Tragedies are repeated, lessons not always learned

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The tragedy of Taroudant sadly recalls the floods of 2014 when 47 people were killed in several cities in the south of the country. Five years later, nothing seems to be moving forward, despite the growing awareness of the need for anticipation and an early warning system.

After the emotion, place to the teachings. The floods experienced by Douar Tizert in the Taroudant region, causing the deaths of 7 people (according to the first bila, and 8 people according to the data provided on site) who were attending a match of a local tournament, are not the first of its kind recorded in Morocco.

Each year has its share of episodes of heavy showers and floods in urban or rural areas, which do not all cause fortunately human losses, but which represent a real risk.

Unfortunately, with each flood the images are repeated and the statements succeed one another promising plans of action, without visible achievements in the field.

Proof of this is the recent statements by the government that promises a battery of measures to prevent the Igherm drama from happening again in another region.

The government promises as follows:

– The creation of a central management for disaster risk management at the Ministry of the Interior.

– The strengthening of early warning systems.

– The establishment of an exhaustive map of the various sites at risk and thus the generalization of the adoption of urbanization documents in the rural world.

– Strengthening the supervision of the public hydraulic domain.

However, these measures should have already been in place in light of the previous episodes of floods recorded in Morocco, some of which were more lethal than the drama of Taroudant.

We still remember the floods in the south in 2014. And before it, those of 2002 in Mohammedia, those of 1995 in the Ourika and those of 2010 and 2011 in Casablanca.

The The 2014 floods affected, among others, Guelmim and Sidi Ifni, and 47 dead and countless victims who have seen in most cases their homes destroyed. Roads and cut lines, and public services such as ravaged hospitals, as well as a long interruption of economic activities.

Following this tragedy, the questions raised at the time strongly recall the questions shared by public opinion in recent days after the tragedy in the province of Taroudant: was the warning system put in place in place? effective? Is the damage linked to a weak infrastructure? Do the different services concerned work in coordination?

Questions that still do not seem to be answered five years later.

In 2015, the association Targa-AIDE Morocco and the insurance company Zurich had published an interesting study one year after the floods in the south to learn the lessons.

In this report, we learn that Morocco recorded no less than 35 floods between 1951 and 2015. "Floods are not new in Morocco where traditionally they were positively welcomed as a source of providential irrigation for crops. However, in recent years, strong urbanization, population growth and the likely effects of climate change make these floods a real source of risk for a growing number of people and vital infrastructure ", says the study that was conducted through surveys and interviews with local actors (inhabitants and administrators, as well as political leaders) having lived the events of 2014.

The lessons learned in this study are still relevant. We recall them in this article hoping that this subject is finally taken seriously by our policies:

– He does not have to be in the reaction instead of the proaction and some prevention : several deficiencies in anticipation of events, interventions during events, and post-disaster recovery efforts. The emphasis on preventive risk reduction efforts is very limited. Most of the procedures and processes involved only the intervention phase and measures that were put in place once the events had taken place.

– Early warning systems, weather warnings, protocols and information were poorly adapted to the needs: the alert process in place simply provides information such as alerts, classic weather reports published daily on the site. DMN website, are also forwarded to the Moroccan news agency and national television. DMN is not responsible for triggering actions in the field. This is the role of local communities. At Médias24, we noted that the vigilance bulletins published on the site are reduced to maps and are totally inaccurate. The weather does not make the effort of popularization or awareness of the media to the need to relay this information.

– Lack of resources, procedures and training.

– The misperception of risks by the population and poorly designed structures have increased the risks: the populations do not behave appropriately to the risks, they seem to react irrationally, by carelessly crossing flooded inundations, for example. Furthermore, Evacuation orders are often ignored by families for fear of permanently losing their homes.

– Theirrational urbanization aggravates the problems in case of floods.

Based on the results of this field survey, several measures had been proposed, including:

– Use more efficient techniques to inform the population;

– Determine indicators from which processes will be initiated, and enable local officials to trigger these processes in a timely manner;

Prepare for disaster scenarios and not plausible scenarios;

– Better maintain basins because the accumulation of matter in the basins pushes the currents to deviate from their trajectory, and to turn into devastating torrents;

– Adapt the solutions to each region;

– Communicate even outside periods of crisis.

Médias24 will quickly return to the dramatic events of Igherm with the help of the association Targa-AIDE.

>> Read also: Guelmim and Sidi Ifni were supposed to have their own anti-flood system



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