IFRC

Month-long Red Crescent response to Morocco cold wave

Published: 31 March 2016 15:20 CET

By Soraya Dali-Balta, IFRC

In late February, a cold wave swept across Morocco, bringing strong winds and freezing temperatures to several regions of the country. The Middle Atlas, north of the High Atlas, the Rif and the eastern highlands saw heavy snowfall, while the neighbouring plains faced severe thunderstorms. More than 750,000 people were affected by the unseasonable weather conditions, with many left in urgent need for food, warm clothes and shoes, blankets, medicines, heaters and other winterization items.

As soon as the first weather warnings were issued, the Moroccan Red Crescent mobilized its branches and volunteers to provide affected communities with relief aid, health assistance and psychosocial services. More than 80 Red Crescent volunteers and 10 staff were involved during the first days of urgent action. Branches in Figuig, Taza, Azilal and Guercif provided continuous feedback to the society’s headquarters as conditions changed in the field, ensuring a coordinated response to the emergency.

The organization continues distributing relief food and non-food items and medicines, and is providing first aid, psychosocial and medical services through its health posts that are serving community members round the clock.

The Moroccan Red Crescent has conducted an assessment of the situation and will support up to 1,500 families until the end of April. At least 700 families have benefitted from Moroccan Red Crescent aid so far. Each day, Red Crescent relief reaches more communities - a further 80 families will receive food assistance in Guercif this weekend. The organization will buy blankets and first aid kits to replenish its stocks, in order to continue caring for vulnerable people.

As a result of the exceptional weather conditions, several illnesses have been recorded among affected communities including rheumatism, flu, cough, throat pain, and skin conditions – mainly caused by the lack of suitable clothes to protect from the cold. Moroccan Red Crescent has been offering medical consultations at its health posts and so far, more than 3,000 people have benefited from these services.

Dr. Ben Elmamoune Taoufik, President of the Moroccan Red Crescent’s Guercif branch said: “The cold wave-hit governorates face medication shortages and lack of proper health care equipment. The Red Crescent, as an auxiliary body to state institutions, tries to fill in these gaps by distributing medicines and holding medical check-ups, in collaboration with the regional representatives of the ministry of health.”

The National Society has also carried out hygiene promotion campaigns in the aftermath of the cold wave. These community-level activities have focused on encouraging behaviour change with the aim of reducing the possibility of simple diseases like skin infections being spread.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released 186,929 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the response of the National Red Crescent Society in Morocco and enhance its capacity to better reach all communities affected by this emergency.




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