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Using lots to divide “limited” aid in remote Moroccan villages among those affected by the earthquak

About two kilometers above the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, about ten men sit on top of a hill at the entrance to the village of Ait Ali Amhand, impatiently waiting for any aid to arrive after the earthquake destroyed their remote village.

استخدام القرعة لتقسيم مساعدات "محدودة" في قرى مغربية نائية بين منكوبي الزلزال

Everyone has been waiting, for approximately two hours, for the arrival of a transport vehicle carrying “limited” quantities of food, water and medicine, as the rugged terrain prevents the aid convoy from arriving smoothly to the outskirts of the almost destroyed mountain village.

Simultaneously with the arrival of the car, the men, who were among the afflicted residents, rushed to receive the volunteers and receive their basic needs.

“May God give you goodness, may God reward you with goodness, may God have mercy on your parents.” These prayers were the first things addressed to Hassan, a forty-year-old man from the village, and four other men, the volunteers, who began - with the help of the village people - to unload the load from the car.

While the men complete this unloading process, women and children emerge from the tents with smiles adorning their afflicted faces, waiting for their share of the packages of flour, bottles of cooking oil, or other food supplies received, at the meeting point of three neighboring villages, in the Amzouda community in the province of Chichaoua, which... It is about 25 kilometers from the epicenter of the earthquake.

Dividing aid by a kind of “lottery”

The process of unloading the aid from the car took about forty minutes, before I was surprised that distributing it to the afflicted required the completion of a lottery, which the people of the three afflicted villages agreed to organize. To determine the nature of each share.

“We draw lots so that everyone here can benefit. What happens is that we receive the aid, put it all on the ground in groups, and then put a piece of paper bearing each person’s name on a package,” Lahcen explained to me, as he tried to speak in the Moroccan colloquial dialect, as he and other villagers said, Usually they only speak Amazigh.

Hassan sat on the floor with nearly twenty people next to him. “Give me a pen and paper,” Lahcen addresses a little girl wearing a traditional pink robe. Minutes later, his request arrived, and he began writing a list of the names of representatives of the families in the three villages, which he told me did not exceed thirty-five families.

Over the course of thirty minutes, Hassan tallied the names of representatives of all the families in the three villages and included them in a written list. The organizers cut the list paper into small slips, each containing a name, before placing each slip, secretly and randomly, on a group of scattered aids on the ground.

Over the course of thirty minutes, Hassan tallied the names of representatives of all the families in the three villages and included them in a written list. The organizers cut the list paper into small slips, each containing a name, before placing each slip on a group of scattered aids on the ground.

“Let's start now,” he said to Hassan, then he began calling every name that appeared on the paper that was previously placed on the aid package. He approached each one who was called to him, to collect his share and leave.

“This lottery benefits everyone, and the people here feel comfortable and there are no problems. No one complains that he received aid in larger quantities than another. Everyone takes his share according to his luck from the lottery,” said Hassan to me, before other men, including Mustafa, approached us. He agreed with him and assured me that the lottery is a “fair system” that ensures that they all receive some amount of aid, even if the quantities are insufficient.

Delivery of aid

After the joy of receiving the aid, the people focused on how to deliver it to the three remote villages located in high-altitude mountainous areas. The majority of the population assigns some people from neighboring villages to help deliver aid to them via primitive means of transportation, the most common of which is donkeys.

After receiving a share of the aid he would bring to the village of Azilal Mazouda, Mustafa carried the food package on the back of a donkey. He told me that he would help deliver it to the people of the village, which can only be reached by animals or on foot.

“This aid will reach the village above the mountain. There is no paved road leading to the village of Azilal Mazouda, so we use donkeys to get there. The people are waiting.”

Tents are a common request

In front of a simple tent made of plastic, Enas, a mother of three children, called me to ask to speak with me, and complained that the aid that had arrived in the village now did not include other important supplies, including soap, washing powder, and gas canisters, in addition to this, which is most important; Tents.

I sat next to her on a small piece of mat, and in a sad voice, she told me that she and her family members wake up every morning hoping that aid will reach them from volunteers and members of local and charitable organizations, which played a major role in delivering aid to those affected by the earthquake.

“We did not receive any aid from the government. All we got was from benefactors. May God reward them well,” she told me before bursting into tears, saying that she did not have enough for the important needs of her children.

The Moroccan government, in turn, in cooperation with a number of international partners, launched a number of relief programs in the most affected areas. The Moroccan armed forces launched air sorties, at a rate of forty sorties per day, to deliver aid to remote and isolated villages in the first days of the earthquake.

On September 15, the Moroccan authorities announced a plan to shelter those affected by the earthquake, and to compensate residents of nearly fifty thousand homes that were partially or completely destroyed. It also pledged financial grants to the families most affected by the earthquake.

After a long talk about the basic needs needed for Enas and her fellow women who had not abandoned the affected village after the earthquake, she took me to show me a side of her house, which was completely destroyed on the evening of September 8th.

“Everything is destroyed,” she tells me as she points to a mass of rubble, from which some personal items are visible, still stuck among the rubble. Speaking in Amazigh, she adds that she fears for her children from diseases, as winter approaches, noting that there is an urgent need for tents, not only in her village, but in the overwhelming majority of the affected mountainous areas.

Hassan's tent is not far from the tent of Enas and her children. He approached to tell me, too, about the “severe shortage” of tents in remote villages. He said: "We do not sleep at night. I live in a tent with nine other members of my family. At night we feel mosquito bites and insects crawl on our bodies."



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