Natural Hazard Risk
Morocco, one of the most hazard-prone countries in the Arab region, is highly vulnerable to a variety of natural hazards such as droughts, earthquakes, extreme heat, floods, tsunamis, and wildfires. In Morocco, impacts from natural hazards cost on average about $790 million every year, with floods driving the largest share of losses. Morocco’s extensive rainy season, last from October through April, is a prominent reason for devastating floods. Additionally, rains are often localized with a great intensity, making government’s effort to forecast rainfalls and apply appropriate mitigation solutions challenging.
Morocco has experienced more than 3,500 seismic events from 1993 to 2005, caused by the clash between the African and Eurasian plates. The risk of earthquakes affects Morocco’s north, which is experiencing strong economic growth, and the Agadir Region, one of its main touristic centers. In 2004, the last major earthquake claimed 600 victims and destroyed 12,000 homes in Al Hoceima Region.
The influence of urbanization and climate change-related meteorological events such as rising average temperature, heat waves, and increasing intensity and frequency of floods, are adding to the country’s vulnerability to natural hazards. In Morocco, crop production is primarily rainfed and is highly vulnerable to increased rainfall variability. The harvested yields of grain in winter 2016 were 70 percent lower than in 2015 due to widespread drought. Hotter, drier conditions will increase crops’ water requirements by up to 12 percent, increasing demand for irrigation and further stressing limited water resources.
The Government of Morocco has taken important steps to manage disaster and climate risks. In 2008, the Centre de Veille et de Coordination was was created under the Ministry of Interior, which manages disasters resulting from natural hazards on the ground, allocates financial and physical resources, and coordinates relevant stakeholders. Additionally, in 2012, Morocco established the National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction that supports policies for building resilience to disasters. The National Platform’s main objective is to bring all sectors together using an integrated strategy and framework to increase preparedness for disasters and reduce impacts.
To reduce the economic impacts of disasters, the government reformed its Fonds de Lutte contre les effets des Catastrophes Naturelles to focus on disaster risk reduction instead of disaster response. In 2016, Morocco’s Parliament approved a new disaster risk insurance law, utilizing a dual scheme by introducing a market-based disaster insurance and establishing Fonds de solidarité contre les événements catastrophiques to compensate uninsured households affected by catastrophic events.
To further advance its resilience agenda, the Government of Morocco is prioritizing:
- Promoting institutional reform and capacity building to execute DRM policies;
- Implementing climate change adaptation policies to conserve natural resources and make agriculture more resilient;
- Improving disaster risk financing and insurance;
- Integrating resilience strategies into development initiatives and all country development planning; and,
- Focusing on urban resilience for small, medium, and large pilot cities.
GFDRR has supported DRM and climate resilience activities in Morocco since 2008. Key areas of focus have included supporting the country with risk assessments and mapping, enhancing early warning systems, ensuring the mainstreaming of DRM as a national priority, and disaster risk financing and insurance.
In 2008, GFDRR supported the country in the development of a comprehensive risk management strategy to reduce impact of natural disasters and climate change to the agriculture sector, one of the main resources of Morocco’s economic growth. The activities included support to the government in creating a program to reduce drought risks in irrigation. Well-aligned with the Moroccan Government’s 2020 Rural Development Strategy, activities helped develop a structured response to climate change and establish local institutional structures for integrated poverty alleviation in marginalized rainfed areas.
Beginning in 2009, GFDRR supported national and local governments in Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia to help reduce the vulnerabilities of cities to climate change impacts and strengthen DRM. By supporting the assessment of coastal cities’ exposure to natural disasters and the development of prioritized preparedness action plans to address urban coastal challenges, the activity provided recommendations on the climate change vulnerability of the selected cities.
Since 2016, GFDRR has supported activities to improve Morocco’s institutional risk management framework and resilient capacities. Activities have supported technical assistance for the reform of Morocco’s existing disaster risk management fund, scaling up of disaster risk and resilience investments, as well as the transition from a culture of post disaster response and fragmented interventions to proactive risk reduction. This has supported the development of a $200 million project, Integrated Disaster Risk Management and Resilience Program, the first Program for Results project for DRM and climate resilience at the World Bank.
Going forward, GFDRR anticipates demand to support Morocco on:
- Reducing the vulnerability of coastal communities to natural hazards and climate change;
- Increasing institutional capacity and access to improved technical expertise and finance for climate and disaster resilience;
- Supporting the implementation of the existing National Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management;
- Advising on the design of financial strategies for both the national insurance program and DRM fund; and,
- Strengthening the Urban Resilience Agenda at the municipality level.