Earthquake devastates poor rural communities in Morocco

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Earthquake devastates poor rural communities in Morocco

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©UNESCO Maghreb/Eric Falt

Morocco has been rocked by a 6.8-magnitude earthquake, killing and injuring thousands of people. The epicentre was located below a remote cluster of villages in the mountains south of Marrakech, leaving rural people most affected.

Entire villages have been flattened, with rescue efforts hampered by blocked roads and hard-to-reach locations. The village of Tafeghaghte in Al-Haouz province was almost entirely destroyed and half the population killed.

While information is very scarce right now, IFAD’s team are on the ground in Morocco to understand how our project participants and the projects themselves have been affected.

Unfortunately, the Atlas Mountains Rural Development Project in Ouarzazate has been impacted and we are waiting to hear how the communities that participated in the recently closed Agricultural Value Chain Development project and the Rural Development Programme in the Mountain Zones are coping.

Sources: US Geological Survey; FAO; NASA. Data acquired 13 September 2023 © IFAD ICT GIS Solutions


“It is devastating. My thoughts are with the Moroccan people during this hard time,” says IFAD's Country Director for Morocco, Naoufel Telahigue. "Fortunately, colleagues and participants of IFAD-supported projects are safe. Now, in coordination with the Government, we will be assessing the situation and will plan the best way to support the rural communities that we work with.” 

While the country has made large strides in development over recent decades, this disaster highlights just how fragile progress can be.

One in three Moroccans live in rural areas, with poverty concentrated here. The mountainous areas most affected by the earthquake are also home to many of the poorest people. They rely on agriculture to earn a living and were already struggling to make ends meet so have little resources to rebuild following this disaster.

IFAD is committed to supporting rural people in Morocco as they recover but we are also invested in building their long-term resilience, so they are better able to respond to future shocks when they happen.

We do this by giving poor rural people access to financial services, partnering with local associations and promoting production, all the while working hand-in-hand with rural people themselves to ensure lasting and sustainable impact.

We hope to proceed with the upcoming Integrated Rural Development Project as planned and to continue to build resilience and strong foundations for long-term development in Morocco.