panorama of place in morocco

Projects

photo of project area photo of project area photo of project area photo of project area photo of project area

Note: From 22 to 25 October 2010 we will be hosting a Permaculture Introductory course in french with L'Université Populaire de Permaculture . This will be held in Marrakech and on a nearby project land. See http://marocpc.ning.com/

The people in the highland region we visited outlined their main problems to us. Living in such a remote area they don't have many people to approach about their problems, and are a low priority for those few they can talk to. Having internet access would enable them to make direct contact with those who are in a position to help them. With this in mind we have started to help with clean drinking water, and are building a community centre and permaculture project which will also include a school for local children.

School/Community Center

The building will serve part of the Tribal Area known as Ait Attab, made up of the three villages, Igourdane, Ait Larbi and Immoukel, along with various farms and other residences. Children have to walk up to 7km each way at present to the existing school.

Aside from its use as a school, the center can be used for other community activities. Outside of school times, internet access should be the main function of the building, because that is what will be of most benefit generally to the most people. See the Ikhef Nissiki Center page for more.

Water and Sanitation.

photo of dried up river bed There is an acute shortage of water every summer in the region. Rain only falls in the winter and quickly drains away. Some of the wells are contaminated, and most of the drinking water has to be carried great distances on foot. There is little water for irrigation, other than what falls in December and January, and a failed aqueduct project from 5 years ago illustrates well the difficulties in pumping water up almost a kilometer in height. Using the internet we are trying to help find some solutions, with a number of possibilities opening up. More about this on the Water page

Permaculture

None of the other things solve the fundamental problem. If we could find a way to keep water up in the mountains instead of running straight off down to the sea, that would be the best. We found out about a project in Jordan that seems to be working in even worse circumstances than experienced here. See this short presentation. Geoff and Nadia Lawton from the Permaculture Research Institute visited the place in December 2008, and we will be part of the Institute's "Permaculture Centres Worldwide" initiative.

Firewood

We didn't get to talk to many women while we were there, and I think that's why we were not told about the firewood problem. Looking around, we could see no deadwood anywhere. To cook meals and to sterilze water, heat is necessary, and this is either from firewood or heavy gas bottles carried up from town. Firewood has to be collected from far and wide. Anyway, solarcookers.org might be a good solution. We were told that the women do have to spend a lot of time collecting firewood, when we asked about it.

Migration

We met only young children, mothers and older men. Nearly all the young leave as soon as they are old enough to seek work in the towns and cities. This is the worst thing that can happen to a community, short of complete disappearance. Things like the possible permaculture project, and even just the presence of a decent internet connection and the benefits it might bring, could help encourage people to stay on and make a go of the place. Many find only unemployment, drugs and destitution in the city anyway.