Significant environmental and social damage, an incomplete solidarity law

In nearly two weeks, six fires have ravaged more than 10,300 hectares of forest in northern Morocco. A record in the history of forest fires in the Kingdom. Never had the country witnessed such a density of fires and such a biological and also social massacre, which spared no one on its way.

Forests, agricultural fields and houses went up in smoke in several northern provinces of Morocco, including Larache, Ouezzane, Chefchaouen and Tetouan, in the span of a week. Despite the total control of the fire by the firefighters, the authorities and the local community, who did a remarkable job, the damage is colossal, both environmental and social.

From an environmental point of view, the damage is considerable. Agricultural plantations, in particular fruit growing, wooded land planted with pines, beehives were ravaged by fire.

Before the House of Representatives, the Minister of Agriculture, Mohamed Sadiki, indicated that “ the surface of the forest massif which was threatened with being totally burned was close to 123,000 hectares “. A huge figure if we compare with the period from January to September 2021 (9 months), when 2,782 hectares of forest had been ravaged by 285 fires. There, it is about 6 fires which ravaged in one week no less than 10,000 hectares.

Climate change is therefore manifesting itself in Morocco and with force. The period of fire that the Kingdom has experienced this past week has been marked by an unprecedented heat wave and an unbearable heat wave, supported by the period of drought that the country is going through and a violent wind. And this is only the beginning of a long series of natural disasters according to the scientists who have warned so much about the effects of climate change.

But while nature played a part in the spread of the fires, the cause of the fires is unfortunately ” human as specified at MoroccoLatestNews UK Fouad Assali, Head of the National Center for Forest Climate Risk Management. According to media sources, the investigation carried out by the competent authorities to elucidate the supporters of his fires led to the arrest of an individual in the province of Larache who allegedly admitted to having burned some garbage, before the wind blew away the flames and spread them without having been able to surround the fire.

Let’s come to the social level. Still according to the Minister of Agriculture, the flames in the province of Larache, where the fire ravaged less than 8,000 hectares of plant cover, ” almost devastated homes where more than 5,200 families lived, not to mention the 35 douars that were within reach of the fires “.

Thus, thousands of inhabitants of the douars neighboring the forests and lands affected by the fire had to leave their homes hastily and in plain distress, to save their lives and those of their children. And yet, Morocco deplores deaths.

An illogical law full of loopholes

How to help these families evacuated by the force of nature from their homes, leaving behind their lands, their homes, their lives. To do this, the Head of Government, Aziz Akhannouch, chaired on July 22, in application of the high royal directives, the signing ceremony of a framework agreement for the implementation of a series of urgent measures.

These measures, whose implementation cost amounts to 290 million dirhams, aim to mitigate the impact of recent fires on agricultural activity and forests, and to provide support to affected local populations.

That said, and in 2016, the government had approved a bill to create a Solidarity Fund against catastrophic events, which became operational on January 1, 2020. This followed the collection of contributions from citizens to finance this funds, through additional tax on vehicles and motorcycles since 2019.

Why was this fund not used for the implementation of these urgent measures signed by the Head of Government and for the compensation of citizens affected by the fires? According to information obtained by MoroccoLatestNewsforest fires are not included in the law governing this fund!

Indeed, Decree No. 2-18-785 of Chaabane 23, 1440 (April 29, 2019) taken for the application of Law No. 110-14 instituting a system of coverage for the consequences of catastrophic events and modifying and supplementing the Law No. 17-99 on the insurance code indicates that ” the natural agents that may constitute a catastrophic event as defined in article 3 of the aforementioned law n° 110-14 are floods, floods including runoff, overflow of watercourses, rising water table , the failure of dams caused by a natural phenomenon, mudslides, earthquakes, tsunamis “.

In addition to these scenarios, the definition of the catastrophic event for which coverage is organized also aims to “ the violent action of man constituting an act of a terrorist nature or a riot or a popular movement when the effects are of serious intensity for the community “. This is what can be read in the introductory memorandum to the bill published by the Department of Insurance and Social Welfare, and the Ministry of Finance.

At no time are we mentioned forest fires that can be caused by a natural disaster, which means that the families affected by the recent fires do not fit into the box of ” victims “ to compensate. A huge loophole in a law that is supposed to include natural disasters, including wildfires, but finds it fair to qualify the “riot and popular movement » catastrophic event.

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