Morocco Earthquake Update

I wanted to give you a Morocco earthquake update as it’s been several weeks now since the 6.8 earthquake hit Morocco on September the 8th at 11pm. Of course, it has faded from the news cycle as other tragic events sweep over the world. However, we are still living with the aftereffects and this is what I have seen and experienced in the region and how we are all doing.

For those who were injured or lost family and friends in the disaster, there is still a long healing process ahead. We were very lucky in Imlil, because although we suffered a night of terror and many houses are damaged, nobody was killed in the village.

Morocco earthquake reconstruction in Imlil

Beginning with my immediate neighbours and surroundings, the most urgent concern is repairing and reconstructing the many buildings that were cracked and rendered unsafe. I have complained often that my little house is built of concrete and is too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter but now I appreciate its strength. It has not one single crack and I was the only person in the village who left the safety of the tents in the car park to go back home on the fourth night. Most stayed in the tents for two weeks.

My neighbour, Hajj Brahim, had terrible fissures in his house and has spent the last six weeks (ongoing) demolishing it bit by bit and rebuilding. The noise of two pneumatic drills going all day every day except Saturday is exhausting for me and even more so for his wife and daughter, Fatma and Miriam, who are living under them and beside them. But, even though we get together to have a little moan, we know the work is necessary and we are glad of it.  Hajj Brahim is hearing impaired and two of the men working on the house are profoundly deaf and I hope this makes it easier for them.

Morocco government prioritises education

One big win a couple of weeks ago is that the primary school, which caters to nearly 300 children, reopened after the cracks in the classrooms had been repaired. The children had been taking their lessons in tents in the playground but it was very hard for the teachers to teach and the kids to learn in hot/cold/windy distracting conditions.

The Moroccan government has really prioritised education. In Asni our local market town, for example,  portacabins have been set up – the school was flattened – and children re-located to other areas where necessary.

Sadly, the EFA boarding houses for girls in Asni were destroyed in the earthquake so our older girls have all been sent two hours away to Shweitra. I took Rachida and Khadija up to visit and they are being well cared for in nice clean dormitories with their house mothers from this region. However, they are so far away that they can’t come home at the weekend and we all miss them dreadfully – it must be even worse for them being separated from their families.

Winter is coming

Our weather is changing. Winter is coming and that is the hardest thing to write in this Morocco earthquake update. I am already cold and wearing a down jacket and a hat and scarf and socks and thermals in my house and yet there are thousands of people still in tents. Realistically, they are going to be there – or many of them are – for this winter. It is going to be brutal.

Post Morocco earthquake aid package

The Moroccan government does have a package of aid in place. Families whose homes collapsed or partially collapsed will receive 2500MAD (£200) a month for a year. For rebuilding, there is up to 140,000 MAD (£11,600) for an estimated 50,000 households. There is also support to rebuild livestock herds and for feed and farming and tourism. Money has been coming through for some, but others have been frustrated by slow progress.

It is not just about the money, though, I spoke to people from a hamlet, Agoursiwal, just 3km away from me and asked them why they were staying in tents perched near the road instead of going home – all their houses look fine from afar. ‘We are frightened,’ they told me. ‘When the earthquake came, big rocks fell on our houses. Now, snow and rain will come and the rocks are loose. Maybe they will fall again. We go home in the day but at night we prefer to sleep in safety. We will see what happens.’

Two ladies came for five o’clock tea one afternoon. They had been in Moulay Brahim and had escaped with their lives but nothing else. Their houses had just collapsed with everything in them. It felt surreal to be sitting next to them eating home-made bread with home-churned butter and knowing they were going back to a tent and uncertainty.

Asni thriving

Asni, is actually thriving. A whole neighbourhood collapsed during the quake but the town has become a centre for aid and support which has brought in money. The military hospital that was established is still there and now the weekly market has become a daily one.

In the car park opposite the market, I went to talk to people who have been camped out in blue government tents since September. I met a man who I had once given a lift to. ‘How are you? Come and have tea with us,’ he invited me, shaking my hand and asking after the health of my parents. When I asked him how long he thought he would be in the tent with his family he told me:

‘We don’t yet know if the land underneath our old house is safe to rebuild on. We have to wait for the engineers to tell us. Then we can try to get the money from the government and then we build. It is going to be at least a year.’

‘A year? How will you manage? Winter is coming.’

‘Sabr – patience.’

Women suffering more after Morocco earthquake

Khaddouja and her family and friends have set up a little circle of tents, fringed by washing up lines festooned in fluffy pyjamas and colourful jellabas. Her tent is immaculately tidy. The kitchen with a gas cooker and bread oven is on the left and two benches/beds are in the centre and on the right. She has rugs on the floor. She gave me an insight into how hard daily life is. It is some big things, but also all the small ones.

‘The children can’t sleep at night because the plastic sheet we have over the tent to keep out the wet, flaps against the sides and it scares them. They are still frightened from the earthquake as well. There is a psychologist helping them. The toilets are far away – at the other end of the car park and when we need water for washing and cooking, we have to walk up the hill to fill our plastic bottles. In the day it is hot in the tents but at night it is so cold. And the dust! There is dirt everywhere. We can’t keep clean.  Last night we all came running out because the electricity cable on the main street just there broke and caught fire. It was swinging and sparking right beside the tents and we thought they might burn.

For women in this community, their home is everything: their responsibility, their kingdom, their pride and, of course, the place they are safe. The men go out to work but the women’s whole life is in the house., Now, these women are in tents.

We haven’t had any heavy snow or really heavy rain yet. We need it for the crops but it will also bring the misery of cold, wet and endless mud.

You can help

I have written here only about the areas immediately surrounding me and these were not the worst hit. Further down the valley in Ouirgane, Ijoukak, Talaat n Yaqoub and the outlying villages, the destruction has been catastrophic. Aid efforts are focussed there from the government and independent agencies.

If you would like to help those who are suffering, I recommend


There are many other good people out there also helping that you can find through google.

Thank you for reading this Morocco earthquake update.

Do check out my books, podcasts and Instagram for more.

2 comments on “Morocco Earthquake Update

  1. Bukky on

    So nice to hear of this update . and yet still so sad about some challenges yet to overcome. I admire the tenacity of the Moroccan people and pray for ease and normalcy to their lives soon

  2. Miss Jaay on

    Thank you so much for this update. I think of the Moroccan people often and how difficult it must be to get back to some semblance of normal life. I’m happy to hear the government is stepping up. I’ll continue to keep you in my thoughts and I wish you all good fortune in the coming months.


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