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  • Writer's pictureMoustafa Osman

Morocco After the Earthquake: A Fragmented and Sometimes Inadequate Response

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

After the Corocoro earthquake in Morocco, the primary focus of our response efforts has been assisting the local communities affected by the disaster. The situation on the ground has been evolving, and, as is often the case in the early days of a disaster, there has been an intense media coverage and an influx of media and fundraising teams into the country. However, little is said about the quality of the emergency response and the downsides of some organisations’ presence.

A lack of needs assessments

Many ad-hoc food and non-food item distributions are conducted by international media and fundraising teams. However, this is done without conducting a proper assessment of local communities’ needs and priorities, and without taking the national available resources into consideration. This has placed tremendous pressure on already exhausted local actors who are working tirelessly to accommodate everyone, including foreign actors, who often inundate them with requests for photos and videos.

A fragmented response from INGOs

Regrettably, the response from INGOs has been fragmented, uncoordinated, and often driven by fundraising efforts. Diaspora organizations from around the world have sent volunteers, many of whom are inexperienced and only stay for short periods. Some of them are primarily there to capture images and seek recognition, taking advantage of the response effort. Unfortunately, the presence of foreign organisations has sometimes done more harm than good, and it is expected that most INGOs and diaspora organisations will phase out in the coming three months.

Surprisingly, major INGO groupings, including organisations like Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR), have not initiated any appeal for the recent disaster. Few of their members are currently on the ground providing assistance in response to the earthquake. A statement of the DEC attributes this decision to a combination of factors, primarily highlighting other pressing priorities. It also underlines access challenges as an explanatory factor. However, the most significant hindrance to INGOs’ efforts has been the insufficient availability of funding and the organisations' limited ability to mobilise resources for the emergency response to the earthquake.

Government response

The government, alongside the royal armed forces and affiliated semi-governmental institutions and government-owned businesses has played a significant role in the response despite limited resources. They have been working somewhat independently from INGOs. The government’s main concern at present is reaching remote and hard-to-access areas in the mountains: despite being the most severely affected regions, they still face a shortage of aid. King Mohammed has announced a reconstruction and compensation fund of $100 million for those affected by the disaster. He has pledged a $14,000 compensation for individuals who have lost their homes completely, and half of that amount for people whose homes have been partially damaged.

Urgent shelter and sanitation needs

In cities and villages affected by the earthquake, there is an oversupply of food and non-food items. However, there is a clear shortage of winterized tents and dignified latrines. Although the government has distributed a significant number of tents, they are of poor quality and have a short lifespan. It is essential to replace them with more durable alternatives within the next four weeks. Additionally, the lack of latrines is a critical concern, both for individuals’ hygiene and dignity.

Looking ahead, we anticipate that the majority of our efforts will conclude within the next three to six months.

In terms of immediate needs, the following items are in high demand:

1. Good-quality winterized tents and latrines.

2. Multipurpose cash assistance (MPC) for compensating individuals for losses such as domestic animals, businesses, and house repairs.

3. Reconstruction or rehabilitation of public buildings, including public clinics and schools.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and adapt our response accordingly. Thank you for your continued support and partnership in this critical endeavour.

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