Strengthening Urban Resilience in Morocco: Building capacity and identifying risk to better protect cities and manage disasters

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The world is urbanizing rapidly with 55 percent of the world’s population currently living in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68 percent by 2050. The world’s city dwellers have grown from 746 million in 1950 to 3.9 billion in 2014 alone.
Cities are the world’s engines for economic growth, generating more than 80 percent of global GDP, and over 60 percent of the land projected to be urban by 2030 has yet to be developed. This is the case in Morocco as well, where the urban population is anticipated to increase by 4 million people by 2025. In a country of 30 million people, where 60 percent of them (18 million) live in urban areas, the urban population has increased almost fivefold since 1960: its share was approximately 29 percent in 1960; however, because of migration into the cities and the expansion of the urban perimeter, it reached 67 percent in 2015.
In addition to rapid urban migration, Morocco remains vulnerable to several risks. Natural hazards such as earthquakes and associated tsunamis, floods, and droughts have disproportionate negative impacts on low-income populations, in terms of both impact and the ability to adapt. With increased urbanization and the threats brought by climate change, addressing this vulnerability remains a high priority. Moreover, poverty, inequality, and vulnerability continue AT A GLANCE Region Morocco Risks Floods, landslides, earthquakes, droughts, tsunamis Area of Engagement Scaling up city resilience, Promoting open access to risk information to constitute development challenges in Morocco. This vulnerability is reflected in the built environment, both as a consequence of population trends and because of Morocco’s exposure to hazard risks.
As countries monitor the trends and disaster risks associated with urban migration, the government of Morocco is taking the necessary steps to prepare cities to respond better to disasters. Aligned with the Sendai Framework’s target to substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services—among them health and educational facilities—including through developing their resilience by 2030, the project seeks to address the Sendai Framework’s priorities to (1) Strengthen disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk and (2) Invest in disaster reduction for resilience.
According to the United Nations, resilient cities are better positioned to protect and enhance people’s lives, secure development gains, foster an investible environment, and drive positive change. In addition, investing in resilience contributes to long-term sustainability by ensuring that current development gains are safeguarded for future generations.