Seven Weeks After the Japan Disaster: Medium-Term Priorities Take Shape

May 6, 2011

Most relief organizations in Japan are still in emergency response mode. However, Give2Asia’s local advisors are seeing the landscape of relief widening in terms of services and areas covered as well as a shift in the requests and needs of survivors. The Japanese government will be releasing a longer-term recovery plan for the disaster in June 2011. Most organizations on the ground are waiting for this plan before drafting their own plans to complement government efforts.

In the interim, Give2Asia has been working with partner organizations to identify key areas for medium-term recovery until the government’s plan is released.

Reports From Partners on the Ground:

Immediate relief efforts continue with NGOs and NPOs primarily concerned with providing:
• hot meals,
• phone service,
• mobile health services, and
• services for children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

In addition, our partners are seeing a psychological and emotional shift in survivors as they now strive to return to normalcy in whatever ways possible. While some areas still need basic food and water, in others, families who have been on a steady diet of rice and instant noodles need more nutritious foods and want to shop for and cook their own meals. After weeks of sleeping on cold floors and lacking hot water, many are, understandably, craving hot meals, a regular toilet and a bed. What’s more, the initial volunteer effort has been tremendous, but now many evacuees are eager to return to their communities to rebuild. They want to be paid for their work so they can begin to get back on their feet and provide for themselves and their families.

Based on the current needs that have been highlighted, Give2Asia has formulated a medium-term strategy:

Give2Asia’s Medium-term Focus Areas:

Mud clearance
• A large percentage of homes and shops in the disaster-affected region are still standing but are covered in mud
• People who are forced to live in shelters have access to prefab housing and financial aid in the current plan. People whose homes are still standing, but which are flooded with mud, are not eligible for such aid in the current plan.
• While mud removal is critical for people to gain access to their homes, for many people a long-term solution will still be needed to find a new home. This is because homes flooded with mud may suffer from rot, water and other significant damage in the longer term.

Psychosocial assistance or immediate medical care
• Counseling for survivors is a critical need as people struggle with the loss of homes, jobs and loved ones.
• 55% of survivors report that they are still traumatized by the disaster.
• Organizations with volunteers require training to ensure that volunteers and workers are dealing appropriately with and thoughtfully to survivors.

Food programs to meet nutritional needs
• Although there is enough food in most areas, the nutritional value of available food is low.
• Many organizations are now focused on finding ways to provide hot, nutritional, freshly-cooked food, or else providing survivors with raw ingredients for their own cooking.

Our continuous monitoring of the situation on the ground thanks to our extensive network of advisors and partner organizations will enable us to strategize to provide support where it is most needed and will have the greatest impact for survivors and recovery. Give2Asia will reassess our strategy on a timely basis as the situation in Japan continues to evolve and our local advisors and partner organizations continue to identify needs and activities that are not receiving sufficient attention or support from other sources.

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