Morocco/Mena zone: Cold Wave Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF Operation n° MDRMA009

A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

At the start of 2018, temperatures are below seasonal norms in various parts of the world. In Morocco, starting from 5 January, temperatures are generally below normal. Heavy snowfall has affected the High Atlas and the Middle Atlas, from 900 meters above sea level, with temperatures as low as minus 5 ° C, where the average tempratures in January (the coldest of the 3 winter months) hovers around 18 degrees Celsius. This average includes a low of 7 degrees and a high of 23 degrees.

In the interior of the country, several roads have been cut due to snow, according to the Ministry of Transport. With its terrain mountains accustomed to very harsh winters, this area is the most affected by the cold wave that has raged between 5 and 9 January, 2018.

The cold also affects, to a lesser extent, the Atlantic coast. In Rabat, a hailstorm hit the city. An impressive amount of seaweed has been observed off the administrative capital. The heavy rains are greeted with some relief by farmers who were worried about the risk of drought. People find themselves isolated, the roads are cut, and farmers can no longer feed livestock at the foot of the Middle Atlas.

Since November 2017, the government has taken all measures to deal with a drought and a difficult agrarian year. Livelihoods are affected. Some pastoralists and farmers have benefited from aids to confront this situation but at the beginning of this year with very low temperatures the situation has worsene. Many economic losses have been reported, prices have risen and cold-related diseases have increased, prompting the Government to start and act by declaring a state of emergency instructing all ministries, NGO’s, and Morocco Red Crescent to act immediately to respond to the disaster by targeting the affected people

This wave of freezing has caused economic losses and disrupted livelihoods. Following snowfall, several areas, known to be of the poorest areas of Morocco, remained isolated. In addition, traffic was paralyzed and roads were cut for several days, reducing the scope of supply in some remote communities. The Ministry of Equipment, Transport and Logistics has mobilized resources to facilitate access to affected areas and continues to issue periodic road condition reports and daily weather alerts.

Having an auxiliary role to the public authorities in the humanitarian actions and following the example of the previous crises, the Moroccan Red Crescent was reached by the competent authorities to help the affected population, as part of a “Monitoring and Coordination” unit composed of local governances, Ministries, the Royal Army, Mohammed V Foundation and other local NGOs. As part of the coordination with the Ministry of the Interior, Moroccan Red Crescent was commissioned to intervene in seven provinces to help 3,500 families (17,500 beneficiaries) by providing food and non-food items. These provinces are: Chefchaouen, Midelt, Agadir, Ouarzazate, Guercif, Zagora and Taroudant.

Summary of the current response

Overview of Host National Society.

• The Moroccan Red Crescent Society is part of the national disaster plan and, as per its auxiliary role, collaborates with local authorities, health services, civil protection, and armed forces in the field of assessment, relief, delivery of food and non-food items and the provision of first aid, transport and psychosocial support.

• MRCS is a member of the provincial crisis cells chaired by the wali and governors. When a disaster or crisis occurs this crisis unit meets, develops assessments of damage and needs to respond and define the beneficiaries of any intervention. As part of the coordination, MRCS is in charge of intervening on a part according to its capacities.

• Since the start of the meteorological alert, the MRCS has actively placed its volunteers on high alert through its regional and local branches, for an anticipated effective response in the affected regions and communities. They have also mobilized and organized intervention teams and maintained close contact with the central headquarters to report on the changing situation and the assessed needs.

• As a member of the crisis committee led by the government, MRC is aware of the various operational changes and gaps as they emerge and has revised the operational strategy to reflect the realities of the situation as it currently affects the communities. At the provincial level, a crisis cells, chaired by the wali and governors was activated and has immediately conducted the needs assessments. Based on which a response plan was set and beneficiaries were identified. The cell has also set the standards for aid distribution in order to prevent disparities between the beneficiaties (I.e. avoid creating what could be considered as 5-star support as opposed to a a 1-star support).

• As part of the coordination, MRCS was assigned to take in charge 3,500 families in the central areas of the mountainous terrain of Azilal and Taza, Guercif, Chefchaouen and Taroudant provinces, collaborating with the authorities in the distribution of food and non-food items (matresses, blankets and warm clothes) as well as providing psychosocial support, medical services and transport assistance to the affected people, along with the ongoing coordinated needs assessment.

Overview of Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in country

• The Head of Country Cluster of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies at Tunis is closely following up on the situation and is ready to support the NS as needed.

• the ICRC is supporting the MRCS to strengthen their first aid and disaster management division in terms of equipment, trainings, specifically in RFL, and the management of dead bodies in disaster situations, as well as some equipment for the national disaster response team (training, intervention and communication material).

• Since 2012, the German Red Cross has set up their offices at the MRCS headquarters. It supports the same division, regional and provincial disaster response teams on trainings and intervention equipment to effectively address the MRCS mandate in the ORSEC Plan.

Overview of non-RCRC actors in country

Under Royal instruction the mobilization of "all government sectors" was decreed by the Ministry of the Interior, which ensured that more than 500,000 people will benefit from a plan to fight against the cold (distribution of blankets, foodstuffs…). For its part, the Mohammed V Solidarity Foundation has announced that it has deployed a "Cold Operation" program in remote mountainous areas.

Also under royal instructions two military mobile hospitals were mounted in the most affected areas in Chichaoua in El Haouz and Tinghir to help and meet the medical needs in both regions.

In several regions, local NGOs have begun to collect clothing for distribution in these remote areas.