The Morocco earthquake: what you as a traveller can do to help The Morocco earthquake: what you as a traveller can do to help

Following the devastating earthquake, what is the latest situation on the ground in Morocco’s High Atlas and should you still travel there?
14 September 2023

The epicentre of the devastating earthquake which rocked Morocco last week was in the High Atlas and has hit different areas within the mountains to varying degrees. Adventurer and author Alice Morrison lives in the mountain village of Imlil, popular as a base for trekking. She reports, “When you follow the road that goes through Mghira, Ijoukak and Talaat N’Yaaqoub it is a story of dreadful destruction and loss.

“Many, many have died in the rubble and hamlets have been flattened. The people have lost everything. Help quickly arrived to the towns and villages on or near the main road, but getting aid up into areas which are far from any road is a Herculean task. The state of many small communities is still unknown.  

“Here in the Imlil valley everyone survived. In the first two days, landslides and huge boulders made the road impassable but it has been cleared by the army and traffic is passing freely. If you look down the valley tonight, it looks as it always has. The differences are that the shops remain shut and many residents are still camping in the big car park, afraid to go back into their homes. Buildings have been hit of course – Kasbah du Toubkal lost all the old part and the dining room but the new bedrooms emerged unscathed.”

Kasbah du Toubkal lost much of its old part but luckily the newest buildings remain

Fortunately, all guests and staff at the iconic Kasbah du Toubkal, one of our favourite places to stay in Morocco, were safely evacuated. But as one of the founders, Chris McHugo, who himself was there when the quake struck, says, “The new build prevailed but the older walls failed.”

Not only did the Kasbah do much to pioneer tourism in the region, working with the local Berbers to do so and in a community-minded and sustainable way, but it is behind the Education for All charity (EFA) which supports girls from the High Atlas Mountains to get education beyond primary school by providing accommodation for them. Without this, very few girls from the rural communities get the opportunity.

The Kasbah’s co-founder, and founder of EFA, Mike McHugo commented, “EFA provides the opportunity of a secondary education for girls from the region by building and running boarding houses for girls. Sadly, all of the houses have suffered much damage as a result of the earthquake and will most likely need to be totally rebuilt. The lack of accommodation will undoubtedly have a devastating effect on the education of the girls as you can imagine.”

Alice Morrison during her experience walking Morocco’s Draa River

Mike has suggested that the best way to help EFA is by either donating to the Intrepid Foundation’s Morocco Earthquake Appeal which will match all donations (up to $100,000 Australian dollars), to provide direct financial support to EFA and to the High Atlas Foundation, or by donating directly to EFA’s appeal.

But, while there is much work to be done, clearing and rebuilding, thoughts are turning to the coming tourist season as tourism is a major mainstay of Morocco’s economy. Alice Morrison says, “Even as they mourn, people here are looking to the future. The Moroccan spirit is undimmed. This area relies on tourism and the people here want tourists to return. Their livelihoods depend on it and more than that it is something positive to focus on. Marrakech is relatively unscathed as is Imlil, and every visitor who comes will be giving the people a sense of purpose and solidarity. ‘Douyouf Allah,’ – ‘Guests are from God’, we say here and all guests will be gratefully welcomed.”

Hamid Oumzdou, Gold Winner of this year’s Wanderlust World Guide Awards

Hamid Oumzdou, Gold Winner of this year’s Wanderlust World Guide Awards adds, “People who had booked trips to Morocco need not cancel; they need to come to visit this beautiful country and to meet its lovely people. If there is no tourism in Morocco, it will be harder on the people than the actual earthquake. A big part of the economy of those remote areas is based on tourism… 

Morocco will stay safe and strong to pass this hard time but with the help of everyone loving it.”

How to donate


The following have been recommended by Alice Morrison and Kasbah du Toubkal:

Intrepid Foundation Morocco Earthquake Appeal 

Education For All Earthquake Crisis Appeal 

British Moroccan Society Earthquake Appeal  

Follow Alice Morrison on social media for updates on the situation 

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