September 14, 2023

How to Support Relief and Recovery in North Africa 

Author Joan Allmaras, Philanthropic Solutions Specialist

Natural disasters can strike anywhere, at any time. In recent days, headlines have been dominated by staggering destruction around the world, including the earthquake in Morocco and devastating flooding in Libya. Recent storms have also caused significant flooding in China, Greece and Brazil, and ongoing wildfires in Canada are expected to last into the winter. 

Many people across the globe have been moved to support those affected. However, cross-border giving can be challenging and time-consuming due to government regulations in both the U.S. and recipient countries. Complicated and ever-shifting geopolitical situations, humanitarian crises, climate change, environmental degradation and conflict can add to the complexity of where and how to give.

In any crisis, it is the local organizations that know the communities and are already working on the frontlines that are best positioned to respond in both the short- and long-term. They are providing immediate assistance to survivors, including basic supplies of food, water and clothing before additional aid arrives. While giving to these organizations is essential, in an international crisis, quickly getting funds from the U.S. to these local responders can be challenging. As a result, in the early days of a crisis, supporting international organizations with expertise in humanitarian and disaster response and in-country experience that coordinate with local, community-based organizations is an important option for donors. These organizations are registered 501(c)(3) organizations in the U.S. that can quickly deploy funds to the ground. 

International teams can amplify the work of local organizations by increasing access to medical equipment, large-scale food and water supplies, and emergency shelter. 

As with a natural disaster that occurs in the U.S., unrestricted general support is the most helpful. This allows organizations to quickly pivot as needs change and the situation evolves. As other emergencies arise, the organization can use unrestricted funds to mount an immediate response before other philanthropic support has mobilized. 

For donors who are interested in supporting long-term efforts related to a specific international disaster, there may be opportunities to fund local organizations that will stay to rebuild. For information on recommending international grants from your DAF, please visit our International Grantmaking page.

The organizations below were selected as a representative sample of organizations responding to the recent disasters in Morocco and Libya. They can accept contributions from U.S.-based donors and donor-advised funds, and they have extensive experience in the country or region as well as close partnerships with local NGOs. All of them are actively working in areas that have been affected by a natural or humanitarian disaster—in some cases for years or even decades. 

Center for Disaster Philanthropy (EIN 45-5257937) 

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) is the leading expert in disaster giving. Their funds focus on supporting all phases of recovery, especially long-term rebuilding and preparedness efforts. CDP’s Global Recovery Fund is currently dedicating funds to active disasters in Morocco and Libya, and ongoing refugee crises in Afghanistan and Venezuela. Their long-term recovery efforts include rebuilding from an earthquake in Indonesia, flooding in Pakistan and a volcanic eruption in Tonga in recent years. 

Doctors Without Borders USA (EIN 13-3433452) 

Medical teams have been sent to the areas of Morocco that were severely damaged. Doctors Without Borders is working with local officials to provide essential supplies and medical treatment and to restore healthcare services. In addition, the organization is continuing to provide support in Turkey and Syria, following devastating earthquakes in that region earlier this year. 

International Medical Corps (EIN 95-3949646) 

International Medical Corps (IMC) has been working in Libya since 2011, providing healthcare and mental health services to refugees and those displaced by violence and war. The organization is working closely with local partners to address immediate needs, such as clean water, medical treatment and shelter. Likewise, IMC has actively worked in Syria since 2008, providing medical care to those affected by the ongoing civil war. When the country was hit by a major earthquake earlier this year, IMC was able to deploy emergency response teams and supplies to the affected region immediately and continues to support long-term recovery efforts. 

International Rescue Committee (EIN 13-5660870) 

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has had a presence in Libya since 2016, providing healthcare to refugees, and migrants and internally displaced Libyans. The organization is working with its local partner organizations to determine where needs are the greatest and deliver basic necessities. Simultaneously, the IRC is responding to the humanitarian crisis in Mali and supporting asylum seekers in Honduras. 

Islamic Relief USA (EIN 95-4453134) 

Islamic Relief staff in Morocco are working with local officials and other NGOs to provide aid—food, shelter, clean water, medical care—in the areas where it is most needed. In Libya, the organization is working with local partner organizations to provide food and other essential supplies to support victims of the flooding. Islamic Relief has also been providing food and water in relief of ongoing humanitarian crises in Yemen and Sudan, in addition to emergency healthcare for disease outbreaks and support for displaced individuals and families. 

World Central Kitchen (EIN 27-3521132) 

The organization’s Relief Team is using helicopters and 4×4 vehicles to reach communities affected by the earthquake in Morocco, providing food and water. Additional teams from Europe are bringing equipment to establish kitchens as soon as possible, offering fresh, hot meals. World Central Kitchen has also been providing food and meals to those fleeing war in Ukraine, wildfires and flooding in Chile, and wildfires in Spain. 

When recommending a grant from your donor-advised fund, if you would like to dedicate the funds to a specific emergency, please indicate the geography or event as the purpose of your grant to ensure that the organization correctly designates your gift. We encourage donors to research all organizations prior to entering a grant recommendation. 

Learn more about how you can expand your disaster giving strategy by supporting organizations addressing long-term resiliency and consider these impactful disaster relief strategies in your giving.