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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
Marrakech
Bénévole Farmer-to-Farmer de l'USAID

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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.

 

HAF invests in UCA students to spread the participatory approach in Morocco

By Errachid Montassir

HAF Project Manager

The growth of sustainable development as a mainstream concept and practice in Morocco has been progressing but not as much as most people (particularly rural, and women and youth everywhere) have hoped.  Morocco has progressive and helpful laws and programs that give the opportunity and responsibility to all communities to participate in planning, manage initiatives, and build proposals for development projects.  Projects then will naturally be different depending on the priorities of youth, women, and farmers’ needs, consistent with the new vision of decentralization which plays an important role of making each community involved in its own projects and responsible for working through the challenges.  Yet, implementation faces considerable obstacles for local communities to apply participatory development (without them having practical prior experiences as to how) and to create project proposals for funding by government and private agencies.

The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) has a wide network, partnering with seven universities in Morocco, implementing capacity-building in development planning and management with students, and advancing local participation in planning and implementing socio-economic projects.  We do this together by way of experientially training students, faculty, members of civil society, elected officials, government technicians, community leaders, and citizens. HAF's partnerships with universities in Morocco has achieved effective skills-building with more than 2,000 students in the areas of needs assessment for community action planning, organizational development, and project management.

During the month of March 2018, culture, history, and sustainable development were are brought together by HAF in its organization of workshops on participatory planning for projects with 122 students at the Faculty of Human Science and Literature, at Cadi Ayyad University (UCA).  UCA has once again been designated the leading higher learning institution in Morocco, the Maghreb region, and “Francophone” parts of Africa at-large, according to a recent university ranking published by the London-based, Times Higher Education.

The objectives of the workshops are those of sustainable development: building knowledge and skills with students with the aim of enhacing their morale, agency, and enduring productivity on behalf of themselves and communities.

With facilitation by Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, president of the High Atlas Foundation, the first workshop was launched on 11 March 2018, starting with discussion of the Moroccan development frameworks for participatory action, which was a central point between the students and HAF’s team.  As His Majesty the King Mohammed VI insightfully stated at the Johannesburg Conference 2002, that "after the different tremors and the violent crises which shook the world recently, is everybody convinced now that fostering sustainable development is everyone’s responsibility."

The 122 students experienced the participatory method--pairwise-ranking--and other methods of the community planning, which enable not only students, but all people to play an active and influential part in decisions which impact their lives. All the students were wonderfully involved in making decisions by coming to consensus on their project priorities, which are as follow:

       -  The system managment of administration: this plays an essential role in letting the relations between the university administration and the students to be transparent with greater open communication.

      - Health care: the main point is to improve quality student health at the university, and to cover its associated costs.

     - Electronic library: this will be very helpful for the students to much more easily discover informative sources.

The HAF is always following up with communities, youth, women, and cooperatives to evaluate and advance on all the steps of development projects.  On Sunday, 25 March 2018, the HAF came back to assess the students’ practices and what they have learned through the first session, and to organize for action.  During a great morning, Dr. Ben-Meir opened the second part of the workshop that brought new students to learn about HAF's participatory approach. All the students were able to follow up with the priorities of the first session.  They also divided into 3 groups, and each group built their team and solutions for their projects, such as the strategy to create more clubs and majors at the University.

Before HAF delivered 122 Certificates of Completion to the students, the workshops ended with a fruitful discussion about the future upcoming training with the UCA students, which is an international program called "Imagine" for women to create the life they most want.

The certificates deliverd to the UCA students is a recognition of their dedications to sustainable community development and spreading the culture of collaboration.  "I must hug you [Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir] and thank a lot the High Atlas Foundation about this such wonderful chance to realize that we really have communities, and that we should care and help in developing  them," one of the UCA students expressed.

An essential basis for development in Morocco is the agency of university students.  They are current and future leaders who play a fundamental role in developing their country. 

HAF continues to expand the participatory approach among Moroccan students and communities…

TREES for a FRUITFUL FUTURE

By Mohamed Abdel-Rahman, Ph.D.

USAID-HAF Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer

Marrakech

 

The Farmer to Farmer (F2F) program is a USAID development initiative that is implemented throughout the world. During the past 20 years, I had the opportunity to volunteer for 80 assignments in 14 countries. In Morocco, the F2F program is administered by Land O’Lakes International Development (LOL), a U.S. agricultural cooperative, who provided me with the opportunity to volunteer in Morocco for the first time.

 

My assignment title was (Improvement of schools tree nurseries) and was hosted by the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) in Marrakech.  HAF is a US non-profit organization founded in 2000 for the purpose of advancing sustainable development in Morocco and assists communities in achieving their projects in agriculture, education, health, and multiculturism. HAF is headed by Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir and very dedicated staff members.

 

SAMI’s PROJECT enables students to thrive in a healthy school environment. The Project spreads the culture of planting among students so that they may discover and practice innovative agriculture techniques. HAF assists primary schools through to universities to develop and establish plant nurseries and wild gardens. These school nurseries provide students with hands-on learning opportunities in organic green culture and sustainable income development.  The Project also promotes school infrastructure, such as building classrooms, bathrooms, and clean water systems.

 

The High Atlas Foundation has eleven nurseries in five provinces of Morocco, where they produce varieties of organic fruit trees, forestry trees, and herbal and wild medicinal plants. Trees include; almond, Argan, carob, cherry, fig, grape, lemon, olive, pomegranate, quince, and walnut.  Plants also include Calendula officinalis.

 

Since 2003, HAF planted approximately 3 million seeds and trees with farming families and schools, which impacted thousand household incomes. During this 2018 planting season (January through March), HAF’s SAMI’s PROJECT planted 15,000 trees with 155 schools engaging 18,000 students in 23 provinces.

 

During my assignment I visited middle and high schools, met with staff and observed students while they planted trees in their schoolyards. School boys and girls worked together, were full of energy and enthusiasm, and expressed connection with the environment.

 

Planting trees helps the environment, builds forestry, produces food and a source of income for families, connect students and communities with nature, and promote organic green growth. HAF provides a good model that is transferable beyond Morocco for green organic growth and development.

 

HAF Thanks Ecosia

Ecosia, a social business based in Germany, has made green, empowering, sustainable, and soon a prosperity-generating difference with farming families and schools in 23 provinces of the Kingdom of Morocco.  A wonderful partner, Ecosia is enabling the fulfillment of true Moroccan stories of youth finding opportunity, women's greater agency, diverse partnership, multiculturalism, natural restoration, and organic product for market and healthy consumption.
 
Thank you, Ecosia, for helping the people's dreams come true.

HAF and Al Akhawayn University Plant Trees with Communities in Azrou

The HAF-Fes Team organized last Sunday a tree planting event at Azrou, with students from Al Akhawayn University and the village association at Ain Aghbal. One of the professors from Al Akhawayn University, Dr. Duncan Rinehart, participated in the day.  Professor Rinehart is a former colleague of HAF President Yossef Ben-Meir, when he was a faculty member at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at AUI.   
 
HAF distributed to the farmers 2590 fruit trees: 650 pomegranate, 400 grapes, 1500 almond, and 40 fig.
 
We planted some trees with the local farmers, men and women. Professor Rinehart was the first person to plant a tree. The farmers were so happy to receive the trees without cost; because of the trees planted, the farmers' land will gain more value. 
 
It was a rainy day, but even with that we had a good start for planting the trees on the community's land. 
 
Thank you, Al Akhwayn University, for lending HAF land for the community tree nursery that serves the region and beyond, and to Ecosia for providing the trees. Thank you to everyone for attending and helping us to organize this beautiful day.  Enjoy the photos.

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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
Fax+212 (0)5 24 43 00 02 

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

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