By Noora Jussila, IFRC
An unexpected cold wave hit Morocco in January, affecting estimated 900,000 people. In the sudden cold snap, temperatures fell to -2 to 0 degrees, compared to the 10 to 15 degrees Celsius, which is the usual weather in the North African country this time of the year. In the mountainous areas temperatures dropped to as low as -13 degrees Celsius.
Traffic has paralyzed and access to some regions was cut off due to heavy snowfall. Water and electricity supply has been interrupted and some houses have suffered structural damage.
“The people who live in high altitudes and remote areas have difficulties to reach the market places and they do not have access to vital services because the roads are being blocked by snow,” said Mohammed Bendali, Head of Aid and Disaster Management Unit of Moroccan Red Crescent.
“Even in normal times, these mountainous villages are difficult to access, but after the snowfall some roads are completely cut off,” explained Kamal Ben Elmamoune, volunteer who drives the Moroccan Red Crescent ambulance.
The Moroccan Red Crescent is providing food, medicines, heaters, warm clothes, boots, blankets and mattresses for 10,000 people in regions of Oriental, Tangier-Tetouan and Fes-Taza, which are among the worst affected areas. The National Society’s mobile medical teams have been providing first aid, basic medicine and psychosocial support in the most threatened districts.
The Moroccan Red Crescent deployed its volunteers as soon as the initial weather alerts of the cold wave were released and it has been monitoring the situation closely, ready to scale up its response if needed.
“All of us are so happy to receive this assistance. We live in a mountainous area which is now covered with snow. It has been very difficult for us,” explained one man who received a food parcel and blankets from the Red Crescent at the end of January.
The Moroccan Red Crescent is working closely together with the Ministry of the Interior and the local authorities.