The Atlas Mountains Project is a long term project of the Rotary Club of San Carlos led by Rotarian Steven C Carlson. With matching funds from Rotary International we will work with Moroccan and international organizations to bring sustainable clean water development to remote areas of the Atlas Mountains. With proficiency in Berber, Arabic, and French, and with on-going ties to the area, we are in a unique position to be able to establish constructive relations with locals at all levels of society and promote health and peace in this exciting and exotic area of the world.
Morocco as a strategic development priority
Morocco is a priority opportunity for development work. It is one of the few countries in the Islamic world that is maintaining a stable and peaceful society, and thus serves an important bridge between Western countries and the Middle East. We would like to do our part to keep it that way. Historically, Morocco was the first country in the world to recognize the United States diplomatically. It is also strikingly beautiful and within easy reach for an exciting trip, where you can see firsthand the work we intend to do.
Water is life
Clean water is the foundation of life. Where Steve was a volunteer, as is common throughout the developing world, waterborne illness was the number one cause of death. The family that hosted him had 9 children, only four of which lived – a very common tale. By providing a reliable source of clean water, so many hardships are alleviated. Women and girls no longer need to spend hours of their day drawing water, and caring for sick children, which allows them to attend school and read. A drop in the mortality rate should decrease the pressure to have the large families that are typical of the area. And recognition of Rotary’s contribution to the local communities should promote and sustain the basic appreciation that Moroccans have for America.
Rotary Marrakesh – Majorelle
We will work with the Rotary Club in the Majorelle district of Marrakesh, which has made water development in the High Atlas Mountains a priority with their club. They are wrapping up an impressive piping and cistern project, and we look forward to identifying a new project to work on together. This all-women’s club is a “do-er” group, and we’re excited to work together with them.
Modeled on the U.S. Peace Corps, Corps Africa provides an internal service organization for African countries, currently Morocco, Senegal, and Malawi. Now in its third year, it sends recent host-country university graduates with an interest in development work into the rural parts of those countries. In Morocco, one of the areas they target is the High Atlas Mountain region outside of Marrakesh. We intend to co-sponsor one Corps Africa volunteer (in tandem with the State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative). With these volunteers’ “boots on the ground” we intend to have them perform a needs assessment of the areas where they are serving. Based on their recommendations, together with the help of Rotary Marrakesh, we intend to identify discrete projects to tackle. Because Corps Africa-Morocco and Rotary Marrakesh are well-connected at all levels of Morocco central and local government, we hope our initiatives will be well-supported there, with a sustainable long-term future. The Corps-Africa’s website is corpsafrica.org.
H2OpenDoors is a fabulous organization based right here in San Carlos. Led by Jon Kaufman, H2OpenDoors focuses on installing SunSpring water purification systems throughout the world, including in Mexico, Guatemala, Thailand, and the Phillipines. The SunSpring system outputs up to 5000 gallons a day of clean water, using solar power and readily-available filter systems. We hope to find a suitable site for a SunSpring system, and ideally set up a bottling system that would allow local communities to develop a commercially-sustainable business, including selling clean bottled water to villagers and tourists. Their website is h2opendoors.org.
Summary of the Plan:
Initially we will co-sponsor one Corps Africa-Morocco volunteer. The group of volunteers stationed in the High Atlas region will perform needs assessments for the communities where they are living. One question they will address is whether a SunSpring system would be suitable for their areas.
At the same time we will continue to work with Rotary Marrakesh to identify an appropriate project, and develop a plan to carry it out. With Rotary Marrakesh and the project plan, we will apply for a Rotary Global Grant, which will leverage the funds that we raise.
Depending on the projects they identify, and the suitability of the SunSpring system for the local needs, we may organize an expedition in late 2016 or 2017 to help install this system and make plans for future projects – to which you will be invited!
Over the years, we intend to extend this project to other areas within Morocco. We hope to make this a long-term project of our club and an exciting project for peace.