HAF seeks partnerships with Moroccan universities to engage with youth and collaborate with ongoing academic initiatives. Al Akhawayn University is a particularly suitable choice for such a project. Situated in the town of Ifrane in the Middle Atlas region, it was founded in 1995 as an independent educational institution possessing an international outlook.
In 2014 the university signed an agreement with HAF to create an on-campus organic fruit tree nursery, containing 50,000 mainly walnut and almond saplings, for the benefit of surrounding communities in the Ifrane-Azrou region. The nursery is a gateway project for increased opportunities for student engagement in community development in their region.
Morocco faces considerable threats to food security due to the impact of climate change, soil erosion and deforestation. Furthermore, 85 per cent of rural Moroccan farmers earn less than the national average, compelling them to make the transition to planting cash crops that generate significantly greater income, such as the fruit tree varieties that HAF plants in its community-managed nurseries.
A further civic impact will be realized since workshops and training sessions will promote sustainable development practices through participatory approaches. In terms of the university, this is a possible precursor to a formal center on the Mohammedia model.
Over three years, utilizing the student-community model established at Al Akhawayn and Hassan II University in Mohammedia, HAF aims to enter into partnership with additional Moroccan universities to implement learning-by-doing training and research in participatory community methods for human development.