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Morocco earthquake relief: Your guide to making a difference

Morocco earthquake relief: Your guide to making a difference
5 min read
23 October, 2023
The ripples of the Moroccan earthquake continue to be felt in Al Haouz. Following the government's slow response, citizen-led relief efforts have sprung up across the region. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to support their vital work.

Crisis response requires immediate action and long-term strategic relief work driven by the urgent needs of survivors.

Following Morocco’s September 8th earthquake, the vital relief efforts in the region are still in dire need of material and financial support.

Nationwide solidarity efforts have created a framework for ongoing crisis relief in the weeks following the lethal earthquake that transformed life in Morocco’s Al Haouz region.

Massive waves of social media organising created networks across Morocco to facilitate the movement of physical and material support. Support came through both formal and informal channels as people mobilised locally, filled blood donation centres, and rushed to sites of crisis.

Actions taken in the aftermath of the earthquake highlight the creativity that working to address catastrophe in severely under-resourced regions necessitates.

From the Amal Women’s Training Center’s provision of over 19,000 meals to remote regions in the first two weeks after the earthquake to resources such as this map created to demonstrate the status of impacted villages and how they can be contacted, support and solidarity have taken myriad forms.

International groups have provided crucial support through collaboration with local groups on the ground. For example and in tandem with the Amal Center’s work to address widespread food insecurity, World Central Kitchen recently opened its second kitchen in the region to more efficiently place hot meals in the hands of those affected.

Moroccans have assembled across the country to support relief efforts [Getty Images]

Organisations and associations working on the ground continue to stress the importance of well-organised relief efforts, particularly emphasising the necessity of working with local NGOs that don’t face the same barriers to entry and are more familiar with the local context than international organisations.

Working with groups based locally is not only more effective but widely considered to be more appropriate. These coordinated and collaborative efforts prevent situations where vulnerable populations are made more vulnerable through misguided, even when well-intentioned, attempts at aid by individuals.

Culturally attuned and well-informed care with a focus on the needs of survivors grappling with severe trauma is essential. In efforts to address the personal and community traumas resulting from the loss and devastation the earthquake caused, lists of mental health care providers’ names and contact information have been widely circulated, with attention on finding providers that can communicate with earthquake survivors in Taschelhit, the widely spoken language of the region’s Amazigh communities.

Keeping Al Haouz in mind: What does relief look like now?

Direct financial support remains essential. Survivors are already looking towards winter as the need for temporary housing mounts. The shortage of tents and other short-term solutions sparks fear of another disaster, one where homeless survivors face the cold season without the necessary support.  Overwhelmingly, forms of temporary housing, winter clothing items, and sanitary supplies are the most requested donations.

Thinking in the context of the region’s long-term development, the 6.8 magnitude earthquake highlighted the monumental disparities in critical infrastructure and access to resources between urban Morocco and the country’s vast rural areas. Questions about the Moroccan government’s approach to response situated alongside an on-the-ground volunteer movement working expressly in solidarity with survivors create concerns about the sustainability of response in the coming months.

Those living in impacted areas hope that efforts to rebuild villages serve as a flag for the government to increase investments in promoting access to necessary human and physical infrastructure in the High Atlas moving forward.

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Ongoing aid work

Knowing how, when, and where to offer support in the aftermath of tragedy can be overwhelming. Here’s a comprehensive list of organisations accepting support compiled by Politics4Her, a Morocco-based digital platform advocating for the inclusion of women and girls in politics. Additionally, here are a few brief profiles of organisations facilitating ongoing relief efforts.

El Baraka Angels: This Rabat-based nonprofit focuses on improving the living conditions of those living in Morocco’s isolated mountainous regions. Modelling transparency in the process of collecting and distributing aid, El Baraka Angels has served over 7,000 families in the month following the earthquake. Instructions on how to donate to support their work and updates on their distribution can be found online.

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SOS Villages d’enfants Maroc (SOS Villages Morocco): Under the honorary presidency of Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Hasnaa, SOS focuses on long-term care for children in distress. Collaborating with other organisations and businesses on the ground, SOS has distributed essential material goods and installed solar panels in several of the impacted douar. Information on how to donate can be found here.

Institute Nationale de Solidarité Avec les Femmes en déstresse (INSAF): Working for the rights of women and children in Morocco, INSAF has documented the realities of the ongoing crisis by highlighting how communities have come together in the weeks post-earthquake. To support this organisation providing direct assistance to families, donations can be directed here.

Banque Alimentaire Maroc: Morocco’s food bank continues to distribute essential food and sanitary goods to douars throughout the impacted region. Well-connected in the region and grounded in daily acts of solidarity, Banque Alimentaire has documented the nature of materials distribution on their Instagram. Funds can be donated here.

Madeline Turner is an anthropological researcher working and writing at the intersections of food, culture, politics, agroecology, and storytelling

Follow her on Twitter: @_madelineturner