Morocco debates how to rebuild from September quake that killed thousands

by Madison Thomas
Earthquake Reconstruction

In the wake of the catastrophic earthquake that hit Morocco in September, the nation is grappling with the challenge of reconstruction. Ahmed Aazab, a construction worker, experienced the terrifying event firsthand, holding his family close as their home crumbled around them. He managed to lead his family to safety and rescue other relatives trapped in their ancestral home.

For generations, residents of towns like Moulay Brahim in the High Atlas mountains of Morocco have traditionally built their homes with stone and bricks. However, the recent earthquake has ignited a debate among villagers and architects regarding the future of building practices in the region.

In the aftermath of the quake, Ahmed Aazab, with his family, found refuge in a tent in Moulay Brahim, symbolizing the displacement many have faced. The Moroccan government, under King Mohammed VI, has committed $11.7 billion for reconstruction efforts over the next five years, emphasizing rebuilding in a manner that respects the nation’s heritage and architectural identity.

This plan includes financial assistance for affected residents, with significant amounts allocated for the rebuilding of completely or partially destroyed homes. The widespread occurrence of earthquakes in Morocco has led to a consensus on prioritizing safety in construction, sparking interest in modern building materials.

However, some local authorities have halted reconstruction efforts pending further instructions, causing frustration among villagers as winter approaches. A growing preference for concrete and cinderblocks, commonly used in larger Moroccan cities, is evident among the populace. This preference challenges the traditional earthen brick construction, perceived by some as less safe and indicative of a lower social status.

Mohammed Hamdouni Alami, an architecture professor, argues that the perception of newer materials like concrete as superior is a misconception, pointing out that earthen bricks have been effectively used in affluent earthquake-prone areas like California. He emphasizes that the durability of a structure depends more on construction techniques than the materials used.

This view is supported by Kit Miyamoto, a structural engineer, whose team’s report after the earthquake found no significant difference in the seismic performance of traditional versus modern construction systems. The report highlighted that the primary cause of structural failure was poor construction quality, not the material choice.

Miyamoto advocates for rebuilding with affordable materials that allow easy maintenance and adherence to updated seismic safety standards. The team also emphasized the importance of implementing the building code, which includes guidelines on earthen materials, building reinforcement, and construction on different types of ground, to prevent future disasters.

In conclusion, as Morocco confronts the aftermath of the earthquake, the focus is on rebuilding with a balance between safety, affordability, and respect for cultural heritage. The debate continues on the best materials and practices to use, highlighting the need for effective implementation of building codes and community involvement in the reconstruction process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Earthquake Reconstruction

What was the impact of the earthquake in Morocco?

The earthquake in Morocco, which struck in September, had a devastating impact, resulting in the destruction of numerous homes and infrastructure.

How is Morocco planning to rebuild after the earthquake?

Morocco has allocated a substantial budget of $11.7 billion for post-earthquake reconstruction over the next five years. The government plans to provide financial assistance to affected residents for basic necessities and rebuilding efforts.

What is the debate surrounding rebuilding efforts in Morocco?

The debate centers on whether to use traditional earthen bricks or modern materials like concrete and cinderblocks for reconstruction. There is a concern about maintaining cultural heritage while ensuring safety in construction.

Are there concerns about the safety of traditional earthen bricks?

Some argue that traditional earthen bricks may be less safe, but experts suggest that it’s more about construction techniques than the materials themselves. Effective implementation of building codes is crucial for ensuring safety.

What are the recommendations from experts regarding rebuilding in Morocco?

Experts recommend using affordable materials that allow for easy maintenance while adhering to updated seismic safety standards. They emphasize the importance of implementing building codes to prevent future disasters.

More about Earthquake Reconstruction

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concerned_citizen November 11, 2023 - 1:14 pm

$11.7 billion for rebuild, that’s alot!

SafetyFirst November 11, 2023 - 4:22 pm

codes important, keep people safe!

reader123 November 12, 2023 - 3:29 am

earthquake in morocco was bad, but they rebuild.

history_lover November 12, 2023 - 4:24 am

Morocco’s heritage = earthen bricks. Keep it!

architecture_buff November 12, 2023 - 5:00 am

concrete good, bricks bad? debate!


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