World Water Day (22 March 2014) is a celebration of the gift of water in our lives and an opportunity to reflect on the importance of clean water for a healthy lifestyle and for socio-economic development. Celebrated since 1992 when it was launched at the UN conference on Environment and Development, this year the UN has chosen the theme of Water and Energy to highlight the interdependence between the two vital elements.
In his message on the World Water Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “On World Water Day, let us pledge to develop the policies needed to ensure that sustainable water and energy are secured for the many and not just the few.”
The High Atlas Foundation celebrates this special day by reflecting on our past and current efforts to address the insufficient quantities and poor quality of water, along with lack of access to adequate sanitation facilities in rural Moroccan communities, particularly in the provinces of Al Haouz, Taroudant, Rhamna, Azilal and other provinces where we serve the people.
In Morocco, access to clean water remains one of the most serious problems affecting rural families. While 100% of the urban population is considered to have access to safe water, 58% of people living in the rural areas have no access to piped water and rely upon private and public wells, irrigation ditches, springs, streams and cisterns (rain catching systems) for their water supply. Consequently, they are constantly exposed to and are afflicted by water-borne diseases.
HAF’s approach to capacity building with local communities to address this serious problem consists of several stages and different elements that are implemented throughout the project cycle. The most important are:
· Raising preventive health-care awareness and mobilizing communities
· Creating Community Drinking Water Users associations
· Delivering practical training and support
· Building the water systems and delivery infrastructure
· Encouraging peer learning
· Involving local partners
Eighteen clean drinking water systems were built in eighteen remote rural villages (all successfully locally sustained), vitally benefiting approximately 4,000 people. HAF trains local facilitators to increase the number of communities engaged in addressing their most pressing development challenges and act in order to get better access to safe water and appropriate sanitation facilities.
On this year’s World Water Day, we are grateful for our achievements in assisting these communities to have access to drinking water resources. We redouble our commitment to continue our efforts to develop innovative and participatory projects for better access to water as a fundamental human right, and for other essential human development projects in education, economic growth and empowerment.
HAF’s strategy to advance drinking water projects to scale in Morocco is through its organic agriculture enterprise, High Atlas Agriculture and Artisanal, which reinvests part of the net profits from the sale of organic product in community-determined projects, which for so many is clean drinking water.
On a last and important note, HAF has developed with the Jrifia commune of the Boujdour province (in the Moroccan Sahara) a drinking water proposal to benefit 6 nomadic and 2 fishing villages, bringing transformative benefits for more than 20,000 people. On this Day, we express our most deep hope that this and all other water projects be implemented, and soon.