Operations Update No. 10 captures the activities of the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (GEJET) over the past two months.
The indoor playground project, Smile Parks, has been held three times with over 16,000 participants in Fukushima prefecture during October to December. Smile Parks is the largest mobile indoor playground implemented since February 2012. It helps children in Fukushima to play indoors and allows parents to let their children play without anxiety over radiation. In 2012, seven sessions were held with over 40,800 participants. The project will continue in 2013.
The project of six electric household appliances sets is closing, benefiting 134,789 households as of 19 December in eight prefectures. The project is the largest within the JRCS recovery operation in terms of scope and budget. Initially, this project was expected to end in March 2012.
However, the timeframe had to be extended to respond to the evolving needs of people who were affected by the radiation from the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima. JRCS now sets the final date for applications for the appliances sets at the end of December 2012. The final distribution of 1,220 sets will be completed by February 2013.
During November and December 2012, 1,342 children and parents were examined by the Whole Body Counter and 971 people have been examined by Thyroid Gland Monitors. These machines were provided to Fukushima Red Cross Hospital in April 2011 and used since then. An additional seven Whole Body Counters are scheduled for distribution from May to July 2013 to municipalities in Fukushima prefecture.
Under the Nuclear Disaster Preparedness Project, JRCS now decided to establish an information centre at JRCS headquarters in Tokyo. It is planned that this information center will capture humanitarian consequence from the Fukushima nuclear accident. JRCS has agreed on partnership with the Hiroshima University to collaborate on a project for promoting knowledge on recovery from radiation after nuclear disasters. The graduate school of the university has been conducting Ph.D. programmes which draws on experience of medical and environmental recovery in Hiroshima after the destruction of the city by the atomic bomb in 1945. This competence meets a great need for experts on this specific type of recovery in Japan. Under this project a specialist on nuclear preparedness placed at the IFRC Secretariat in Geneva is funded by this project.
“Children’s World” (Kodomo-en)”, an integrated facility with a kindergarten and nursery school, for the children evacuated from Naraha town was opened in the city of Iwaki, Fukushima. Many citizens of Naraha town have been evacuated to Iwaki due to high levels of radiation. The opening ceremony was held on 19 December 2012. The facility is located in the compound of a Nahara temporary primary and junior high school. The expected beneficiaries are 42 children and their parents. Also playground equipment, gymnastic equipment, and nursery items were provided to make the children’s life closer to what it was before the disaster. In addition, two additional school buses were given to Naraha primary school and junior high school on 19 December. In total, 18 buses had been given to schools in the affected areas by the end of December 2012.
Mobile dental care service supported by JRCS has started to work in partnership with Miyagi Dental Association (MDA). The target beneficiaries are elderly and physically challenged persons in Miyagi, who have limited access to dental services. This project will not only provide preventive dental care to elderly and physically challenged survivors from the tsunami but also contribute to prevention of pneumonia. The detailed plan has been completed and activities will start in April 2013.
In December 2012, a braille printer and its cutting machine were provided to an Information Centre for Visually Impaired Persons in Miyagi prefecture to promote sharing information of disaster prevention and of livelihoods rehabilitation.
A renovation of special plumbing work for the Social Welfare Centre For Physically Challenged Persons in Miyagi, supported by JRCS, was completed by the end of December 2012. The centre is designated as an emergency evacuation centre with social welfare facilities.
Various educational activities are ongoing in the most affected three prefectures, such as concerts, movie screenings, a planetarium, and Christmas handcrafts from October through December 2012. Six events in Fukushima were held with 1,559 participants.
On 15 October, JRCS launched a project for the residents of Namie municipality located in Iwaki, in which door-to-door visits conducted by a JRCS nurse and a teacher from the Japanese Red Cross Nursing Collage are scheduled to listen to the evacuees’ health, psychological and social concerns. The JRCS team makes three visits per day. The number of beneficiaries reached 389 people (275 households) during October to December 2012. The municipality of Namie was severely afflicted by nuclear radiation and the residents were obliged to evacuate their homes.
The JRCS recovery programmes budget of JPY 59.7 billion (USD 645 million) is financed through donations from 100 sister societies and other partners, such as DG ECHO. The current amount has been increased by JPY 1.5 billion (USD 16.4 million) since the previous Operations Update No 9, issued in December 2012.
The Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety was held from 15 to 17 December, 2012. 117 country representatives and 13 international organizations participated. President Konoe, representing the IFRC, was invited as a guest speaker in a session on Human and Environmental Protection from Nuclear Radiation.
As of 31 October 2012, JPY 352.5 billion (USD 3.8 billion), mostly collected domestically under the cash grant programme, had been distributed to beneficiaries in 15 prefectures. JRCS has a mandated role in the national disaster response plan to assist disaster survivors with cash grants, and will continue to accept donations for cash grants from the public until 31 March 2013.
An external evaluation of the activities during 2011-13 was prepared during November – December 2012. It will be carried out in the spring of 2013, commissioned by JRCS and IFRC jointly. This evaluation will focus on recovery and rehabilitation during the first two years after the disaster and follow up on the external JRCS/IFRC evaluation in 2011, which focused on the emergency phase.