High Atlas Mountains Project: Update (Nov 2016)


Thank you all who have contributed to the High Atlas project of the San Carlos Rotary Club. Through our Reubens for Rotary fundraiser in June, we raised over $17,000.   Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!  We have been making good headway toward the water project we are planning.

The area we are targeting for our water project is the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, where San Carlos Rotarian Steve Carlson served in the Peace Corps.  The village, called Ait Daoud, is in the province of Ourzazate, above the town of El Kelaa Mgouna.  If you see pictures of Marrakesh, with snow-capped mountains in the background, Ouarzazate province is on the far side of those mountains.  It is the edge of the Sahara desert, and is a fabulously rugged and beautiful place.

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The region obtains much of its water from snowmelt from the mountains.  When Steve lived there, there was no electricity nor piped water. Child mortality was very high, in the range of 30-40%.  Drinking water was either obtained from a system of irrigation ditches, or from wells or springs.  None of the water was treated.  The ultimate goal of our project is to bring clean drinking water to that village.

We are pursuing this project with two other organizations at this time — Rotary Club of Marrakesh-Majorelle, and Corps Africa-Morocco.  The Rotary Club of Marrakesh has recently completed a water piping project in another region of the High Atlas Mountains.  We were put in touch with that group through the Rotary network, and identified Khadija El-Bourkadi as our counterpart.  While initial discussions with her were in Steve’s broken French, eventually she coyly revealed that she has a bachelor’s degree in English literature.  Coordination with her has been a lot easier ever since!

Shortly after our event, Corps Africa-Morocco sent one of their members, Aziz Noujoum, to visit Ait Daoud.  He found Steve’s former Berber host, Si Abderahmen Ait Tazarine, and they surveyed the water situation.  Here is a photo of the well from which the people get their drinking water:3de2b440-c5a1-43eb-98bf-378209735c5a-l0-001-15

and a photo of the irrigation ditch that provides water for their fields:

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In on-going discussions with people from Ait Daoud, the immediate priority we have identified is to line the irrigation ditch with concrete.  This will provide increased volume of water to the fields, to avoid loss of water by absorption through the ground.  The irrigation ditch is about 4 kilometer (2 miles) long.  Here is a photo of an example that we would likely follow, using pre-fab concrete slabs to reinforce the irrigation ditch:

ditchOnce that irrigation ditch is reinforced to increase water for their fields, then we expect to turn our attention to drinking water. For example, we may lay a water pipe alongside the concrete, to run water from a distant spring to the school of Ait Daoud.  We have in mind installing a SunSpring water purification system next to the school, where a water bottling operation could be begun.  This could not only provide a source of clean water for all the people in the village, it could also be a commercial enterprise.  So we look forward to this as a likely “Step 2” once the irrigation ditch is improved.


Steve will be traveling with his family to Morocco at the end of the year.  He will be speaking at the Rotary Club of Marrakesh on December 28.  Members of Corps Africa will be attending as well.  The next day they will travel to Ouarzazate province for the site inspection.  The goal will be to coordinate with the local villagers, to firm up the technical plan for the project, and to get a budget for the full project.  Thereafter we hope to file an application for a Global Grant with Rotary International, with the Rotary Club of Marrakesh as our partner in Morocco.

Plans (and cooking) are underway for Reubens for Rotary 2017.  This will be Sunday, June 4.  Steve has already set up a wheel of parmesan cheese, to start the culinary extravaganza.  We hope you can join us.

Meanwhile, donations are always welcome.  We welcome your generosity.  Please click on the Donate button below.  And thank you, thank you, thank you, for all your support.  We are working hard to put your contributions to work!

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