Rebuilding homes and livelihoods a priority after Chinese earthquake

Six months on from the Chinese earthquake, which killed nearly 70,000 people, ActionAid is working with communities to help build sustainable homes in time for the winter.

At the end of October with cold weather approaching, most survivors are still living in temporary shelters.

"Assisting with the building of suitable homes is a positive step we can take to help people recover," said Zhang Lanying, ActionAid's country director.

"Eco-friendly houses will be a great asset to those who have to start from square one, after their lives were torn apart by this terrible disaster."

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake in May, ActionAid provided relief materials to more than 23,000 people in three provinces, buying tents and waterproof material so that villagers could take temporary refuge.

Now as part of its ongoing relief work, ActionAid China is helping families in Ningqing County of Shaanxi Province to rebuild their homes. The construction started in September and will be finished this month.

Working with Xie Yingjun, a renowned architect from Taiwan and the Tai'an Ai'yi and Cultural Development Centre, ActionAid will also develop a training video for communities on eco-friendly house building, to be finalised in early 2009.

"It takes a long time to recover from something like this, particularly for the poorest in the community who have the least resources," said Roger Yates, Head of Emergencies at ActionAid.

"People will need help for some time to come," he added.

Disaster risk reduction work is also being undertaken by ActionAid to help people become more resilient and prepare themselves better for the future.

ActionAid China is arranging for civil society and government aid officials to visit India and Bangladesh to learn from relief efforts following earthquakes there.