as solar, water and wind are very important in decreasing the intensive use of electric energy. Recycling households and factories garbage helps decrease the negative impact on environment.
Despite the big impact of climate change on women, but there are solutions and initiatives which came from women aiming to fight it. Women attended conferences and meetings using participatory approach with actors who are fighting climate change in order to learn more about the danger threatening rural communities. Moreover, women initiated planting trees, participating in learnings and practical workshops about organic agriculture, and also using natural fertilizers, which enabled women to be aware of dangerousness of cutting trees.
Despite the efforts Morocco is making to fight climate change, they are not enough, and they will not be fruitful unless there are more efforts through participatory approaches including government officers, local communities, civil societies - public and private sectors, and especially industrial countries.
However, from this position, I approach women all over the world with the message that they themselves have the power to fight climate change more than others, and they can only do that through confidence that they can be the change makers, first by changing their attitude to environment, and by improving their society second.
Also, I approach everyone who is responsible for climate change on an international level, that we do not want superficial solutions, or speeches and events, but we want actual solutions and real actions in adherence to creative ideas of future generations, as our previous ancestors did before for our sake. We want you to think of environment as we are living all in one big house, and if there was a defect or disorder in one of the walls, it will result in the house collapsing, as it is the case in our planet’s environment.
Finally, I would like to thank you all again, and I wish everyone all over the world a successful humane journey in fighting climate change, with the help of God. INSHA’ALLAh