Categories: Features Morocco Z-Headlines

American Woman Strives to Bring Drinking Water to Moroccans in Atlas Mountains

A recent report revealed Morocco as one of the most water-stressed countries in the MENA region, listing it as the 22nd in the overall ranking.

Rabat – The water crisis has been a global issue, leaving no country untouched.

In recent years, and with the emergence of social media as a means to voice concerns, people have started sharing videos to express their frustration over the water crisis in both rural and urban areas in Morocco. So, how safe is drinking tap water in Morocco?

For Shelley Clevedon “poor drinking water is a widespread problem throughout Morocco.”

Clevedon has initiated a project she labeled as the “Giving Pool” to help people, particularly girls in boarding schools in the Atlas Mountains, get access to safe drinking water.

“I am starting in Asni because it is simply a place to start,” she said.  

The project owner chatted with Morocco World News about her objectives and expectations.

“I have been bringing water filter bottles and larger family-sized water filters to Morocco and my friend Hassan Hisse, who is a tour guide, has distributed them to families in need as he travels the country.”

Read Also: French Development Agency Lends Morocco $58 Million for a Drinking Water Program

The Giving Pool finds that despite efforts to mitigate the crisis of drinking water at the international level, “these huge projects take time” to bear fruit.

“Building dams and wastewater recovery plants take time,” the NGO said.

“I have been doing fund-raising in my town of Polson, Montana in order to buy and distribute water filter bottles and pump-style water filters to those in need,” she said.

Clevedon now is digging to reach her goal: to provide water bottles to boarding homes established by Education for All, an NGO that seeks to help provide education for girls in rural Morocco.

The NGO  establishes boarding houses near secondary schools to help girls in rural areas continue their education.

“My goal is to provide water bottles to each of the girls at the boarding homes (about 600) in the near future.”

She said that during her next visit to Morocco she will bring “pump-style water filters along with replacement filters to each of the kitchens at the boarding homes.”

She added that she will be bringing many water filter bottlers as she can possible bring

“I am sure you understand that shipping into Morocco is quite costly and I will bring them when possible to reduce costs,” she said.

In the Giving Pool webpage, there is an estimation that “1 in 4 people in Morocco do not have access to safe drinking water.” 

In addition to safe water concerns, Morocco is also considered a water-scarce country “confronted with dwindling groundwater reserves,” according to the United States Agency for International Development  (USAID).

Awareness is the key

A recent report from the World Resources Institute (WRS) has ranked Morocco among the countries threatened to face high baseline water stress. The report listed Morocco  22nd in the overall ranking and 12th in Arab countries.

Taking the problem of the water crisis in Morocco to heart, especially in rural areas, the project owner takes the boarding school for girls as a priority.

“I want to distribute bottles through the schools and boarding homes that we so that we can also educate as to the problems with contaminants in the water.”

She also emphasized that awareness is needed to help people avoid problems from water contamination.

“Awareness of the problem is key,” she said.

She added that she had talks with  Mike McHugo, founder of Education for All, hoping to make teachers involved in the awareness campaign “so that they can begin testing their own water.”

“We envision that the  girls can then bring water samples from the wells in their home villages for testing and then we can start branching out and providing water filters to their villages.”

‘I have no idea where the project will lead’

With high spirit, Clevedon is inspiring to make her goals achieved despite the fact that she is not sure where her project will lead.

“I simply want to help in any way I can.”

Asked about what inspired her to initiate the project, she said that during her first visit in Morocco in 2015, she was “drawn to the country.”

“I have witnessed the difficulties of obtaining pure water to bring and became very aware that many people must drink unsafe water.”

She said that the crisis is affecting “many people”s health.

“I am a pediatric occupational therapist in the US and the focus of my life is on children. I, therefore, will focus on the children with this project as well.”

The  project-owner also drew attention to Morocco’s waste management systems, saying that the water crisis is even a problem for those “who can afford to buy drinking water.”

In Morocco, as you know, many of these bottles end up littering the countryside because of poor waste management systems.  I have more information regarding this concern on my website.”

Clevedon said that the only profit she is expecting from the project is better drinking water for the people.

“There is no money profit to me at all.  The profit will be in better health of people who should be able to have their basic needs met, namely fresh, clean water,” she told MWN.

She added that she used her own private fund to “obtain legal help, obtain the non-profit status, build the website and initially, all of the bottles were purchased out of my private funds.”

Clevedon added that in order to make her project work, she has a wholesale bottle status with “the Seychelles Company that makes the water filtration systems.”

“For every bottle, I sell at regular retail price, I can donate one to a child in Morocco.”

She told MWN that she is also able to take “donations and I am having a music fund-raiser in October to raise more funds. I have plans to also work through the schools in the US to help raise funds,” she added.

Morocco: my ‘heart place’

Clevedon did not forget to pay tribute to Moroccan people and for the country for its beauty and for the hospitality of Moroccans.

She added that she visited many places in the North African country.

“When I come next month, I will tour three of the boarding homes near Asni,” a small town in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains near Marrakech.

 “I am stuck by the hospitality of the people. I am welcomed by everyone. Although I love my home country, I feel an affinity to Morocco and call it my ‘heart place’.”

Helping in a small way

Clevedon cited King Mohammed VI’s recent speeches, in which the monarch called on the government to come up with a new development model to curb the socio-economic crisis to end social disparities.

“The King has recently called for faster expansion of access to basic social services, support for schooling and an increased focus in the fight against poverty.  I am not the only one who knows that there are great social disparities in Morocco,” she said.

With simple thoughts, Clevedon said she wants to “lend my hand in helping with the more overarching goals laid out by your King and government.  I think that something as basic as providing fresh drinking water is a good place to start.” 

In addition to the water project, Clevedon also said it is an honor to help Education for All in providing education for girls.

“These girls grow into educated women who then have families and are vital members of their communities.”

Clevedon wrapped up the chat with Morocco World News, sharing her experience in one thought.

Clevedon said that she met with “so many wonderful, heartfelt people who want to help.” She also described her experience as lovely “while making this dream a reality. This is a passion for me, and I will stick with it. I will keep moving down the road as long as I possibly can.”