Saturday afternoon marks three months since the world’s largest earthquake struck off the coast of Japan and the subsequent tsunami destroyed or damaged many of the country’s north-east coastal towns.
Some 15,365 people died, almost 100,000 were evacuated and 8,206 are still missing following the 11 March disaster. More than 50 million people were affected and Japan’s Prime Minister, Mr Naoto Kan declared a State of Emergency. A nuclear emergency added to the complexity of the situation.
For World Vision’s Japan staff, especially relief staff who are used to directly assisting communities in other countries, it was a change to be working within their own country.
Needs assessments were conducted in the first few days following the earthquake, along with distribution of relief items. A response plan was shaped and directed World Vision to commence assistance in the Miyagi and Iwate prefectures.
In the first 90 days, approximately 83,000 people have been supported in evacuation centres by cleaning of the centres and the creation of community kitchens, and:
Relief item distribution: blankets, clothing, nappies, hygiene kits, sanitary items to women and the elderly, clean water, cooking sets.
Education: Back-to-School kits including stationery, uniforms, sport wear; school bus transportation; and school meals for kindergarten, primary and secondary levels. Temporary classrooms have been provided.
Shelter: support to government co-ordinated evacuation centres, mainly in schools.
Water and sanitation: temporary toilets and hand washing facilities in primary and secondary schools.
Child protection: Child-Friendly Spaces in 5 locations attended by approximately 300 children each week.
World Vision is also providing sets of household items to the temporary shelters being built by the Government of Japan. More than 15,000 households will be assisted in the coming weeks.
The Australian public’s generosity was overwhelming with more than $2.2 million donated to the World Vision Australia appeal.
“Thank you very much for your kind and sincere support and prayer for our response,” said Mariko Kinai, Director-Earthquake and Tsunami response, World Vision Japan.
World Vision plans to assist communities in the earthquake and tsunami affected areas for another year.