Project HOPE is committed to a long-term response supporting those impacted by the September 2023 earthquake in Morocco. Learn more about this humanitarian situation and how you can help.
Despite progress made in health care in recent years, access to quality services in Morocco remains a significant issue for those living in the country’s remote and mountainous rural regions. On September 8, 2023, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck about 50 miles south of Marrakech, the strongest to hit Morocco in over a century. The earthquake caused extensive damage in remote communities among the Atlas Mountains leading to significant needs for primary health care; mental health care; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services; and protection measures for women, children, older adults, and people with disabilities.
The September 8 earthquake affected more than 300,000 people and caused extensive damage across both Marrakech and rural villages and towns in the surrounding region. Many of the hardest-hit communities are among the valleys of the Atlas Mountains, remote populations that faced extreme poverty and limited health care services even before the earthquake.
Project HOPE’s assessments, conducted through our partners at SAMU, showed that while there was some health support along the main highways of the affected area, the smaller villages — called “duars” — did not have access to health care and residents were unable to travel to points of service. Many of the duars that our partners were able to visit were completely destroyed, with little shelter available. The earthquake also left an overwhelming need for mental health support. Our assessment through SAMU found many people to be grappling with post-traumatic and acute stress symptoms, but mental health services are primarily concentrated in urban areas, leaving a significant gap in coverage for those living in the mountains.
Thanks to support from AstraZeneca, Project HOPE is now working through local partners to support communities as they work to recover, concentrating on some of the most critical health needs: water, sanitation, and access to mental health support.
In the initial days following the earthquake, Project HOPE supported search and rescue operations and mobile medical units (MMUs) through our long-time partners at SAMU, a Spanish medical emergency organization that has a local presence based in Tangier. In the first week after the earthquake, Project HOPE supported SAMU as they carried out more than 120 health interventions and visited more than 20 villages.
As part of our long-term response, Project HOPE is now working through partners to improve water and sanitation conditions by providing practical hygiene solutions, distributing hygiene kits, and rebuilding potable water systems. These measures are not only vital for comfort, but also play a crucial role in preventing the spread of disease.
Project HOPE is also providing mental health and psychosocial support to women and children in impacted villages through our partners at Project Soar and the High Atlas Foundation. Project HOPE has supported the High Atlas Foundation in setting up safe spaces and providing workshops on topics related to mental health, psychosocial support, resilience, and positive coping strategies to eight villages, prioritizing those most affected and with the least access to resources. Through Project Soar, Project HOPE will be supporting psychosocial groups for hundreds of young students who have had to leave home and relocate to Marrakech in order to continue their studies in school.