Atlas Mountains homestay accommodation, Morocco

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Atlas Mountains homestay accommodation, Morocco

Environment

Since March 2007 we have been working with the villagers and the Tighza village association to encourage the recycling of waste materials. While understanding that the local population is doing what they have always done ie. throw the waste meat products out and the local dogs and cats eat it, and use vegetable and fruit waste to feed to the chickens, sheep and goats the type of rubbish they produce has changed and it is no longer sustainable to just throw it out. There are no municipal authorities to deal with the rubbish. We regularly organise clean ups in the villages with assistance of volunteers, the children and adults.

We believe the children are the key in teaching future generations to preserve their environment. Plastic bottles are now collected and taken away for recycling by shops and the gite, large 5 litre bottles are refilled and reused by all homes, waste metal and plastic shoes are now collected by vans which come up the piste road every 2 weeks to take metal away they give 1dh per kilo of metal collected. Glass bottles are collected and when one of the village association members who owns a vehicle is going down to Marrakech he takes the glass waste with him for recycling at a producer there. Most old torn clothes are made into strips and used in blankets for mules and mule saddles and to make rag rugs for floors. It is a challenge and an ongoing issue but we are tackling it at a local level. We also have the help of the charities we work with Baraka Community Partnerships and the Exodus projects.

We use energy efficient light bulbs to reduce carbon emissions and reduce waste.

We have notices in the bathroom in Homestays and our Riad kasbah (Which also has solar hot water in a 300 litre cyclinder) advising clients that water is a precious resource and in the summer months in particular when water supplies are short to ensure that showers are short and that taps are not left running while brushing teeth. Also thanks to a siginificant donation from a Homestays client via Baraka Community partnerships in 2011 we have been able to replace broken and leaking sections of water pipes and have spare pipe and joints so that leaks can be dealt with quickly preserving this precious resource. Baraka community parntership and Exodus also worked with the village association in 2009 to build a second water tower so now when the goverment built water tower is full (previously water was being wasted by coming out of the overflow pipe, running down the road then over a wall and onto 1 field swamping it and wasting water), that water is now being stored in a new water tower. The villagers all contributed cost wise to this project also.

Community

We know all the owners of mules in the villages and encourage tourists to use mules on longer walks providing a regular income to villagers. We spread tourism income through the homestay houses that we use giving villagers an income, also by buying produce locally from apples and peas from a family's field excess crop to items purchased from the local shop, some is produce from the villagers' fields, the rest is from the nearest souk in Telouet where the weekly souk is held on Thursday. We encourage guests to visit local homes and leave a donation for tea and cake spreading the benefits of tourism even further. We use drivers that we know and wherever possible recommend that people use the public transport facilities available including taxis (local from the village and from Animeter) the Tichka Express bus which is driven every day from Animeter (5km away) to Marrakech and returns( the driver Nourdine lives in Ighram one of the 4 villages which make up Tighza). We encourage guests to buy carpets from local women and almonds from the village fields. We recommend on the trip up that guests stop for a meal at friend's restaurants and cafes in Telouet 17km from Tighza as there are none in Tighza.

We spread the tourism benefits through distributing medications, food parcels to the very poor, using local villagers to take people on walks in the area, employing local guides who have been to guide school but were born in Tighza wherever possible when people want to have a guide to go with them further afield. Through tourism we have been able to undertake numerous operations for local villagers and their children. A local single mum has had a new lease of life following an operation to remove a 2 kilo lump from her face and has gained the courage to earn money for herself and leaves her scar for everyone to see (no longer ashamed) . She makes earrings and carpets which we sell through the Homestay houses and our kasbah. We also buy bed linen from Fatima and she earns commission. We use local builders for all our building and plastering work.

We run projects throughout the villages of Tighza and 2 further villages of Taffarout and Ighris. Through Homestays, Exodus and Barraka Community Partnerships we have been able to fund numerous operations, medical visits, scans, hospital stays, dental treatment, water tower, built a wall in conjunction with the villagers around the village school to stop animals getting onto the playground, put on school gates (2 through Exodus) and a single gate which the village collected money for and paid for. Water tower to enable one village to have their own water supply. We have distributed energy efficient light bulbs to every home in the 4 villages (Ongoing initiative), we have painted a mural on one school classroom wall and redecorated 5 classes in total. We have installed new windows to 2 classrooms and replaced 3 doors. We also totally redecorated the school in Taffarout and recycled the old materials such as window frames and doors, the government then painted the exterior of the school, put in new windows and doors and replaced the roof. We distribute vitamins, provide first aid to villagers and health advice. We have run two health clinics, the September 2011 clinic seeing 90 people in just 1.5 days. We arrange and take villagers through eye operations, check up appointments, new glasses. We ran an optical clinic in April 2012. First Aid workshop in 2014 and GP consultations in Summer 2015.

The hamam opened in 2012 with the aim to improve hygiene and therefore health for the women and children in particular as most have no bathing facilities in their homes. We are also gradually, with the assistance of volunteer groups clearing old irrigation channels and rebuilding them with more permanent structures which are at less risk of damage when there is heavy rain. We ask the village association and the women of the villages what they need and we aim at those goals. Our long term goal is to provide a full time medical facility with at least a fully trained nurse as many births are still at home as the nearest doctor is 17km away which people are dependent on irregular public transport to get there which does not work in an emergency!!

Reviews of Atlas Mountains homestay accommodation, Morocco

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 29 Jun 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Eating dinner with my hosts, and dancing and playing music. Great time.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?




3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, definitely.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Best I've ever been on. Most interesting culturally, and the most fun meeting
locals.

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