source: Oxfam Hong Kong staff in Hebei province
Five counties of Zhangbei, Kangbao, Shangyi, Wanquan and Huaian in northern parts of Hebei were affected by the earthquake which struck last January 10. The first three counties mentioned were seriously hit, collapsing some 103,000 houses in 1,824 villages. Oxfam Hong Kong staff who are presently conducting a needs assessment in the province confirm that food, blankets, warm clothing, medicine and materials for shelter construction are urgently needed.
Although the central and the provincial governments have swiftly launched their relief operations, the limited amount of assistance is far from enough. Our field staff witnessed that a large number of victims in some remoter and hilly villages have been waiting for tents, clothes and food for already five days.
Oxfam Hong Kong will provide aid to remote villages in Dahe Township of Zhangbei County and Kangbo Township of Shangyi County - where less government assistance has reached. The townships have been chosen because they are among the mostly affected countie in the massive earthquake which are still in urgent needs of various relief materials. Many of the farmers and herders in the area are also living below the state government-set poverty line of RMB500 (or USD60) per person per year.
In Zhangbei County alone, the most affected region in the disaster, a total of 869 villages in 14 townships were affected. Nine townships were classified as very seriously affected with most of the houses collapsed. More than 39,200 are still homeless, taking refuge under makeshift tents. More than 260,000 people were affected.
Imminent food shortage is quite severe in these affected villages. Dahe Township and Kangbo Township, located 1,400 km above sea-level, were hit by serious drought and pests last summer. Just a few months before the disaster, their harvest was already 60 per cent below normal and their food shortage was expected to last for u to seven months. Grain reserve per capita last year was only 200 kg/person, below the standard for normal grain consumption. Oxfam staff and local officials predicted that the situation would drastically deteriorate when the meagre food reserve runs out. Measures should be taken urgently to halt the deterioration of the food problem.
In addition, reports at the time of writing say that temperatures will further drop below minus 30 degrees Celsius in a few days as strong cold fronts continue to blow from Inner Mongolia. Fighting sub-zero temperatures, villagers are in urgent need of coal for warmth and for cooking as well as materials for building stronger shelters to survive the freezing winter.
Seeing that the needs of medical care, thick clothing and tents are being handled quite well by the central and local governments, Oxfam Hong Kong has plans to concentrate its efforts to prevent victims from immediate threats of hunger and exposure to freezing cold and to help them revive spring farming as soon as possible .
OXFAM HONG KONG'S EMERGENCY RESPONSE
Oxfam Hong Kong will provide aid to remote villages in Dahe Township of Zhangbei County and Kangbo Township of Shangyi County - where less government assistance has reached. The townships have been chosen because they are among the mostly affected counties in the massive earthquake which are still in urgent needs of various relief materials. Many of the farmers and herders in the area are also living below the state government-set poverty line of RMB500 (or USD60) per person per year.
While initially focusing on emergency relief items, Oxfam Hong Kong will also involve itself in the rehabilitation efforts of the affected communities. The relief phase will cover three months, while rehabilitation work will start on April when the weather will be better.
The total number of beneficiaries estimated in Oxfam Hong Kong's relief phase is about 3,000 households (approximately 12,000 people) in Dahe Township and Kangbo Township. Those beneficiaries chosen are poor villagers who have been seriously affected by the disaster.
Widow-headed families and families with handicapped members will be given special attention and that the amount of materials they receive will be increased according to their needs. Distribution of all materials is expected to finish by Chinese New Year.
1. Distribution of Relief Food
About 3,000 households from the two townships will be given wheat, potatoes or other grain. Each household (comprising 4 persons on average) will get about 100kg of foodstuffs which is just enough for three months consumption.
2. Distribution of Coal for Keeping Warm and Cooking
Coal is the most popular source of fuel in the affected areas. Each of the 3,000 beneficiary households will be given coal for two months consumption.
3. Distribution of Wooden Planks, Nylon Sheets & Other Materials for Building Temporary Shelters
Beneficiaries will be given wooden planks, thick nylon sheets and other materials to build shelters. The target is to build at least 1,000 temporary shelters or huts. Labour costs will be contributed by beneficiaries themselves. The amount of materials will vary according to the size of the family and their special needs as well.
4. Distribution of Seeds and Fertilisers
For growing potatoes and wheat in the coming spring, 1,500 selected households will be given seeds and fertilizers.
With support from the Civil Affairs Department of Hebei Province, the sourcing, transport and dispatch of relief materials will be arranged by Oxfam Hong Kong's relief staff. They will ensure the materials are appropriately priced based on local quotations, speedily transported and sent to the beneficiary households in the selected areas.
Oxfam Hong Kong will send out situation reports as soon as new information is received. Please feel free to contact Irene So for any comments or inquiries.
Irene So, Programme Officer - Emergencies
Oxfam Hong Kong
7/f, Breakthrough Centre, 191 Woosung Street, Jordan, Kowloon, Hong Kong -
Tel: 852-28213261; Fax: 852-27899545; Email: Irene@oxfam.org.hk
Oxfam Hong Kong is an independent development and relief agency based in Hong Kong. It works with poor people regardless of race, sex, religion or politics in their struggle against poverty, distress and suffering. Oxfam Hong Kong is a member of Oxfam International.