After the earthquake, Morocco’s paths to resilience

It was through a press release that the IMF announced, this Monday, September 18, the maintenance of the 2023 annual meetings in Marrakech

After the earthquake, Morocco’s paths to resilience

It was through a press release that the IMF announced, this Monday, September 18, the maintenance of the 2023 annual meetings in Marrakech. “At the end of a careful examination of the conclusions, the management of the World Bank and the IMF agreed, in agreement with the Moroccan authorities, to maintain the organization of the annual meetings in Marrakech from October 9 to 15, while adapting the "content of the event to the circumstances", indicates the joint statement by Ajay Banga, President of the World Bank, Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the IMF, and Nadia Fettah Alaoui, Moroccan Minister of Economy and Finance.

Maintaining this major rally will also give the opportunity, according to the same source, for the international community to “show its support for Morocco and its inhabitants, who are once again demonstrating resilience in the face of a tragedy.” Less than two weeks after the devastating earthquake that struck the Shereef kingdom on the night of Friday, September 8, Morocco is choosing, despite the human losses and material damage, to look to the future and build its resilience.

Thus, despite the earthquake, Morocco respects its international agenda. The country, with these annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, will in fact serve as a "crossroads", according to the IMF, to discuss global issues at a time when cooperation is more vital than ever, the emphasis being focused on the challenges as well as the opportunities, particularly in Africa and the Middle East.

In the process, the Managing Director of the IMF said she was “very grateful to Morocco for its hospitality”, in comments reported by the Moroccan Press Agency (MAP). The holding of this global event which is expected to bring together more than 14,000 participants from 190 countries will be “a message of solidarity with the kingdom and with all countries facing shocks, because we live in a world more exposed to shocks and we must face it together,” according to Kristalina Georgieva.

Raised as a priority for the Shereef kingdom which has set ambitious objectives in terms of energy transition, the fight against the effects of climate change will be the subject of a loan of 1.3 billion dollars granted by the IMF to the kingdom . Objective: strengthen Morocco’s resilience in the face of climate risks.

“I served for five years as humanitarian commissioner in charge of crisis response and I have seen time and again that when a nation unites, it can overcome the most dramatic challenges,” said Kristalina Georgieva, who continued: “And this is what Morocco is doing under the leadership of His Majesty the King. »

And to describe as “remarkable” the surge of solidarity experienced by the kingdom during this crisis. “I know that when we come, we will be welcomed with the same generosity,” she added. Enough to bring comfort to the heart of the Moroccan executive, for whom this decision to maintain the holding of annual meetings testifies to the confidence the kingdom enjoys from multilateral institutions. In the meantime, where are we regarding the extent of human and material damage more than ten days after the Al Haouz earthquake?

Nearly 3,000 deaths and more than 5,600 injured have been recorded, according to the latest report from the Moroccan Interior Department dated September 13. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 300,000 people are affected by this disaster, a third of which are children. However, the health situation in the regions affected by the earthquake remains "under control", according to the UN agency, even if the main shock was followed by more than 1,000 aftershocks, according to the National Center for scientific and technical research (CNRST).

In addition to human losses, this earthquake, the deadliest in Morocco since the one that destroyed Agadir in 1960, also caused significant material damage. Thus, 50,000 totally or partially collapsed housing units left many douars completely destroyed.

The architectural heritage of the region has not been spared either. The Moroccan news outlet Médias24 reports 27 damaged historic sites, mainly in Marrakech, Taroudant and Ouarzazate.

Although it is still too early to quantify the economic impact caused by this tragedy, the first findings already suggest very heavy bills.

The United States Geological Survey estimates that potential economic losses associated with this earthquake could reach up to 8% of Morocco's GDP. That would be about $10.7 billion, based on the 2022 GDP estimate of $134.18 billion, according to World Bank data. While waiting for the first official estimates, you should know that the Marrakech-Safi region, which includes the province of Al Haouz, the epicenter of the earthquake, creates nearly 8% of national wealth.

A fundamental component of tourism in Morocco, Marrakech, the leading destination in the Sherifian kingdom, alone accounts for more than 40% of the national tourist offer. This sector, which globally generates more than 11% of GDP, had only just risen from the ashes after the years of the Covid-19 pandemic. Today, he is once again faced with a major challenge: saving the peak winter season. But nothing to panic about until then.

On site, some tourists who were staying in the ocher city preferred to stay there, while others began to cancel their reservations. In any case, except for the damage in tourist establishments located at the Atlas level, all hotels, particularly in tourist towns, are operational, as confirmed by the members of the National Tourism Confederation (CNT) in their various declarations. granted to the Moroccan press. The latter also continue to appeal to foreign tourists to support Morocco by maintaining their travels, particularly for the month of October, which is crucial for this sector. For now, flights are arriving full from the airport. Nearly 457 flights were scheduled last week, carrying around 12,000 passengers, according to Media24.

It must be said that the Moroccan authorities continue to cling to their ambitious objective of welcoming 13.5 million tourists, as recalled by the Moroccan National Tourism Office (ONMT). He addressed, through a press release, tour operators, airlines and national travel associations.

Note that tourism stakeholders in Marrakech confirm that the majority of hotel establishments are built to anti-seismic standards. In images circulating on social networks, we can see that the legendary Jemaa el-Fna square is already starting to receive visitors.

However, an essential question remains in the minds of Moroccans: that of the challenge that the colossal reconstruction project will represent.

As the freezing winter approaches in the Atlas Mountains, another concern emerges. In a few weeks, a colder climate will set in, particularly in the five provinces affected by the earthquake. In this perspective, an emergency plan was launched by King Mohammed VI for "the rehousing of the victims and the care of the categories most affected by the earthquake", affirmed the Royal Palace of Rabat on Thursday 14 september.

In detail, this massive program concerns around 50,000 totally or partially collapsed housing units. Initially, suitable accommodation options will be set up in structures resistant to cold and bad weather, as well as in reception sites equipped with all the necessary amenities. All of this will be deployed as soon as possible. Objective: no disaster victim will be left homeless.

In this difficult and trying period that local populations are going through, the country is mobilizing to support the affected families. Emergency aid of 30,000 dirhams will thus be granted by the Moroccan state to households affected by the disaster.

The launch of the reconstruction project will follow, with a view to restoring the affected regions. This second stage of the program consists of immediate reconstruction actions, which will be undertaken after the appraisal operations and the land preparation and stabilization work.

To encourage the rapid reconstruction of damaged housing, direct financial aid of 140,000 dirhams will be granted to owners of completely collapsed housing, while homes that have been partially damaged will receive 80,000 dirhams.

New constructions must respect specific characteristics, in particular the unique architectural heritage of the region. Another major challenge: the financing of this large-scale operation, which will partly mobilize the own resources of the State and public organizations, as well as potential contributions from private actors, associative organizations, and brother and friendly countries of Morocco , who would like it.

In view of the “extremely” priority nature of the rehousing operation, the Moroccan authorities have already started the census of the populations affected by the earthquake.

The damage also concerns 530 educational establishments and 55 boarding schools, which were damaged, according to the Moroccan Department of Education. In this wake, students from schools seriously affected by the earthquake were transferred to boarding schools in Marrakech, to allow them to resume their classes as soon as possible.

While 100,000 children had been affected by the effects of the earthquake, according to Unicef, the sovereign of Morocco requested that orphaned children, who find themselves without family or resources, be listed and be granted the status of wards of the nation. These children “are entitled to moral protection and material assistance until they reach the age of majority or the end of their studies,” according to Law No. 33-97 relating to this status. The country is also mobilizing to protect minors from all risks and all forms of fragility to which they may be exposed, putting in place a necessary bill for the adoption circuit. So many decisions and initiatives which illustrate that despite the storm of this earthquake, the Morocco tree bends but does not break.