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CVA Update: Emergencies in Libya and Morocco

Amidst recent natural disasters in Morocco and Libya, we interview Rana Nassar, CALP’s Regional Representative in the Middle East and North Africa region, to understand the challenges and responses in these crisis-stricken regions.

26 September 2023 — By Rana Nassar

In a span of a few days, both Morocco and Libya faced unprecedented natural disasters – an earthquake and devastating flooding.

Vulnerable communities in Morocco’s remote villages are grappling with the aftermath of the earthquake, while Libya endures widespread devastation from heavy rains and burst dams.

To get a better grasp of what’s happening, the challenges and the next steps, we interviewed Rana Nassar, CALP’s Regional Representative in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Read the full interview here ⤵️

1. Overview and Impact: Can you provide a brief overview of the recent flooding in Libya and the earthquake in Morocco? What are the key impacts on affected communities and infrastructure in both cases?

We have seen large-scale disasters hit Morocco and Libya within the span of a few days.

In the case of Morocco, the earthquake’s epicentre near remote villages, with already limited access to services and livelihoods, has meant that vulnerable communities have been impacted most severely. These events are not common in Morocco, so it meant that houses were not built to withstand high magnitude earthquakes.

In Libya, heavy rains, and flooding, including the bursting of two dams in the city of Derna has caused widespread devastation. There are reports of entire neighbourhoods being washed into the sea, with thousands still missing.

In both countries, assessments of the scale of destruction are still on-going, with high numbers of people displaced and living in makeshift shelters. In Libya, the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) is reporting at least 43,000 people displaced as a result of the disaster. In Morocco, the affected areas are also mostly rural areas and were already suffering from limited livelihoods opportunities and droughts.

2. Humanitarian Response:  What humanitarian organizations or agencies have been involved in the response efforts for these emergencies, and what types of assistance are they providing, particularly in terms of cash and vouchers?

With search and rescue operations winding down, the focus has now shifted to relief efforts. With time passing and many still reported missing in Libya, the death toll is expected to rise.

Many humanitarian organisations have responded quickly, most notably Red Crescent national societies in both Libya and Morocco, being the first on the ground for search and rescue operations. They are also leading efforts for safe burial as the risk of disease in Libya increases.

With markets in affected areas being heavily impacted, the initial response has been providing people with shelter, food, and non-food items. As people move to different areas and the situation stabilises, agencies are actively considering the use of cash and voucher assistance.

In Morocco, the government announced the creation of a fund to provide affected families with direct cash grants, and the Red Crescent and many NGOs are exploring incorporating CVA into their response plans. A flash appeal has been launched for the response in Libya, with multi-purpose cash assistance targeting 45,000 people, and cash transfers considered as a modality in different sector plans.

3. Challenges: What are some of the main challenges faced by humanitarian actors in delivering cash and voucher assistance in these two complex emergency contexts?

As mentioned, the main challenge in the early days of these disasters is market functionality and people’s access to markets and services.

Agencies should coordinate joint rapid market assessments in order to get a better understanding of item availability, prices, and supply chains. This is already happening in Libya.

Another challenge is setting up cash delivery mechanisms where they are not already in place. In Libya, for example, agencies are trying to quickly sign agreements with financial service providers to be able to deliver CVA or are considering providing cash in hand.

In Morocco, the main challenge so far is coordination between agencies considering a CVA response, as there weren’t any pre-existing coordination structures.

Overall, agencies should keep in mind people’s preferences and the market situation.

While disasters like this are difficult to predict, the identification of appropriate CVA delivery mechanisms can save significant time at the start of a response.

4. Coordination. How is coordination among different organizations being managed to ensure an effective response?

The coordination in Libya is relying on existing structures with the cash and markets working group already meeting and providing input into the flash appeal. Within the cash coordination structure, agencies are sharing their plans for delivering assistance and the cash coordinators are working closely with them on harmonisation of transfer values and targeting approaches.

In Morocco the government is mobilising large amounts of resources to support the affected areas. Formal coordination structures for CVA are not yet in place. We are aware that some organisations are trying to coordinate, and we have been actively connecting organisations which are considering CVA to avoid any duplication of efforts.

5. Next steps: What needs to happen next to deliver effective relief in Libya and Morocco, especially in terms of humanitarian cash and voucher assistance?

Agencies should continue coordinating closely and jointly assessing markets – including accessibility, availability of items, and prices. In Libya, this might be easier as a coordination structure is already in place. As the context permits, donors need to mobilise funding to enable the quick delivery of CVA.

As mentioned, national actors have responded quickly. As international actors engage, they need to support and build on the initial local response, being guided by and engaging with existing local networks and organisations for expertise and information.

6. Support. Where can humanitarians, especially those implementing CVA programmes, reach out for further support?

In Libya, I would advise any organisation delivering or considering CVA, to get in touch with the cash working group, which can be found on the CALP website – on the communities page. In the case of Morocco, that information is pending so in the meantime they can reach out to the UN OCHA office or contact us to try and help them connect with other organisations.

For any support on tools and guidance, the CALP Programme Quality Toolbox can be a good resource. If there’s anything specific that you’re looking for, or need any other support, please feel free to get in touch with the CALP team.