GIS Application For Managing Floods In Morocco - African Women in GIS

GIS Application For Managing Floods In Morocco

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GIS Application for managing floods in Morocco – Nov 2020 


 “Soukaina Tartour – North Africa + AWIGIS GIS Day Competition” 


Tartour Soukaina 



The diversity of Moroccan landscapes, the variability of its climate and meteorological, geographic  and geologic conditions, leads to expose the national territory of Morocco to many hazards of natural  origin. 70% of these events are floods, the type of disaster that most affect people in Morocco and  causing a significant economic damage. Despite all the measures taken by the state to avoid and  minimize environmental and social risks related to the flood hazard, it could affect the people or the  environment. This paper discusses the implementation of a GIS application, that manages floods by making the organization that use it more accessible to people.

The app detect them by getting their  location, in order to help people who are victims of flood hazards or to prevent them if they are close  to a high-risk area. It also allows them to express their issues and to give more informations about  their situation. Those informations given by users will then be useful to have a better understanding  of what the population is suffering from. It also allows them to discover high-risk flood risk areas that  are around them, and which ones are the closest. The app also aims to spread awareness about flood  hazard, and how to deal with it by giving some informations about floods and some safety tips. 

Keywords: Geographic Information System (GIS); Floods; Testimonials; Risk areas



Studies in different parts of the world suggest  that the number of disasters associated with  extreme weather and climate, such as floods,  has increased through the 20 century. This  trend likely reflects different factors, such as a  shift in the precipitation pattern, and the fact  of growing amount of the population living in flood-prone areas is increasing. Residents that  lived in low land or close to riverbanks are  often highly vulnerable to flood hazard,  especially when it happens in urban areas.  

In Morocco, the situation is not different at all.  The diversity of Moroccan landscapes, the  variability of its climate and meteorological,  geographic and geologic conditions, leads to  expose the national territory of Morocco to many hazards of natural origin. 70% of these  events are floods, the type of disaster that  most affect people in Morocco and causing a  significant economic damage. For all these  reasons, floods management and analysis  became a growing topic of discussion among  the government, communities and  

researchers worldwide. In Morocco, there are  some efforts that are being made to promote  flood hazard mapping. Those efforts are still  not enough to reduce the damage caused by  this natural disaster.  

This paper discusses the creation of an  efficient and practical solution to manage  floods in Morocco. This is done by the  implementation of a GIS application that aims  to analyze the flood situation in the country  using people testimonials and spreading  awareness of the issue.  


The Data and Its Use 

Data can be said to be the core of GIS and two  data types are usually used. They are raster  and vector data. Geodatabase is usually  referenced to earth locations and grouped  into raster and vector groups. Vector data is  data that is represented as lines, polygons and  points while raster is data that is cell based  such as that of aerial imagery and digital  elevation. There is also attribute data in GIS,  which is additional information for each  spatial feature that is housed in a tabular  format. Metadata is the documentation of  datasets in GIS and has information like when  the creation of data occurred, coordinate  system, last update of the data and the  creator of the data. Metadata in GIS can also  include details like definition of attribute data  code and contacts of the data creator. 

The data used by the application are high-risk  flood areas. They are collected by the  Hydraulic Basin Agency in Oujda, Morocco  updated in 2020. The application uses 55 high risk flood areas, which are located in different  regions in Morocco. The data is stored in a  database; this one contains the names of  those areas and their latitude and longitude.  The database will be used by the app to find  the closest risk area from a certain location and also to store the user’s testimonial. Informations that are going to be given by  users will be the data used by organizations to  respond to people’s needs or to have some  updates of flood’s situation in a certain region.


A snapshot of the database


 Map of flood risk areas 

A hazard map is a map that highlights areas  that are affected by or are vulnerable to a  particular hazard. They are typically created  for natural hazards, such as earthquakes,  volcanoes, landslides, flooding and tsunamis.  Hazard maps help prevent serious damage  and deaths. 

An important step of managing a risk requires the identification of this risk and knowing its  location. This is exactly what maps offer to us. Flood hazard mapping is crucial for providing  

general knowledge and could establish a  prediction of disasters beside of being a  powerful tool in making decisions. 

The app has an interface that contains a Web  Map that shows the flood risk areas in some  regions in Morocco. The map uses a  topographic base map and vector data, which is labelled flood risk areas feature. It also  shows the user’s current location, so he can  

see how much he is close to a certain risk  area, and if he lives in one. He also have a  complete control of this map so he can zoom  and out to the location he is interested in.  


A snapshot of the app’s map interface 

 Adding a testimonial  

Allowing people to enter their testimonials  aims to make the organization that uses this  GIS application to be more accessible to  populations affected (or likely to be affected)  by floods, by giving them a transparent, fair  and efficient system to respond to their  concerns / complaints about possible  environmental damage. 

In this page, the user can give his testimonial  by filling some required information. The user  who can fill that information can be an  individual, a town council or a provincial  council. The testimonial can be from a victim  of floods that needs help, a complaint about a  certain situation caused by floods or giving  informations about a new risk area.  

By collecting these informations, the  organization that uses this GIS application can  have a better understanding of the situation  of people who are affected by this hazard. It  will also allow them to help those people and  to have some updates about the state of  certain isolated areas. It is also a way to  improve the application by knowing its  limitations. 

A snapshot of the app’s testimonials interface 

The closest risk area 

Knowing the closest risk area can be very  useful for people who live nearby rivers, and  to prevent people from living in a high-risk  area. This page allow users to know which are  the five closest risk areas based on the  entered latitude and longitude. It uses the  Haversine and the spherical low of cosines  formulas in order to calculate distances from  the user location and all areas in the database,  then ordering those distances.  

A snapshot of the app’s closest risk area  searcher interface

 Information about floods 

One of the main objectives of the app is to  prevent people from the damage caused by  floods. This requires a good knowledge of this   

hazard. This app has an interface that contains  some useful informations about floods. Those  informations are easy to read and to  understand since the application can be used  by anyone and not only educated people.  


A snapshot of the app’s informations interface

The app limitations 

Weather informations would make the  application more useful by allowing users to  have predictions of a possible coming flood. In  this case, the application will send warning  notifications to people who live close to a  certain risk area. Those informations are  generally based on satellite remote sensing  data. The application also needs to be  updated daily in order to be more effective in  preventing people. 



Throughout human history, natural disasters  have been viewed as acts of God against  which humans were helpless. It has only been  in the last half-century that agencies have  begun efforts to mitigate the extent of  damage suffered during natural disasters. By  discouraging construction altogether in areas  prone to disasters or by ensuring improved  construction and requiring retrofitting of  existing structures in such areas, federal,  state, and local agencies have learned that  massive destruction and societal upheaval  need not always occur. 

In recent years, the use of GIS technologies in  managing risks is increasing, because of its  importance in analyzing the hazard and giving  useful predictions in order to prevent people  from a serious damage. Despite of its several  advantages, the use of GIS applications to  manage floods or using the hazard flood  mapping is still limited in developing  countries, because of the lack of investments  in such projects and scientific research that  aim to promote these technologies. 



Geoinformation for disaster and risk  management Examples and best practices – Joint Board of Geospatial Information  Societies, United Nation Office for Outer Space Affairs. p. 7-12. 

Silvio Jorge C. Simões, Isabel Cristina de Barros  Trannin3GIS APPLICATION IN FLOOD  MANAGEMENT – A CASE STUDY PARAIBA DO  SUL BASIN, SOUTHEAST BRAZIL. p. 28-29. 

BOUKHATEM Lamia, ABBASSA Mohamed  Master thesis in GIS. First chapter. 

Informations about floods and safety tips from  <> 

High-risk flood areas data from 


Kingdom of Morocco Minister of the Interior:  practical guide KNOWING AND ASSESSING  RISKS OF NATURAL DISASTERS IN MOROCCO.  p. 6.

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