Informal Organisation of aid Shipment (Hawaii, Morocco)

In the second week of August 2023, a hurricane fanned the wildfires on Maui, Hawaii to such an extent that the parts of Lahaina burned to the ground. In the days that followed, the roads into the town were closed by the police, and even residents or relatives with supplies for the people in Lahaina were not allowed into the town. Out of desperation and in an effort to help those still in town, people in the area began collecting essentials and shipping them to Lahaina.

A company donated fresh pineapples and individuals donated bottled water, food and toiletries. Existing networks and resources were used and adapted; a local organization that normally organizes boat trips to snorkel with dolphins used its boats to transport goods to the town, individuals from other regions, refugees from Lahaina and social networks such as a group of surfers worked together. Once at their destination, the boats were met by surfers on jet skis, who took the supplies from the boat out to shallower water. There, Lahaina residents received the goods in the water, took them ashore in their cars and distributed them to those in need.

Something similar happened in Morocco after the earthquake of 8 September 2023. The 6.8 magnitude earthquake, the strongest to hit Morocco since 1900, struck in the Atlas mountains. While the larger and more accessible towns were quickly reached by emergency services, many places in the mountains were cut off from help. Many roads to remote villages were destroyed, and no aid reached them at first. Survivors, most of whom had lost many family members, friends and neighbours in the earthquake, slept in the cold mountain nights without adequate clothing or tents. Ordinary Moroccans began to pack clothes, tents, drinking water and other supplies and travel to the mountains on their own when they heard of the suffering of their fellow citizens. While government aid was slow to arrive in remote villages and was sometimes seen by those affected as unhelpful, such as non-waterproof tents, the population was frustrated with the government’s help and felt abandoned.

Their fellow citizens from less affected areas made the long and dangerous drive into the mountains to help. Some villagers also began transporting aid by donkey to villages that were still cut off and unreachable.



In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, this solution has not yet been formalised. But the exciting thing is how existing networks and resources are being used and transformed. For example, the organisation that normally uses its boats to offer tours to tourists is making its boats available and sending supplies to the affected area. The network of surfers also provides a link between people who know each other and can use their equipment, the jet skis, to transport goods to the shore. And in this crisis, the otherwise independent groups of organisations, social networks and individuals are working together.


Hawaii: A major factor in this action seems to be the frustration and desperation of the helpers at not being allowed to cross the roads into the affected area to help. They also seem dissatisfied with the information and help they are getting from the authorities.

Morocco: In Morocco, too, the lack or slowness of official aid and the frustration caused by it seem to be a trigger for citizens to help each other. In addition, helping citizens describe the natural desire to help their fellow citizens in need and the feeling that they simply have to do something to help.


Copyright ENGAGE Project 2021