HAF 1 of 10 civil society organizations participating in training on digital security


By Fatima Zahra Laaribi

Financial Manager and Trainer


   I had the honor of taking part in the 1st Maghreb Training of Trainers on Digital Security. The High Atlas Foundation was selected out of 95 associations from all over the Maghreb to further strengthen its capacities as a non-profit organization in the safe use of technology and information technologies, and mitigating digital harms and threats. This seminar was organized by SimSim-Citizen Participation (an independent nonprofit Moroccan association whose aim is to raise Moroccan citizens’ participation in managing public affairs through the use of ICTs: ) in partnership with Middle East and North Africa Innovation Network for Change (Innovation for Change initiative), which is a global network promoting civil space, bringing together activists and NGOs from six different regional centers in Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and America, Latin America and the Caribbean.


   The Trainees took a comprehensive course on Digital Security technologies, latest updates on Digital Threats, and different ways to deal with these threats.


   The participants represent 10 civil society organizations, headed by:

1. From Morocco: The High Atlas Foundation, Association of Southern Societies, and Association of Citizenship Friends;

2. From Tunisia: Tunisian Union for Media Association, Youth Without Borders Association, and Tunisian Association against  Cyber Crimes;

3. From Algeria: The Agora project in the Middle East and North Africa region and the Youth Forum of Algeria;

4. From Mauritania: Bonds Forum, Mauritanian Organization for Assistance and Social Solidarity, and Support for the Environment Protection.

The training session covered the following subjects:


·Protecting computers from malwares & hackers;

·Keeping sensitive files safe on your computer;

·Maintaining and protecting Internet communications, e-mail, and voice/text chat in particular;

·Protecting data upon use of Social Networks;

·Safe usage of basic and/or smart phones.


   To conclude the Training of Trainers course on Digital Security, and after handing Training Certificates to the trainers representing different organizations, there was a moment of reflection on the training and post-training outcome.


   Our sincere expressions of gratitude are extended to the wonderful Professor Bahaa Nasr and to the High Atlas Foundation President, Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, for supporting and encouraging his team to attend and represent the Foundation in such training courses.

High Atlas Foundation and MEPI in Oujda



On February 20, in partnership with the Middle East Partnership Initiative, HAF in Oujda conducted the first capacity-building workshop in the training room of Midar Agricultural Training Center located in the city of Midar, in the province of Driouch. This session knew presence of 19 participants men and women representing ten cooperatives from different areas of Driouch operating in different activities (cooking, livestock breeding, sewing, and bee keeping).

The first training module focused on Economic and legal rights as per Moroccan law. For four days, the participants benefit from training in three other modules namely, “Communication skills, marketing andnegotiations”, “Entrepreneurship concept and keeping finances” and “Hygiene, safety and sustainable development”.

All the participants in this group were impressed by the quality and innovation of this training. The training comes to fill in the gaps they have in all aspects related to governance, marketing, negotiation, communication, safety, environment, hygiene, labeling and branding and certification of products.



On February 21st, the conference room of the Proximity Center located in the city of Berkane accommodated the first training session for 23 participants men and women representing twelve cooperatives from different areas of the province of Berkane and operating in different activities (bee keeping, almond production, carpentry, baking and cooking, and livestock breeding).  The first training module focused on the same topic areas.  All the participants asked gave the impression that this training is interesting and relevant in a way that it gave the opportunity to gain detailed and practical knowledge to help them to do better in their respective cooperatives.



On February 22nd, the first training session took place in the conference room of ANAPEC facilities located in the city of Jérada for 17 participants men and women representing ten cooperatives from different areas of the province of Jérada operating in different activities (carpentry, weaving, couscous production and cooking, livestock breeding, artifacts, bee keeping).



Mr Abdelghani Jeffali from the Commune of Gafait, Jérada and member of the cooperative AlIkhoua giving his impressions about the first session of the training and expressing his thanks to all the parties involved in the organization of this training. His cooperative specializes in bee keeping and honey production. He determined to get full profit of this opportunity.



A group photo of Jérada team taken on February 25th at the end of the four days of the first session.


Developing Capability for Seed Storage and Preservation in Morocco

Developing Capability for Seed Storage and Preservation in Morocco

By Russ Zick

USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer


Small holder farmers in Morocco are engaged in upgrading their agricultural practices in order to increase income by expanding exports to Europe, the United States, and other Southern countries.  The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) has been engaged in that process with several programs such as assisting Moroccan cooperatives in obtaining organic certification for their walnut, almonds, and other products.  During the certification project, HAF, a Moroccan and U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated to using a collaborative approach to assure sustainable solutions, recognized there were gaps in the produce supply chain related to seed access and seed variety preservation. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN states that, “Food security is dependent on the seed security of farming communities” and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have increased awareness of the seed supply chain and food security for all developing countries.

HAF partners with Land O’Lakes International Development (LOL) to develop a project concept and proposal to improve seed access and preservation in the nut supply chain.  LOL, in turn, partners with USAID’s Farmer-to-Farmer program (F2F) to advance sustainable agriculture and forestry activities to enhance economic growth.

Teaming with High Atlas Foundation

HAF staff is a mix of Moroccans and volunteers from other countries, including men and women, young and old, and they manage a diverse mix of local development projects. Members provide a nurturing, encouraging environment. A typical workweek included attending presentations by staff, interns and other F2F volunteers on their projects. The presentations and comments were a means of project quality improvement, as well as team-building. The events also provided insight as to the fit of the seed storage project within the range of other HAF projects.  The daily routine of family-style group lunches was a way to share Moroccan food and hospitality with everyone that was congenial, memorable, and productive.  I found it an energizing and inspiring experience being included in this uniquely Moroccan HAF team.

Although the final objective of the assignment was clear from the start, “prepare a proposal to the Ministry of Agriculture for seed storage infrastructure improvement”, it took a week and three layout drafts, to clarify the need, size and nature of the concept plan.  HAF project managers provided guidance in discussions and site visits to help me understand in detail the need to assist farmers with capacity for two types of seed storage: 1) storing harvested nuts for short periods prior to post-harvest processing, and 2) storing endemic varieties of tree and wild medicinal plant seeds for ready access during the planting season, especially varieties under threat of being lost to more commercially viable varieties.  HAF partnering with the Idraren Cooperative had recently developed a business plan to produce 1,000 tons of certified organic walnuts.  Seed storage is therefore essential to meet production potential and market demand for years to come.



Seed banks facilitate development of local agriculture by conservation of region-specific crop diversity and introduction of new more productive varieties. Development agencies have noted that gaps and weaknesses in the seed supply chain sometimes lead to poor harvests, which are much more consequential for lower income and small holder farmers. For example, in a 2016 report, Access to Seeds Foundation noted, “Improving access to seeds for smallholder farmers is thus an essential part of the solution to global food insecurity.” And International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), reported, “Seed delivery systems are a major constraint for the uptake of the new varieties and genetic gain by farmers in many countries of the [north Africa] region.” Seed supply in Morocco was traditionally a government function that served large scale agriculture. Seed supply is changing in Morocco and a proposed seed storage and processing facility is part of community level efforts to address gaps in the seed supply for small holder farmers.


The assignment provided an opportunity to contribute to development of organic agricultural processing and diversification of endemic seed varieties, benefiting small holder farmers in rural areas. It also afforded the opportunity to use my mechanical engineering experience in agricultural applications and to facilitate the synthesis of a design concept in a cross-cultural setting. In preparation for the assignment, I activated my project engineering network, reviewed professional technical articles on seed storage facilities, and visited a USDA world-class seed storage lab in Colorado. In country, together with HAF colleagues, we visited SONACOS, a large scale quasi-government produce and seed storage distribution center, a large-volume government sponsored agricultural producers’ market, and the recently completed post-harvest processing center at the Idraren Cooperative, located in Asni of the High Atlas Mountains.

Temperature, humidity and seed moisture content are critical factors affecting vigor and viability of seed preservation during both short and long-term storage. Planning a seed storage facility requires space allocations capable of maintaining several different environmentally conditioned rooms. The proposed facility included temperature-controlled rooms for cool and cold storage and humidity-controlled rooms for air-drying, dehumidification and heated drying of seeds to provide capability to service a variety of different seed storage functions and volumes.



The most tangible accomplishment of the assignment was to give HAF a written proposal suitable for presentation to the Ministry of Agriculture. The proposal included a hand-drawn layout drawing, a project narrative describing the need and the proposed solution, a detailed cost estimate and a tentative implementation schedule. It is likely that the highest value of the concept plan will be to stimulate further discussion about the new seed capabilities needed. The concept plan is undergoing further revision before it is presented to the Ministry of Agriculture, but the plan will help to advance the discussions and can lead to improved access and preservation of seeds for small holder farmers.

There were other intangible impacts from the assignment. I will long remember the rhythm of the Marrakech day with the morning and evening calls to prayer, sleeping indoors with the door wide open to the quiet, perfectly cool night air, the excitement about an afternoon rainstorm, even though there was not much moisture; the aesthetic experience of sharing sweet mint tea, poured high above the glass to aerate the tea and the touch of a scorching hot glass. It’s also nice to feel I now have some friends and colleagues in Morocco.

HAF joins the Delegation of Education in Chichaoua for Earth Day event hosted by high school students

Earth day

By Eliana Lisuzzo

HAF Program Assistant


Just as every other nation in the world, Morocco faces consequences of climate change including higher temperatures, more extreme weather conditions, and rising sea levels due to the human population’s collective treatment of our earth. Morocco particularly struggles with waste management and rising urban air pollution. Without implementing preventative measures, the country’s ecosystem, agriculture, and economic activity will be severely impacted. 


Citizens throughout Morocco, like many others around the world, are therefore educating themselves about how human actions are threatening our world, climate change and its detrimental effects, as well as different methods of environmental protection. As a result, many are inclined to educate their peers in hopes of spreading awareness and inspiring them to do the same.


On 4/26/18, students at the Lycée Collegial Guemassa in the Chichaoua province did just that. In conjunction with the celebration of Earth Day earlier in the week, students organized presentations, workshops, and projects regarding a variety of topics including climate change, recycling, sustainable energy, and innovative agricultural methods, such as electric irrigation techniques, for their peers and provincial delegates. Thanks to an invitation extended by the director of Chichaoua’s Delegation of Education, Mr. BrahimAlmaadri,HAF staff members ErrachidMontassir and Eliana Lisuzzo were also able to attend the event. Mr. Almaadrimade it clear that it was a very selective process in choosing which school would host the event, and the Lycée Collegial Guemassa more than deserved the honor.



After our welcoming, we moved from classroom to classroom where students taught us about their selected topic in various ways. A few examples include: One student created a PowerPoint presentation to share his findings on climate change; other students showed us creative ways in which to recycle waste such as by crafting decorative pieces or even by making useful home good items including containers and rugs; and two girls impressively created a display showcasing the process of irrigation powered by electricity and explained its benefits as a useful agricultural technique. There were many more impressive projects and presentations made by the students. What we witnessed was not only the hard work, resourcefulness, and intelligence of Guemassa’s youth, but also their passion for the environment and preventing further damage to our home. 

Earth day 1 (Eliana)

To conclude the event, the school’s principal, Mr. Almaadri, Errachid, and Eliana took part in planting the first of 50 fruit trees in front of Lycée Collegial Guemassa. HAF has previously planted833 almond trees, 223 pomegranate trees, and 124 fig trees with schools in the Chichaoua province as part of our nursery program.

 It was a great day full of education and celebration—of our earth, Moroccan youth, and relationships, including the partnership between HAF and Chichaoua communities, and how we can all continuously work together to positively impact the environment. 

Earth day 2


Visionnaires d'hier et d'aujourd'hui

Thomas Kimmel

Un voyage récent au Maroc a été ma dix-septième mission de bénévolat avec le programme « Farmer to Farmer » de l'USAID.  Ce qui a fait que celui-ci est différent, c'est que l'horizon temporel se déroulera sur des décennies, par opposition à des semaines et des mois.  L'ingéniosité individuelle et de groupe crée un paysage d'arbres, tout comme la vallée de San Joaquin en Californie, qui était une plaine poussiéreuse et aride.  Les visionnaires doivent être reconnus pour que leurs visions puissent se concrétiser.  J'espère que vous publierez cette histoire de personnes qui font la différence.

Thomas Kimmell
Bénévole Farmer-to-Farmer de l'USAID


Visionnaires d'hier et d'aujourd'hui 
De Thomas Kimmell

Dans les années 1980, un Américain solitaire a eu un énorme impact sur Ouaouizerth, au Maroc, un village amazigh situé dans les montagnes de l'ouest du Haut Atlas.  Son nom était J. Christopher Stevens, un volontaire du Corps de la Paix. Eh oui! le même J. Christopher Stevens, qui, en tant qu'Ambassadeur américain en Libye, a été tué dans le raid sur Benghazi le 11 Septembre 2012. 

On se souvient encore de Chris comme de l'Américain husky qui vivait par les traditions de la communauté musulmane, même s'il n'était pas musulman.  Il était bien connu localement parce qu'il était toujours respectueux et ouvert aux gens de la ville. 

Il a appris l'arabe de Lhoussin Waali, à l'époque propriétaire d'une épicerie locale, qui à son tour enseignait l'anglais.  L'une des façons dont il a enseigné l'anglais à Lhoussin était de lui faire écouter les émissions radio de la BBC.  Lhoussin se souvient comment Chris et lui discutaient souvent les similitudes entre les religions musulmane et chrétienne.  L'arabe que Chris a appris ici a inspiré sa carrière dans le monde arabe.  Chris était également actif avec les enfants en enseignant l'anglais au centre de la jeunesse locale.  Il était si dévoué à aider les gens de Ouaouizerth qu'il resta avec eux une année de plus dans le Corps de la Paix.

Il était principalement connu localement par son nom de famille, Stevens.  Les gens se rappellent comment Stevens, lorsqu’invité à prendre le thé chez quelqu'un, il s’y rendait à pied quelle que soit la distance.  Il a laissé derrière lui le don de la connaissance.  Une grande tristesse a gagné le village de Ouaouizerth lorsque l’on apprit la mort de Stevens à la télévision. 

Trente ans plus tard, une organisation américaine à but non lucratif fondée par d'anciens vétérans du Corps de la Paix a honoré la mémoire de Chris en apportant des solutions – essentiellement - agricoles à Ouaouizerth.  La Fondation du Haut Atlas, fondée par Yossef Ben-Meir du Nouveau-Mexique, a récemment consacré une pépinière, juste à l'extérieur de la ville, à la mémoire de Chris Stevens.  La pépinière cultive des amandes et des plants d'oliviers pour la transplantation.  Le HAF cultive ces semis pour les donner gratuitement aux agriculteurs locaux.  La Coopérative paysanne (appelée Adrar, ou montagne) fournit les terres pour le nouveau verger et HAF fournit les arbres et l'expertise pour démarrer avec succès les nouveaux aboriculteurs/arboricultures sur leur chemin. 

Alors que la pépinière d'inspiration Stevens dessert la région de Ouaouizerth, la Fondation du Haut Atlas maintient actuellement onze pépinières dans tout le Maroc, en partenariat avec l'entreprise sociale Ecosia pour reproduire cette activité dans la plupart des régions du pays.  Ceci est la version moderne de « Donnez un poisson à un homme et il mangera pendant une journée, apprenez à un homme à pêcher et il pourra se nourrir toute sa vie ». 

Dans le village de Ouaouizerth, Hicham Farhat, le gardien de la crèche de la Fondation du Haut Atlas, est devenu le pilier de la culture des arbres pour les habitants de la ville et surtout pour les écoliers.  Cette semaine, il s'est présenté à l'école primaire et, avec les enfants, a planté des oliviers pour embellir la cour de l'école, et ce, uniquement grâce à la joie et à l'enthousiasme des enfants qui ont aidé à planter les arbres qui a dépassé son espérance.

La Fondation du Haut Atlas se consacre à la mission unique de cultiver des plants et de les distribuer aux producteurs, qui ne peuvent généralement pas les acheter.  Chaque région ayant ses propres conditions de croissance, divers pépinières sont cultivées dans les pépinières du Haut Atlas et comprennent la caroube, la noix, la grenade, la cerise, la figue, l'argan et le palmier dattier en plus des amandes et des olives mentionnées précédemment.  Le Haut Atlas est devenu le "Johnny Appleseed du Maroc" sauf que c'est avec plus d'un arbre à choisir. 

Comme vous pouvez l'imaginer, le gouvernement marocain est un partisan enthousiaste des contributions foncières à ce programme, même s’il ne contribue pas financièrement.  Le principal soutien financier provient de donateurs individuels et de subventions (comme celles d'Ecosia).  L'établissement de la pépinière de Ouaouizerth en 2013 a été rendu possible par le Bureau des Océans, de l'Environnement et de la Recherche Scientifique du Département d'État Américain.  Les avantages évidents sont pour les producteurs qui plantent les arbres alors que les contributions « vertes » difficiles à quantifier sont substantielles.  La création de « forêts » de vergers crée un mécanisme de déplacement du carbone qui va de pair avec la production d'oxygène et la prévention de l'érosion.  Toutes les pépinières utilisent l'irrigation dite "au goutte-à-goutte, une technologie du 21ème siècle qui est adaptée aux contraintes d’une nation aride sans ressources en eau à épargner.

Les actions de la Fondation du Haut Atlas répondent à l'esprit de J. Christopher Stevens depuis plus de trente ans:  il avait le désir d'améliorer les choses pour les Marocains.  Le concept de culture et de don d'arbres est un effort unique, qui ne se passe qu'au Maroc.  Tout comme "Stevens" a fait de son mieux pour les Marocains, ainsi que le Haut Atlas avec son objectif ambitieux de couvrir le pays avec des arbres fruitiers et des noix.

En écrivant cet article, j'ai réalisé que j'avais aussi rejoint le travail d'autres Américains qui ont agi au Maroc.  Ma carrière a été consacrée à l'irrigation, or au Maroc aucun verger ne pousse sans eau.  L'ajout d'une composante eau aux efforts du Haut Atlas signifie que les vergers pourront survivre et prospérer.

Tom Kimmell est le directeur exécutif à la retraite de l'Irrigation Association, qui fait maintenant du bénévolat pour le programme « Farmer to Farmer », créé par le Congrès américain.  Le Maroc fait partie du programme et est géré par Land O 'Lakes International Development.


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HAF in Morocco

High Atlas Foundation
4 Rue Qadi AyaadAl Manar 4A - 3rd floor - Appt. 12 El Harti, Guéliz, MARRAKESH 40.000 - Morocco

Tel: +212 (0)5 24 42 08 21
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Directions to HAF Marrakech Office


High Atlas Foundation
High Atlas Foundation 511 Sixth Avenue, #K110, NEW YORK, NY 10011

Phone: +1 (646) 688-2946
Fax: +1 (646) 786-4780

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