Japan: One month on, a long road to recovery awaits survivors

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Hundreds of thousands of Japan’s homeless face a long, painful road to recovery, says World Vision, one month on from the powerful 9.0-scale earthquake that unleashed a massive tsunami in the northeastern part of Japan.

With a confirmed death toll of more than 12,800 and so much uncertainty remaining around the almost 15,000 still missing, World Vision says the key to long-term recovery for the millions affected by the tsunami is to focus on restoring life to normal, as soon as possible.

With staff responding within 48 hours of the disaster striking on Friday, 11 March, World Vision has scaled up dramatically over the past month, already reaching more than 17,500 people with emergency relief items.

Rebuilding lives

“The need of people in northeastern Japan is immense and we are committed to help meeting it,” said Nobuhiko Katayama, National Director or World Vision Japan.

“Survivors have a long road ahead as face months in evacuation centres, then the process of rebuilding their lives. World Vision remains committed to supporting them every step of the way.”

World Vision plans to reach at least 30,000 people in the first three months of its two year response. Currently working in the Miyagi Prefecture (Tome City, Minami-Sanriku town and Kesennuma City), the organisation is distributing relief items such as blankets, bottled water, hygiene kits, clothing, and setting up a number of Child Friendly Spaces, to help children emotionally recover.

Community support

The focus for the next few months will be on further distribution of relief and recovery items, continuing to set up protection programmes for children and the elderly, and establishing community kitchens in affected areas.

As the Japanese government builds a planned 20,000 temporary shelters in Iwate and 30,000 in Miyagi prefectures, World Vision will also be looking at how best to support families by providing necessary supplies to those shelters.

April is the month of cherry blossoms, spring, and returning to school in Japan, but for children affected by the earthquake and tsunami, this has been delayed. As the government works to get them back to school as soon as possible, World Vision will distribute thousands of “back to school” kits to schools in Minami-Sanriku town and Kesennuma City.

“The road to recovery will be a long and challenging one but it is not an impossible task if we all work together. World Vision Japan believes that with concerted efforts by both the government, who has a good response system in place and the help of NGOs like ourselves to fill in the gaps, we are on the right track,” says Mr. Katayama.