China Earthquakes Appeal No. 02/2000 Situation Report No. 2

Period covered: 27 January - 27 April 2000
Winter clothing and quilts were distributed by early March to a total of 21,625 beneficiaries living in tents or temporary accommodation in the three earthquake affected provinces, thus reaching some 27% of the appeal target. Another distribution of quilts, clothing and food will begin shortly. The food will mainly go to subsistence farmers, who have had to contend with drought and floods as well as earthquake damage. More funds are required to cover still unmet needs.

The context

A series of earthquakes struck various provinces of China in the latter stages of 1999 and in January 2000. The most serious of these occurred in Yunnan Province in south western China in mid January. The others, in Liaoning in north east China and Shanxi Province in central China, while not causing the same levels of destruction as the Yunnan quake, nevertheless affected thousands of people, forcing them to evacuate their homes. Thousands have had to spend the winter months living in temporary shelters and tents.

In conjunction with the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC), the International Federation launched an Emergency Appeal on 26 January requesting funds to provide food assistance to 50,000 beneficiaries over a three-month period and to provide 40,000 quilts (each quilt being adequate for 2 people) and warm clothing for 40,000 beneficiaries.

Latest events

Many of the effects of the series of the earthquakes which mainly affected subsistence farmers and rural communities over the winter period in Yunnan, Liaoning and Shanxi have been similar. Statistics from the Red Cross Branches in the 3 affected Provinces are detailed in the table below.

Date of earthquake
Number of counties affected
Numbers of people affected
15 January 2000
1.76 million
29 November 1999
12 January 2000
1 November 1999

Thousands of traditional mudbrick and stone houses were unable to withstand the force of the shocks and have either collapsed or been badly damaged. In Liaoning, the Provincial Red Cross reported that many houses were damaged or weakened by the November earthquake. Following the January 2000 earthquake, some 28,000 houses were destroyed or collapsed.

Thousands of people had to evacuate their homes and are still being housed in homemade shelters, tents or temporary accommodation provided by the government. In both Liaoning and Shanxi provinces, 21,430 and 36,413 people respectively were made homeless by the earthquakes and thousands have had to live in temporary accommodation or tents over the winter period. In Liaoning and Shanxi provinces temperatures fell to as low as -15 degrees Celsius at night during January. At the end of January, the highest level of snowfall for the past 50 to 60 years was recorded in Yunnan and this was preceded by extremely cold weather. In the provinces, improvised coal burning systems were devised by the villagers for their temporary accommodation and local governments, in some instances, have been able to supply a limited amount of coal to those affected.

The affected provinces have reported damage to houses, public buildings such as government institutions, schools, hospitals, factories\mines, electric power and communication facilities. Figures provided by the Yunnan Provincial Government indicate that 1,135 schools were severely damaged. Following the earthquake, the Provincial Government in Yunnan issued a statement that all schools should be ready to reopen on 1 March 2000. In Liaoning and Shanxi provinces, schools have been set up in tents.

Dams, reservoirs and irrigation facilities were also damaged to differing degrees. In Day’ao, one of the worst affected counties in Yunnan province, the County Red Cross reported that the severe disruption of irrigation facilities and structural damage of dams and reservoirs may result in a shortage of water and thus adversely affect the May harvest.

In Yunnan, the earthquake struck area was also affected by a drought in June\July 1999 and then struck by flashfloods in August\September 1999, causing losses of crops. The unseasonally cold January weather further damaged the winter crops. The series of earthquakes also damaged many village buildings used to dry tobacco leaves - one of the main export crops for the province.

Liaoning province was also affected by a drought last summer, resulting in a poor harvest; the series of earthquakes has only served to increase the vulnerability of the affected rural population. Agriculture has been indirectly affected by the earthquakes as communities have had to use funds allocated for the purchase of seeds and fertilisers for this year’s harvest to purchase relief items such as food.

In Shanxi, three years of drought followed by flash floods in 1999 have caused serious damage to crops and the current spring time agricultural activities in the affected communities have been further disrupted as people concentrate on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of their houses. Now that the emergency phase in each of the provinces is over, attention is being focused on the rehabilitation and reconstruction of houses and public buildings and facilities.

Red Cross/Red Crescent action


A joint Federation\RCSC team undertook an assessment mission to the two worst affected counties, Yao’an and Day’ao in Yunnan Province at the beginning of February and worked closely with the Provincial Branch of the Yunnan Red Cross to identify the worst affected villages and to draw up a list of beneficiaries to receive assistance through the Appeal.

Following detailed discussions between the RCSC relief department and the Delegation, the percentage of support provided through this Appeal to the three provinces was amended after PoA 1 to reflect the needs in the affected provinces as shown in the following table:

Percentage of support allocated to each province for each Plan of Action

PoA 1
PoA 2
50 %
70 %
25 %
15 %
25 %
15 %

Targeting of Red Cross beneficiaries has been carried out by the local Red Cross branches in conjunction with the Provincial Branches and in close co-operation with the Ministry of Civil Affairs and special groups set up to ensure that there is no duplication of relief assistance and that the needs of the most affected people are met.

Programme Management

As with previous joint Federation\RCSC emergency programmes, the Federation/RCSC have divided the operation into phases called plans of action according to the funding availability and the immediate relief needs.

The provinces involved in this operation are using the series of 12 monitoring and reporting forms developed by the Federation\RCSC for previous relief operations to track, monitor and report on the transfer of funds and relief supplies from RCSC headquarters through the RCSC structure to the beneficiaries.

There are currently four Federation delegates in country: one Acting Country Representative, one Reporting\Finance Delegate, one Field Delegate and one Finance\Development Delegate. The team are working with the RCSC on the implementation and monitoring of the programme.

Phase 1: Early February 2000

The issuing of relief materials such as medicines, food and clothing from the Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Centres in the affected provinces assisted the victims in the immediate aftermath of the emergency. Both financial support and donations of relief supplies were received from other Red Cross Branches within China, either directly to the Provincial Branch in the affected areas or via the RCSC headquarters in Beijing.

Red Cross mobile medical teams have been able to assist those affected by the earthquakes. Anshan Prefecture Branch in Liaoning province supplied eight of the Anshan city authority’s 48 medical teams to travel to the earthquake affected areas, where a total of 21,000 patients were treated.

Phase 2: Mid February - March 2000

Plan of Action 1

CHF 300,000 was released from the International Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to enable the Federation\RCSC to implement Plan of Action 1 which forms part of Phase 2 of the operation. Funds for PoA 1 were allocated for the purchase of winter jackets and quilts to meet the immediate needs of those living in temporary accommodation and tents over the winter period. Given the geographical locations of the three provinces supported in this operation and to hasten the procurement and distribution process while reducing warehouse and transportation costs, relief items for PoA 1 were purchased locally following the Federation’s standard tendering and procurement procedures. This has resulted in a variation in the purchase price between the different provinces which accounts for the differences in the number of items purchased in Liaoning and Shanxi provinces, despite both receiving the same allocation of funds.

The Provincial Branch in Yunnan organised a one day training course for six staff from prefecture and county levels on the targeting of beneficiaries, procedures for distribution, monitoring and reporting. Each beneficiary is given a receipt detailing what they have received, and signs\thumb prints the standard beneficiary list. This facilitates the post distribution monitoring and follow up. Distribution lists are also posted in each village for all to see.

Distributions started in the first half of February and were completed by the beginning of March as outlined in the table below.

Plan of Action 1 Distributions

Five hundred of the winter coats allocated to Day’ao county in Yunnan province were distributed to students in the Shiyang Township Middle School many of whom are being housed in temporary dormitory accommodation because of the damage caused to the school. Due to the remote location of many of the mountain villages, students have to attend boarding schools.

A total of 10,434 winter coats and 11,191 quilts have been distributed, meaning that the Federation\RCSC will have achieved a 26% coverage of their original objective to provide 40,000 victims with warm clothing and a 28% coverage of the objective to provide quilts to 40,000 victims.

Monitoring visits have been carried out by the Federation’s field and reporting delegates to all three provinces.

Plan of Action 2 (POA 2)

The Delegation and the RCSC relief department have compiled a second plan of action and CHF 414,465 has been transferred from the Secretariat to the RCSC headquarters. PoA 2 will focus on the provision of rice, wheatflour, clothing and quilts. The Provincial Red Cross in Liaoning has requested that the funds be utilised for the purchase of quilts and clothes. The Shanxi Provincial Branch will purchase wheatflour, as this is preferred to rice.

The provision of food has been identified as a priority, particularly by the Provincial Branches in Shanxi and Yunnan provinces, as many subsistence farmers have been affected by droughts and floods which preceded the earthquakes and money which would otherwise have been spent on seeds and fertiliser has been used to provide for basic needs as a result of the disaster.

Other Agency Relief Efforts

OXFAM (Hong Kong) has distributed quilts, plastic sheeting, tents and children's clothes valued at USD 81,000 in Yunnan province. The Hong Kong Branch of the Salvation Army provided some 3,000 sleeping bags, 128 tons of rice and over 1,000 items of winter clothing to affected people in Yunnan province.

A joint UNDAC (United Nations Disaster Assessment and Co-ordination) and United Nations inter-agency field team undertook an assessment mission to Yunnan Province in February. They identified potential areas of risk and drew up a list of recommendations.

Outstanding needs

Now that the emergency phase of the operation is over in Yunnan, Liaoning and Shanxi provinces, the priority is the reconstruction and rehabilitation of homes, public buildings and facilities. This lies outside the scope of this Appeal and will be covered by the local government, with probable support from the central government.

There is a continuing need to provide quilts and clothes to meet the needs of those still housed in temporary accommodation and tents. Food has also been identified as priority, in particular to bridge the period between last year’s harvest and this year’s.

External relations - Government/UN/NGOs/Media

A Federation Information Delegate on assignment from Geneva spent four days in Beijing in February, working closely with the RCSC Relief Department and the joint assessment team to edit footage taken in Yunnan Province. This was released, together with a full script, to Reuters and APTN in Beijing and sent through their feed-points to over 500 subscribers. The footage was broadcast by the BBC, CNN and CNN-Asia.

The Federation has participated in the UNDMT (United Nations Disaster Management Team) meetings set up to co-ordinate the inputs of humanitarian organisations to the earthquake affected areas.

The Federation’s field and reporting delegates have held meetings with the Datong Earthquake Department in Shanxi Province and the Yunnan Provincial Government’s Earthquake Department. This has furthered the Delegation’s understanding of the history of earthquakes in the provinces and the role of the relevant departments with regard to research, planning and response to earthquake situations, as well as clarifying how numbers of affected people are calculated.


See Annex 1 for details.

For further information, please contact Marcel Fortier, Desk Officer, on +41 22 730 4268 (e:mail:

Hiroshi Higashiura
Asia and Pacific Department

Peter Rees-Gildea
Operations Funding and Reporting Department